climate change

Jay Dickson / Brown University/University of Texas/National Science Foundation

Monitoring how the climate is changing in Antarctica’s most stable environments, the desert valleys, is very difficult. But that’s what Jay Dickson, a staff scientist at Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, is trying to do, using time-lapse photography.

Photo Courtesy of Janine Burke

Here’s an effect of climate change you might not have thought of: heavy rains flood wastewater treatment plants. These intense rain storms are one result of warming temperatures. As part of our ongoing series, Battle With The Sea, Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza has a report from a wastewater treatment plant in Warwick.

The Warwick Sewer Authority is located on the banks of the Pawtuxet River, next to what is called an oxbow, the U-shape curve in a river. The river wants to fill in the land next to the oxbow each time it floods. 

Screenshot of STORMTOOLS

The University of Rhode Island, in partnership with the Coastal Resources Management Council, has developed new tools to plan for future climate change threats. New maps with projected storm surge and sea level rise are now available online.

Courtesy of Sara Harris / University of British Columbia

For the past three weeks, we've brought you stories about how climate change is already affecting Rhode Island. Narragansett Bay is getting warmer. Seas are rapidly rising. Shorelines are eroding. And we're experiencing more severe weather events. As part of our new ongoing series, Battle With The Sea, we take a step back this week to look at the science of how we know these changes are happening.

More than 100 people will gather in Newport today to learn how to minimize impacts to waterfront businesses from sea level rise and other severe weather at the 13th Annual Baird Symposium. The one-day conference called, "Staying Afloat: Adapting Waterfront Businesses to Rising Seas and Extreme Storms," kicked off its symposium last night with a public lecture, featuring John Englander, author of High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Levels and the Coming Coastal Crisis

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Within four years, the town of Westerly experienced four major storms: the Great Flood of 2010, Hurricane Irene in 2011, Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and the February 2013 Nor’easter. Like many coastal cities and towns around the state, Westerly is also vulnerable to high tides that flood roads even without storms.

As part of our new ongoing series we’re calling “Battle With The Sea,” Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza looks at how the town of Westerly is wrestling to shore up homes and businesses for future climate change threats.


A Brown University class focused on international climate change policy will culminate the semester this month with hands-on learning in Lima, Peru. That’s where two weeks of U.N. climate negotiations begin today.  More than 150 countries will get together to continue drafting agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Timmons Roberts, Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at Brown University, has attended U.N. climate talks since 2003, helping think tanks and developing countries with research.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Last week, we brought you the story of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s visit to Rhode Island. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse brought the Democratic senator, a strong coal advocate, to witness how climate change is wearing away the landscape here. Manchin learned from fishermen what challenges they’re facing in a changing ocean. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza brings you the second part of this story, when Manchin sees the effects climate change is having on land. 

Hans Hillewaert via Creative Commons License

NOAA Fisheries issued emergency measures last week to protect Gulf of Maine cod. On the heels of this emergency action, the New England Fishery Management Council has recommended new restrictions to address the depleted cod population, as it finalizes next year’s fishing management measures for several fish.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rapidly rising sea levels and severe weather threaten every community and natural habitat in the Ocean State, not just along the coast. Through a new ongoing series we’re calling, Battle With The Sea, Rhode Island Public Radio will examine the range and scope of these threats from city to city and town to town, and the solutions to prepare and strengthen Rhode Island for future threats to come.