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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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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.

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.

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.

Loggerhead sea turtle underwater

Illuminating a sea turtle mystery

North Pacific loggerhead turtles’ years-long oceanic journeys remain poorly understood. Using data from satellite tracking and other techniques, scientists reveal a unique phenomenon that may explain the endangered migrants’ pathway.

Homes with rooftop solar panels

How to close the clean-energy divide

An engineer and clean-energy entrepreneur discusses the troubling socio-economic gap in access to sustainable energy and the things we can do now to narrow and, perhaps, close it.

Farmland at sunset

Climate change has hurt farm productivity

New research shows climate change has wiped out seven years of improvements in agricultural productivity over the past 60 years.

Jordan desert with video play button

Jordan's worsening water crisis a warning for the world

Prolonged and potentially destabilizing water shortages will become commonplace in Jordan by 2100, new research finds, unless the nation implements comprehensive reform, from fixing leaky pipes to desalinating seawater. Jordan’s water crisis is emblematic of challenges looming around the world as a result of climate change and rapid population growth. 

Protestors holding sign that reads clean water is a human right

Q&A: Environmental policies for all Americans?

Stanford researchers weigh in on how the Biden administration can address environmental justice and social issues that have been generations in the making.

Carbon capture facility

Revealing the cost of a key climate solution

While most climate scientists agree on the need for carbon capture and storage, there has been little clarity about the full lifecycle costs of carbon storage infrastructure.

Nuclear plant

Breaking U.S. nuclear waste stalemate could be key to Biden’s climate goals

Stanford University experts are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration can change the U.S. trajectory on nuclear waste, and they offer their thoughts on how it can be done.

Mackerel school

Aquaculture’s promise and peril

Twenty years ago, a Stanford-led analysis sparked controversy by highlighting fish farming’s damage to ocean fisheries. Now a follow-up study takes stock of the industry’s progress and points to opportunities for sustainable growth.

Trees in a savannah

One of Earth's biggest carbon sinks has been overestimated

The results contradict a widely accepted assumption in climate models that biomass and soil carbon will increase in tandem in the coming decades and highlight the importance of grasslands in helping to draw down carbon.

East Branch California Aqueduct in Palmdale, Calif. in 2014

The future of America's drinking water

Naming priorities such as better land management, an evolved portfolio of 21st-century solutions and more funding for research and development, Stanford experts highlight areas central to success as the Biden-Harris administration aims its sights on safeguarding U.S. drinking water.

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