Christopher Joyce

Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Joyce seeks out stories in some of the world's most inaccessible places. He has reported from remote villages in the Amazon and Central American rainforests, Tibetan outposts in the mountains of western China, and the bottom of an abandoned copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Over the course of his career, Joyce has written stories about volcanoes, hurricanes, human evolution, tagging giant blue-fin tuna, climate change, wars in Kosovo and Iraq and the artificial insemination of an African elephant.

For several years, Joyce was an editor and correspondent for NPR's Radio Expeditions, a documentary program on natural history and disappearing cultures produced in collaboration with the National Geographic Society that was heard frequently on Morning Edition.

Joyce came to NPR in 1993 as a part-time editor while finishing a book about tropical rainforests and, as he says, "I just fell in love with radio." For two years, Joyce worked on NPR's national desk and was responsible for NPR's Western coverage. But his interest in science and technology soon launched him into parallel work on NPR's science desk.

In addition, Joyce has written two non-fiction books on scientific topics for the popular market: Witnesses from the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell (with co-author Eric Stover); and Earthly Goods: Medicine-Hunting in the Rainforest.

Before coming to NPR, Joyce worked for ten years as the U.S. correspondent and editor for the British weekly magazine New Scientist.

Joyce's stories on forensic investigations into the massacres in Kosovo and Bosnia were part of NPR's war coverage that won a 1999 Overseas Press Club award. He was part of the Radio Expeditions reporting and editing team that won the 2001 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award and the 2001 Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Joyce won the 2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science excellence in journalism award.

Jamestown, Virginia — the first successful English colony in North America — was a difficult place, to say the least. Most of the colonists who arrived in 1607 died shortly thereafter. Now archaeologists have discovered the remains of some of the colony's first leaders — Jamestown's elite. These days, Jamestown is a historical site, where the emerald green grass rolls down to the James River and a steady breeze keeps the mosquitoes at bay. Preservation Virginia, a private nonprofit, runs the...

The first people to set foot in the Americas apparently came from Siberia during the last ice age. That's the conventional wisdom. But now there's evidence from two different studies published this week that the first Americans may have migrated from different places at different times — and earlier than people thought. The human race has walked or paddled or sailed until it covered the globe. Scientists can trace those migrations from the stuff these people left behind: tools, dwellings or...

For the past quarter-century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been gathering data from more than 400 scientists around the world on climate trends. The report on 2014 from these international researchers? On average, it was the hottest year ever — in the ocean, as well as on land. Deke Arndt is a climate scientist with the agency and an author of the State of the Climate in 2014 report, released Thursday. It's the lower atmosphere that's warming, not the upper...

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency made a mistake when it told electric power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The high court says the EPA should first have considered how much it would cost power plants to do that. The decision comes too late for most power companies, but it could affect future EPA regulations. Mercury in the air is a health risk . When you burn coal or oil, you create airborne mercury that can end up in fish we eat and cause...

The demand for ivory around the world is leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants every year. To fight the poachers, wildlife biologists are trying to pin down where the worst poaching is, and they've found a new way to do that: with DNA. Zoologist Sam Wasser , a research professor at the University of Washington, spent years extracting DNA from elephant dung and tissue across the African continent. He used it to draw a map that shows the genetic signature of each major...

New genetic evidence suggests that Kennewick Man, an 8,500-year-old skeleton found in Washington state, is related to members of a nearby Native American tribe. The DNA may help resolve a long-running scientific mystery, while at the same time reigniting a debate over who should have custody of the remains. Kennewick Man was discovered accidentally in the mud flat along the Columbia River in 1996. He's caused a ruckus ever since. Physical anthropologists said his facial features and cranium...

In the ocean off of Massachusetts, an unlikely alliance of scientists and fishermen is on a quest. They're looking for mating codfish. The goal is not only to revive a depleted fish population but to save an endangered fishing community as well. Cod were once so plentiful in New England waters that people used to say you could almost walk across their backs. Cod fueled a huge fishing industry. But now they're scarce, mostly from overfishing. If you want to be sure to find one, you can do what...

What's at the bottom of the bottom of the food chain? Well, think small ... smaller than you can see. Tiny life forms in the ocean, too small for the naked eye to see. There are (and scientists have done the math) trillions of microorganisms in the ocean: plankton, bacteria, krill (they're maybe bigger than "micro," but not by much), viruses, protists and archaea (they're like bacteria, but they aren't bacteria). The Earth as we know it wouldn't exist without the trillions of microorganisms...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Royal Dutch Shell has won permission to drill exploration wells this summer in Alaska's remote Chukchi Sea. That's on the condition that the company can show the government it can stop and clean up a potential spill. NPR's Christopher Joyce reports on the tricky business of oil clean up in the Arctic. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: The 1989 wreck of the Exxon Valdez in Alaska and disgorgement of 11 million...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Today the White House delivered an ambitious target for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. Those gases contribute to climate change. The commitment is part of a global effort to forge a new treaty to protect the climate. NPR's Christopher Joyce has more. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: The next big thing in international climate negotiations takes place next December in Paris. The United Nations will...

The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating. Many of the ice sheets that blanket Antarctica run right down to the land's edge and then out into the ocean, where they form floating ice "shelves." Some of those shelves have been shrinking lately. Now, a team of scientists has...

For the first time, biologists have caught a rare type of coral in the act of reproducing, and they were able to collect its sperm and eggs and breed the coral in the laboratory.

The success is part of an effort to stem the decline in many types of coral around the world.

