The reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman of the Seattle Times have been named winners of the 2014 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism. Their series, “Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn,” examines and illuminates ocean acidification, the lesser-known twin of global warming.
Welch and Ringman spent a year on this local yet global story: Scientists are concerned that a faster-than-expected rise in ocean acidification could have a catastrophic impact on industries and coastal communities dependent on the sea ¬– and at some point the very sustainability of sea life and the planet’s food supplies.
Their reporting and imagery takes you to places where upwelling waters carry the atmospheric carbon dioxide that settles on the ocean floor more quickly into coastal ecosystems. To explain the process and show the damage, they traveled to the frigid Northwest, where oysters and some plankton species are changing, and to the tropical waters of Papua New Guinea, where volcanic gases are providing researchers an early view of the ocean’s future.
“Aquifer at Risk”
Ian James and Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun