Earth Notes

The Colorado Plateau is one of North America’s human and environmental treasures. Ancient cultures have called this land of sun-baked deserts and lush mountain landscapes home for centuries. Earth Notes, KNAU’s weekly environmental series, explores the Plateau by telling stories of the intricate relationships between environmental issues and our daily lives.

Rooted in science and wrapped in human interest, the two minute long segments encourage listeners to think of themselves as part of the solution to environmental problems. Upbeat and informative, the program tries to foster hope and dampen despair about the environment, and motivate listeners to become more conscious and informed stewards of the Colorado Plateau.

Dave Herr, USDA Forest Service

No city park or town plaza is complete without the presence of ubiquitous house sparrows — birds so resourceful and adaptable that they can be found even at remote ranches with just a couple of trees. House sparrows are the little brown birds, often with black bibs, that hop around on the ground, cadging bugs, leftover French fries and sandwich crumbs.

Earth Notes: Early Cotton

Jan 22, 2014
National Park Service

A thousand years ago, farmers on the Colorado Plateau were known for their classic crop trio of corn, beans and squash. But, in some places, they were also growing, using and trading cotton.  

Earth Notes: Ancient Peoples and Fire

Jan 15, 2014
Library of Congress

In modern times human presence has influenced the size and number of wildfires on the Colorado Plateau. We are, in part, responsible for more big fires and fewer small ones. But is there also a connection between ancient peoples and wildfire?

Earth Notes: Sedona Sinkholes

Jan 8, 2014
Arizona Geological Survey

The colorful red rock geology of Sedona looks timeless. But, the complicated topography hides layers of rock that aren't as solid as they appear. And that might - in some places - even pose a threat to humans.

Rose Houk/KNAU

Grand Canyon river guides work long hours. In the last 2 years, some of them took on a seemingly unlikely new duty: collecting flies. By doing so, they've helped scientists learn more about the big canyon's aquatic food web.

Measures of Drought

Dec 4, 2013
University of Arizona Climate Assessment of the Southwest

Drought is a universally understood phenomenon — especially here in the arid Southwest. But what does drought really mean? To help define the term, and the concept, scientists use several commonly used drought indices. Each summarizes thousands of data points on rainfall and other information into a single handy number.

Northern Arizona University

In late September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Summary for Policymakers for part-one of its  massive Fifth Assessment Report. Its message? Earth's climate is warming, and human influence on that warming is clear.

USDA Agricultural Research Service

In September, 2013, when hail damaged 5,000 pounds of tomatoes at Linley Dixon's southwest Colorado farm, she acted quickly. Facing the loss of $10,000 worth of produce, she rallied, via e-mail, a troupe of volunteers to pick every hail-spanked fruit off the fine.

Earth Notes: Chaco Canyon's New Residents

Nov 13, 2013
Lauren Kiser

A trip to Chaco Canyon in northwest New Mexico is a pilgrimage to see one of the greatest archaeological areas in the Southwest. While most visitors explore famed sites like Pueblo Bonito, lately they've been treated to an exciting - and unexpected - wildlife sighting.

Earth Notes: Grand Canyon's Tiny Snail

Nov 7, 2013
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Biologists have been putting in a big effort to protect a rare, tiny snail that lives beside the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.