To understand how this works, you need to know that coral reefs are actually colonies of tiny organisms encased in hard skeletons. In many kinds of coral, the whole colony reproduces at once, in a...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Over the past few days, four tropical cyclones have been sweeping through the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, just west of Australia. One of those cyclones slammed into the islands of Vanuatu last weekend with deadly winds of 165 miles per hour. NPR's Christopher Joyce has more. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: We call them hurricanes, but a big spinning storm in the South Pacific is called a cyclone....

If living long and prospering is a measure of success, then the arthropods are life's winners. These are the most common form of life: insects, spiders, crustaceans and centipedes, to name but a few. And now scientists have their hands on the remains of one of the first ever. It lived 480 million years ago, and it was big and strange. The fossil was discovered by a Moroccan collector, Ou Said Ben Moula. He gave it several years ago to scientists who spent hundreds of hours scraping away its...

Scientists working in Ethiopia say they've found the earliest known fossil on the ancestral line that led to humans. It's part of a lower jaw with several teeth, and it's about 2.8 million years old. Anthropologists say the fossil fills an important gap in the record of human evolution. Although it's risky to say you've got the first or oldest of anything, Brian Villmoare , a paleoanthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is sure he and his team have the earliest specimen of Homo...

As diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba thaw, the island could see a new wave of tourism — with visitors treated to music and scenery that has been closed to most U.S. residents for more than half a century. But beyond the beaches and cabarets, there's a spectacular world of wildlife, with hundreds of plants and animals that live nowhere else. Cuba is also a vital stopover for birds migrating from North America, and much of the wild area is pristine because the government...

Bad news for bivalves comes this week from scientists studying ocean acidification. Ocean water in parts of the world is changing. Its chemistry is very slowly becoming more acidic, like lemon juice, and less alkaline, a la baking soda. The change so far is small — you wouldn't notice if you swam in the ocean or even drank it (not recommended, in any case). But numerous scientific studies show that it could get worse. One reason is that as humans produce more carbon dioxide, a lot is absorbed...

Plastic is one of those inventions that transformed the world. It's light, durable and you can make lots of things with it. But it's also transforming Earth's oceans — and not in a good way. A lot of plastic ends up there. Scientists are just now getting a handle on how much plastic has gone to sea. Up until now, estimates have been very rough. It's hard to measure waste in the oceans; after all, salt water covers 70 percent of the planet. But another way to figure out what's out there is to...

Most of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad. And a lot of that is caught illegally — by vessels that ignore catch limits, or that fish in areas off-limits to fishing. No one knows how much of it is illegal, because the oceans are too big to patrol. Or at least, they were. Now environmental groups have harnessed satellite technology to watch pirate fishing vessels from space — and they've already caught some of them. Environmental groups, as well as the U.S. government, say pirate...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: The Obama administration today announced plans to make oil and gas drilling companies clean up natural gas leaks. The current boom in drilling has led to lower oil and gas prices, but these wells sometimes leak methane, the main constituent of natural gas. Methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas that warms the atmosphere. NPR's Christopher Joyce reports on what the government plans to do about that....

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: On the first Monday of 2015, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. This is the year when the world's nations say they're going to sign a new treaty to curb climate change. They say so anyway - they failed for years to agree on how to do that. Here in the United States, plenty of entrepreneurs are not waiting for the diplomats. They are finding ways to cut carbon emissions and make...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCv5SlSV_00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBxsm5T2yN8 The Mariana Trench cuts a 1,500-mile incision in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean near the island of Guam. That's where an international team of scientists has just spent over a month sending probes down to the deepest place on Earth. The scientists were stunned by the amount of life they found there, including a fish species inhabiting the deepest depths. The bottom of the trench lies 7 miles below the ocean...

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench . They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet. This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench — the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep — which each extend down about 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface. Douglas Bartlett , from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is the chief scientist aboard...

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Jackie Richter-Menge, a polar scientist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Americans eat more seafood than just about anyone else. Most of it is imported from abroad. And a lot of it — perhaps 25 percent of wild-caught seafood imports, according to fisheries experts — is illegally caught. The White House is now drafting recommendations on what to do about that. Fisheries experts say they hope the administration will devote more resources to fight seafood piracy. This isn't just about fraudulent fish — say, a plate of tilefish advertised as pricy red snapper at a...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Scientists are looking for ways for fracking to be less damaging. New fracking technology hass produced a natural gas boom, but it also poses a specific environmental problem. There are more gas leaks from wells, and it's hard to find out where the worst of those leaks are coming from. NPR's Christopher Joyce reports on a study out today with some answers. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Hydraulic...

Every year the United Nations invites environmental experts and diplomats from around the world to negotiate ways to slow global warming. This year's meeting runs this week and next in Lima, Peru. Some say these conferences are a warming planet's best hope. Some say they're a United Nations jamboree. Most agree that recent sessions have seen mixed success at best. This year, however, negotiators think they have some fresh ideas to entice developed countries and developing ones to work...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Our health protections have endured because they're engineered to evolve - that statement today from the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is proposing a change, a new lower standard for ozone. Ozone causes smog, and it's harmful to people with respiratory illnesses. Many in the business community are objecting to this move, but as we hear from NPR's Christopher Joyce, the government...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: The deal that President Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping signed this week to curb climate change will require overhauling the way both countries use energy. Climate and energy experts are sorting out what has to happen to make the deal work. As NPR's Christopher Joyce reports, they agree the goals are ambitious. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: The U.S. has actually lowered its emissions of the...

Pages