Rebecca Hersher

Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.

Hersher was part of the NPR team that won a Peabody award for coverage of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and produced a story from Liberia that won an Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound. She was a finalist for the 2017 Daniel Schorr prize; a 2017 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting fellow, reporting on sanitation in Haiti; and a 2015 NPR Above the Fray fellow, investigating the causes of the suicide epidemic in Greenland.

Prior to working at NPR, Hersher reported on biomedical research and pharmaceutical news for Nature Medicine.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upgraded the computer model that forecasters use to predict the weather one to two weeks in the future, called the Global Forecast System. The new model is better at predicting where hurricanes will form and how intense they will be as well as where and when snowstorms and rainstorms will occur, and how much precipitation will fall.

"This is going to have a fundamental impact on the forecasts that are provided day to day," says Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service.

Humans have changed the Earth in such profound ways that scientists say we have entered a new geological period: the Anthropocene Epoch.

But when did the new epoch officially begin? And how, exactly, should it be defined?

Those are the questions that geologists are pursuing with increasing urgency at sites around the world. Teams are studying 11 locations on five continents, looking for a place where rock, mud or ice perfectly capture the global impact of humans.

Federal scientists have confirmed that 2020 basically tied with 2016 for the hottest year recorded since 1880. The Earth is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer today than it was in the mid-20th century. Scientists warn that humans must keep global temperatures from rising more than about 3 degrees Fahrenheit in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

With just a few weeks left, 2020 is in a dead-heat tie for the hottest year on record. But whether it claims the top spot misses the point, climate scientists say. There is no shortage of disquieting statistics about what is happening to the Earth.

The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again.

But the predicted destruction is still shocking when it unfolds at the same time.

Some of the country's most polluting industries have flooded state regulators with requests to ease environmental regulations, according to an NPR review of hundreds of state environmental records.

Companies across the country say the pandemic is interfering with their ability to comply with laws that protect the public from pollution.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 2020 will be an above-average hurricane season, with six to 10 hurricanes. NOAA expects three to six to be Category 3 or higher, with sustained wind speeds above 110 miles per hour.

The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. The withdrawal will be complete this time next year, after a one-year waiting period has elapsed.

"We will continue to work with our global partners to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change and prepare for and respond to natural disasters," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Monday.

As the world's climate changes, ocean warming is accelerating and sea levels are rising more quickly, warns a new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report is a synthesis of the most up-to-date climate science on oceans and ice, and it lays out a stark reality: Ocean surface temperatures have been warming steadily since 1970, and for the past 25 years or so, they've been warming twice as fast.

Leaders from nearly 200 countries are attending a special United Nations Summit on climate change today as they face increasing pressure from citizens around the world to cut global greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming.

Currently, global emissions are on track to cause potentially catastrophic climate change in the coming decades.

Scientists are ramping up research on the possible health effects of a large group of common but little-understood chemicals used in water-resistant clothing, stain-resistant furniture, nonstick cookware and many other consumer products.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Scott Pruitt will no longer lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon via Twitter.

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt," Trump tweeted. "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this," Trump also wrote.

On Monday, the moon will completely eclipse the sun, and people all over the U.S. will watch.

For those who have been boning up on eclipse trivia for weeks, congratulations. For everyone else, here are the things you need to know about the phenomenon.

Where can I see the eclipse?

A partial solar eclipse will be visible everywhere in the contiguous United States, but to see the total solar eclipse, you'll need to be in a sash of land that cuts from Oregon to South Carolina.

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET Saturday

A federal judge in Seattle has issued a nationwide temporary stay against President Trump's executive order that prevented citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Judge James Robart acted to stop implementation of the order while a case brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota is heard.

The White House issued a statement Friday night, saying the Justice Department will appeal the Seattle judge's action: