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Stanford Earth Matters

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About Stanford Earth Matters



Explore major developments in environmental science and policy with Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.


Read commentary and opinions on sustainability, Earth and environmental science from Stanford experts.


Discover books that can spark curiosity about our planet and conversations about the ways we live, think and learn.

Gas stove

Climate and health impacts of natural gas stoves

Natural gas stoves release methane – a potent greenhouse gas – and other pollutants through leaks and incomplete combustion. Stanford researchers estimate that methane leaking from stoves inside U.S. homes has the same climate impact as about 500,000 gasoline-powered cars and the stoves can expose people to respiratory disease-triggering pollutants. VIDEO

Aerial view of rivers on land without vegetation

A story written in mud

Geologists have long assumed that the evolution of land plants enabled rivers to form snakelike meanders, but a review of recent research overturns that classic theory – and it calls for a reinterpretation of the rock record.

“Three Sisters” plantings at the Washoe community garden

Native agriculture never went away. Now it is on the rise.

Despite persistent efforts by the U.S. government to eradicate Indigenous farming and ranching practices, they are regaining currency in an American West stressed by drought, diminishing resources and climate change. (Source: Bill Lane Center for the American West)

Moon surface

Mysterious Moon magnetism, explained

New modeling suggests giant, cool blobs of titanium-rich rocks sinking down to the ancient Moon’s hot core could have produced intermittently strong magnetic fields for the first billion years of the Moon’s history.

Green finance external link

Green finance: Navigating the road to 'net zero'

Read an excerpt from Settling Climate Accounts on the emerging practice of Net Zero finance. The new book is an edited volume of essays by Stanford researchers that offers technical analysis wrapped in narrative accounts of climate action past, present, and future. (Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review)

Battery illustration external link

Revitalizing batteries by bringing ‘dead’ lithium back to life

Islands of inactive lithium creep like worms to reconnect with their electrodes, restoring a battery’s capacity and lifespan. (Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

Editor's picks collage

Editor’s picks: Top 10 stories of 2021

Our list includes a mix of favorites, high-impact stories and some of our most read research coverage from a year of uncertainty, adaptation and discovery.

Aerial view of Ile Anglaise reef

Researchers test physics of coral as an indicator of reef health

New research shows that physics measurements of just a small portion of reef can be used to assess the health of an entire reef system. The findings may help scientists grasp how these important ecosystems will respond to a changing climate.

Weather collage

Climate of chaos: Why warming makes weather less predictable

A Stanford University study shows chaos reigns earlier in midlatitude weather models as temperatures rise. The result? Climate change could be shifting the limits of weather predictability and pushing reliable 10-day forecasts out of reach.

Traffic at golden hour

An equitable approach to reducing traffic through congestion pricing

A team of researchers argues that AI enables a form of congestion pricing that could reduce traffic jams and minimize wealth inequality through refunds.

Carbon reporting external link

To kickstart climate action, make companies report their carbon footprints

In a series of recent papers, Stanford Graduate School of Business accounting professor emeritus Stefan Reichelstein and colleagues have argued that we should require corporations to disclose their CO2 emissions in their annual reports. (Source: Insights by Stanford Business)

Perched robot

Bird-like robot perches and grasps

With feet and legs like a peregrine falcon, engineers have created a robot that can perch and carry objects like a bird. Possible applications include search and rescue, wildfire monitoring and environmental research.

Nevada lithium mining operation

Lithium mining: Does a global good require local sacrifice in the Southwest?

Decarbonizing global transportation requires building a huge quantity of batteries so fleets can convert to electric power. This will mean more mining to supply the lightweight metal lithium. So far, most lithium has come from Australia, South America, and China, but eyes are turning to deposits in the United States. (Source: Bill Lane Center for the American West)

Aquaculture with video icon

The economics of making fish feed with 'stranded' methane

Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, can be captured and transformed into protein-rich feed for farmed fish – an increasingly important food sector. A new analysis shows how to make the approach more cost-effective than current fish feeds.

Flooded neighborhood external link

How climate threatens our health

"Climate’s impact on health allows us to put our arms around a problem," says Michele Barry, director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health. "When you bring health into the equation, all of a sudden, people can focus on the impact – the very real impact – on their lives." (Source: Stanford Medicine)

Charred forest

Trees on the move: How wildfire accelerates forest changes

As climate conditions change, tree species are shifting their ranges. Wildfire is accelerating this process, likely by reducing competition from established species – a finding that raises questions about how to manage land in an era of shifting ecosystems.

River restoration

Improve or remove: Funding for U.S. dams

Key ideas and proposals from an agreement between the hydropower industry and environmental community, facilitated through a Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Uncommon Dialogue, have been included in the $1 trillion infrastructure package adopted by the U.S. Senate. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

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