2023 Science Reporting - Large Outlet - Gold

Scientists are finding direct, sometimes surprising, connections between climate changes in the Arctic and Antarctic and disruptive events closer to home. The NPR team used text and supporting multimedia resources to vividly explain how phenomena occurring thousands of miles away are producing sea level rise along the coast of Texas, increasingly destructive wildfires in the western United States, and changes in the feeding behavior of right whales in the North Atlantic. Melting ice in West Antarctica disproportionately affects Texas, in part because major ocean currents carry the meltwater to the Gulf of Mexico and the shores of Texas. In the western United States, there is an Arctic connection: Sea ice is now breaking up three weeks earlier on average than it did in 2003. The open sea absorbs sunlight more readily, creating rising warm air that can influence the polar jet stream and create conditions for explosive wildfires in the West. Along the East Coast, the team reported, meltwater from Greenland is affecting North Atlantic currents, causing warmer waters off the coast of Maine and forcing right whales to move further north to find food sources. “Often the best way to tell the story of something as immense and overwhelming as the global climate crisis is to focus on specific places, specific victims, and specific mechanisms of change,” said judge Claudia Wallis, a freelance science journalist and veteran magazine editor. “That is what the NPR’s multimedia team did in this illuminating series.”  Regarding the award, the NPR team commented: “Telling this story took a huge team of people with lots of different skills. In the end, it was a story that called for a truly multimedia approach: audio, illustration, video, maps, photographs, archival documents ― we used them all to connect the dots between our everyday lives and disappearing ice.”