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Butterfly and bee on flower

Plants evolved complexity in two bursts – with a 250-million-year hiatus

A new method for quantifying plant evolution reveals that after the onset of early seed plants, complexity halted for 250 million years until the diversification of flowering plants about 100 million years ago.

Map labeled with damaged and undamaged buildings

AI system identifies buildings damaged by wildfire

A deep learning approach to classifying buildings with wildfire damage may help responders focus their recovery efforts and offer more immediate information to displaced residents.

Farming seaweed

Blue food revolution

Hunger, malnutrition and obesity affect billions of people. A first-of-its-kind comprehensive review of the so-called blue foods sector reveals challenges and opportunities for creating a healthier, more sustainable, equitable and resilient global food system.

Fish market in Vietnam

Study suggests rising and shifting demand for seafood by 2050

Humanity is likely to consume more fish and shellfish in the coming decades. Preparing for that future requires better data on the types of fish that people eat, sustainable expansion of aquaculture and improved understanding of the local context for the food on our plates.

Supercell storm

Scientists solve mystery of supercell storms' icy plumes

The most devastating tornadoes are often preceded by a cloudy plume of ice and water vapor billowing above a severe thunderstorm. New research reveals the mechanism for these plumes could be tied to “hydraulic jumps” – a phenomenon Leonardo Da Vinci observed more than 500 years ago.

East Troublesome Fire, Colorado

How do people respond to wildfire smoke?

Interviews with Northern California residents reveal that social norms and social support are essential for understanding protective health behaviors during wildfire smoke events – information that could be leveraged to improve public health outcomes.

Caldor Fire, August 2021

California Burning: Fire, Drought and Climate Change

Western states are once again in severe drought with water in short supply. And California’s fire season is starting earlier and causing more devastation. Buzz Thompson, one of the country’s leading water law experts, discusses California’s wildfires, drought, water and climate change.

NASA Earth satellites

Researchers make alkali metal-chlorine batteries rechargeable

A new type of rechargeable alkali metal-chlorine battery developed at Stanford holds six times more electricity than the commercially available rechargeable lithium ion batteries commonly used today.

Networked city

How to measure an earthquake through the internet

New technologies that detect motion in the Earth’s crust are emerging in surprising places and reshaping our understanding of earthquakes.

Smoky San Francisco

Wildfire smoke exposure during pregnancy increases preterm birth risk, study finds

Smoke from wildfires may have contributed to thousands of additional premature births in California between 2007 and 2012. The findings underscore the value of reducing the risk of big, extreme wildfires and suggest pregnant people should avoid very smoky air.

Rain storm in distance

Researchers use artificial intelligence to unlock extreme weather mysteries

A new machine learning approach helps scientists understand why extreme precipitation days in the Midwest are becoming more frequent. It could also help scientists better predict how these and other extreme weather events will change in the future.

Drone hovering above oil refinery

A better way to track methane in the skies?

Several studies have found that the EPA underestimates the amount of methane leaking from U.S. oil and gas operations by as much as half. A new Stanford-led study shows how better data can lead to more accurate estimates and points to some of the causes of the EPA’s undercount.

Morraine Fire

Q&A: A blueprint for protecting communities and restoring a lower intensity fire regime

California may be headed for another record-breaking wildfire season. Stanford researchers discuss the shift in federal, state and local approaches necessary to turn the tide of destruction.

Farmland during 2012 drought

Global warming increased U.S. crop insurance losses by $27 billion in 27 years

Higher temperatures attributed to climate change caused payouts from the nation’s biggest farm support program to increase by $27 billion between 1991 and 2017, according to new estimates from Stanford researchers. Costs are likely to rise even further with the growing intensity and frequency of heat waves and other severe weather events.

Summit lava lake

Scientists test friction laws in the collapsing crater of an erupting volcano

A new analysis of the 2018 collapse of Kīlauea volcano’s caldera helps to confirm the reigning scientific paradigm for how friction works on earthquake faults. The model quantifies the conditions necessary to initiate the kind of caldera collapse that sustains big, damaging eruptions of basaltic volcanoes like Kīlauea and could help to inform forecasting and mitigation.

Small device on ice sheet with sun in background

Solar radio signals could be used to monitor melting ice sheets

A new method for seeing through ice sheets using radio signals from the sun could enable cheap, low-power and widespread monitoring of ice sheet evolution and contribution to sea-level rise.

Neighborhood with several feet of flooding

Sea-level rise may worsen existing Bay Area inequities

Researchers examined the number of households unable to pay for damages from coastal flooding to reveal how sea-level rise could threaten the fabric of Bay Area communities over the next 40 years.

Peel River

Longest known continuous record of the Paleozoic discovered in Yukon wilderness

Stanford-led expeditions to a remote area of Yukon, Canada, have uncovered a 120-million-year-long geological record of a time when land plants and complex animals first evolved and ocean oxygen levels began to approach those in the modern world.

Tree roots

Stanford ecologists develop a theory about how plants ‘pay’ their microbes

Combining economics, psychology and studies of fertilizer application, researchers find that plants nearly follow an “equal pay for equal work” rule when giving resources to partner microbes – except when those microbes underperform.

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