Ambar Espinoza

Environmental Reporter

Ambar Espinoza’s roots in environmental journalism started in Rhode Island a few years ago as an environmental reporting fellow at the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting. She worked as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio for a few years covering several beats, including the environment and changing demographics. Her journalism experience includes working as production and editorial assistant at National Public Radio, and as a researcher at APM’s Marketplace.

Espinoza joins Rhode Island Public Radio most recently from Seattle, WA, where she earned a master of education with a focus on science education from the University of Washington. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from American University in Washington, D.C. Espinoza was born in El Salvador and raised in Los Angeles, CA.

Ways To Connect

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Sailors competing in the Volvo Ocean Race are attesting to the growing amount of trash found in the ocean. They’ve reported plastic debris getting stuck on their rudders and keels, slowing down their boats. That was the catalyst for a summit focused on ocean debris during the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Newport.

Sailor Dee Caffari, with Team SCA, has been sailing for 10 years, but she notes the trash has been most prominent along the new routes in this race around the world. What’s most heartbreaking, Caffari said, is witnessing the negative impact trash has on marine creatures.

Hans-Petter Fjeld / Wikimedia Commons

In regional news, the Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon, known as the “king of fish,” is one of eight marine species most at risk for extinction in the near future. The fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced a new campaign to beef up efforts to help these endangered species survive.

NOAA Fisheries biologist Tara Trinko Lake said the Atlantic salmon were once abundant as far south as Connecticut, but they started to decline in the late 1800s from dams, overfishing, and pollution.

Ed Hughes / Audubon Society of Rhode Island

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island is leading free daily birds walks this month, during the height of spring migration, all over the state from North Smithfield to Coventry to South Kingstown.

At this time of year, male birds are sporting bright colored plumage to attract mates. Jeffrey Hall, the organization’s senior director of advancement, points out that trees aren’t lush with leaves yet. 

Three beluga whales spotted in Narragansett Bay are healthy adult males, likely from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. 

(Video courtesy of Matt Jarbeau)

Courtesy of Northeast Fisheries Science Center / NOAA

Oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb all the carbon emissions humans release into the air. And it could impact the Atlantic seaboard’s scallop industry, which brings in hundreds of millions of dollars. A team of researchers is working to predict just how bad the damage might be.

Researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy unveiled a computer program that analyzes data on changes in the ocean, the scallop population, and the economy.

The Rhode Island Army National Guard concluded a four-day emergency exercise in Quonset this week to practice responding to a hazardous material disaster.

Lt. Col. Peter Parente said the scenario was a commuter train derailment that also damaged a nearby car that contained chlorine gas. Parente said the exercise brought together local, state, and federal first responders.

Photo Courtesy of the Coastal Resources Management Council

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has selected the University of Rhode Island (URI) to be one of two partners in its Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence.

URI is already working on a number of research and policy projects related to coastal resiliency, said Tom Miller, director of administration at URI's Graduate School of Oceanography. Miller said this partnership is an opportunity to broaden the university's reputation with the federal government when it comes to its expertise on coastal and climate issues.

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is the latest group to award grants that will support water quality projects in the state.

Eight projects that range from improving fish passages to restoring public access to the shoreline will benefit from more than $65,000 in grants. Tom Borden, director of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, said the money comes mostly from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey.

grifo via Creative Commons License

The Rhode Island Department of Health did a comprehensive analysis to figure out which drinking water sources are most vulnerable to climate change to help water suppliers plan for the future. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza sat down with the June Swallow, chief of the Office of Drinking Water Quality at the state health department. She oversees the project called SafeWater Rhode Island

URI/RI Sea Grant

With more than 500 public drinking water suppliers in the state, the Rhode Island Department of Health is worried about how they will cope with climate-related changes like intense rains, rising seas, and warmer temperatures. For the next installment of our series, Battle With The Sea, environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza heads to Newport, home to one of the most vulnerable drinking water supplies in the state when it comes to climate change.

RIPR file photo

The push to phase out cesspools in Rhode Island continues. Many environmental advocates are testifying at a senate committee this late afternoon to support a bill that would require homeowners to remove their cesspools when they sell their homes.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is more likely to lose than gain salt marshes due to the rate of rising sea levels. Those are the findings of a recent analysis by the Coastal Resources Management Council.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The parent company of Twin River presented few details to the Tiverton town council regarding its plans to move Newport Grand’s gaming license to Tiverton.

“Tonight we’re here with a clean slate,” said John Taylor, chairman of the Twin River management group's board, said at a town council meeting last night. He brought a set of maps that showed the site the company secured in Tiverton, about 400 feet from the Massachusetts border.

Photo Courtesy of Edouard Dupont-Madinier

An art academy in France, Domaine de Boisbuchet, now has a solar-powered building designed by students from Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt, Germany. The house was part of an international solar competition last year.

thisisbossi / flickr

Hot days last summer triggered high levels of smog pollution across the state, especially in Providence. 

The city earned an F in this year’s State of the Air report, issued by the American Lung Association. Karina Holyoak Wood is the organization’s public policy director in Rhode Island. She said tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders have chronic lung problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.