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Stanford Earth Matters

Science and insights for people who care about Earth, its resources and its environment

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Cement plant from above

For a low-carbon cement recipe, Stanford scientists look to Earth’s cauldrons

As the most-used building material on the planet and one of the world’s largest industrial contributors to global warming, concrete has long been a target for reinvention. Stanford scientists say replacing one of concrete’s main ingredients with volcanic rock could slash carbon emissions from manufacture of the material by nearly two-thirds.

Social cost of carbon concept

Stanford explainer: The social cost of carbon

In a Q&A, Stanford economists describe what the social cost of carbon is, how it is calculated and used in policymaking, and how it relates to environmental justice.

Phytoplankton

Fungus creates a fast track for carbon

New research focused on interactions among microbes in water suggests fungal microparasites play a bigger than expected role in aquatic food webs and the global carbon cycle.

Traffic on the Oakland Bridge

Coastal flooding increases Bay Area traffic delays and accidents

Disruptions from sea level rise and coastal flooding events have significant indirect impacts on urban traffic networks and road safety.

Homes in Nicaragua flooded by Hurricane Eta

How does climate change affect migration?

April 2021 saw a 20-year high in the number of people stopped at the U.S./Mexico border, and President Joe Biden recently raised the cap on annual refugee admissions. Stanford researchers discuss how climate change’s effect on migration will change, how we can prepare for the impacts and what kind of policies could help alleviate the issue.

hiker in the hills by Hannah Shabb

Researchers reveal environmental learning in unexpected places

A wide range of organizations focused on areas as seemingly disparate as social justice, religion and the arts play important roles in helping people understand and act on environmental issues. Stanford environmental experts discuss their analysis of nearly 1,000 such organizations in the San Francisco Bay.

Aerial view of Hiawatha Glacier

Airborne radar reveals groundwater beneath glacier

Researchers have detected groundwater beneath a glacier in Greenland for the first time using airborne radar data. If applicable to other glaciers and ice sheets, the technique could allow for more accurate predictions of future sea-level rise.

Coral reef fish

Biodiversity loss in warming oceans

A fossil study from Stanford University finds the diversity of life in the world’s oceans declined time and again over the past 145 million years during periods of extreme warming. Temperatures that make it hard for cold-blooded sea creatures to breathe have likely been among the biggest drivers for shifts in the distribution of marine biodiversity.

Solar panel and setting sun

What it may take to harness solar energy on Native lands

The Navajo Nation has the most capacity, but its troubled energy history and culture of livestock grazing make solar development fraught.

Pregnant woman with water glass

Higher levels of nitrate in drinking water linked to preterm birth, study finds

Women exposed to higher levels of nitrate in drinking water were more likely to deliver very early, according to a study of 1.4 million California births.

Coring and geophysical well-logging operation in Texas

Local impacts from fracking the Eagle Ford

Stanford scientists simulated the local risk of damaging or nuisance-level shaking caused by hydraulic fracturing across the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. The results could inform a new approach to managing human-caused earthquakes.

Road washed away by flooding

Q&A: Why is climate change at the center of a $2.3 trillion federal plan?

In an address to Congress, President Joe Biden pitched a wide-ranging initiative called the American Jobs Plan. Stanford researchers discuss how and why climate change resilience is central to the initiative.

Flooding south of Houston in September in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (Credit Barbara Davidson for The New York Times)

Homes in floodplains are overvalued by nearly $44 billion

Analysis of sales data and flood risk data over two decades indicates that housing markets fail to fully account for information about flood risk. The findings suggest that policies to improve risk communication could influence market outcomes.

Cracked concrete

'DeepShake' predicts earthquake shaking intensity with AI

A deep neural network developed at Stanford and trained on more than 36,000 earthquakes offers a new way to quickly predict earthquake shaking intensity and issue early warnings of strong shaking.

Person removing asbestos from building

U.S. asbestos sites made risky by some remediation strategies

Efforts to prevent human exposure to asbestos may be mobilizing the cancer-causing mineral so that it can reach water supplies, based on new findings about how the fibers move through soil.

Melt stream on Greenland

Can extreme melt destabilize ice sheets?

Researchers have deciphered a trove of data that shows one season of extreme melt can reduce the Greenland Ice Sheet’s capacity to store future meltwater – and increase the likelihood of future melt raising sea levels.

Brick kiln chimneys in Dhaka, Bangladesh

AI empowers environmental regulators

Monitoring environmental compliance is a particular challenge for governments in poor countries. A new machine learning approach that uses satellite imagery to pinpoint highly polluting brick kilns in Bangladesh could provide a low-cost solution.

Wind turbines at sunset

The science behind decarbonization

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts who are revealing the stakes of emission cuts, enabling better carbon accounting, predicting the consequences of future emission pathways and mapping out viable solutions.

Illustration of planet outgassing

Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres

The gases released from meteorite samples heated in a high-temperature furnace can tell scientists about the initial composition of the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets.

2019 Webby Award Nominee

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