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.

For millennia, people have coveted rare goods they could get only through trade with others. The Ancestral Puebloans of the Colorado Plateau were no exception. They traveled great distances to exchange items like local turquoise, hides, and pottery for exotic shells, copper bells, and cacao.

Earth Notes: Tracking El Nino

Dec 23, 2015

Every few years the equatorial Pacific Ocean warms, producing the phenomenon known as El Nino and causing a whole raft of environmental impacts around much of the world. The pattern was named by South American fishermen in the 1600's who noticed a change in fishing conditions around the Christmas season.

Fossil bones and ancient stone points clearly show that both giant mammoths and hunting peoples roamed the high Southwest some 13,000 years ago. But did these two types of mammals meet? Rock art researcher Ekkehart Malotki thinks that a petroglyph panel on the San Juan River holds a tantalizing clue.


For decades now, puzzled birdwatchers in the southern tier of states have noticed that in some years, birds from Canada's boreal forests turn up for unexpected winter sunshine vacations in vast numbers.

After smoking, the second-leading cause of lung cancer is colorless, odorless, tasteless—and can come from right underfoot. Radon is a naturally occurring gas formed from the radioactive decay of radium and uranium. Those elements are present in most soils and rocks, though usually in very small concentrations.