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Stanford Earth Matters

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

Summit of Villarica volcano

Stanford scientists eavesdrop on volcanic rumblings to forecast eruptions

Sound waves generated by burbling lakes of lava atop some volcanoes point to greater odds of magmatic outbursts. This finding could provide advance warning to people who live near active volcanoes.

Eiffel Tower illustration

Risk of extreme weather events higher if Paris Agreement goals aren’t met

The Paris Agreement has aspirational goals of limiting temperature rise that won’t be met by current commitments. That difference could make the world another degree warmer and considerably more prone to extreme weather.

oil wells against a sunset

New map profiles induced earthquake risk for West Texas, New Mexico

A seismic stress map created by Stanford geophysicists can help predict which parts of West Texas and New Mexico may be at risk of fracking-induced earthquakes. The map could guide oil discovery efforts in the region.

Stack of cut logs in front of forest.

Getting to Zero Deforestation

A synthesis paper led by Eric Lambin reveals the strengths and weaknesses of corporate environmental pledges, and prescribes solutions to boost effectiveness.

Photo credit: Florence Low/DWR

Share the Wealth: A Cap-And-Trade System of Water Conservation and Resiliency?

In order to meet the California’s future water needs, researchers propose a cap and trade approach to water conservation based on local supply and demand realities.

Student snorkeling among coral reefs.

Learning through fieldwork on Pacific coral reefs

Stanford undergraduates study links between human and natural systems through an interdisciplinary seminar in Palau.

ancient dragonfly fossil

Insects took off when they evolved wings

Now buzzing and whizzing around every continent, insects were mysteriously scarce in the fossil record until 325 million years ago – when they first took flight and, according to a new study, evolutionarily took off.

Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica

Interacting Antarctic glaciers may cause faster melt and sea level contributions

Two of the most rapidly changing glaciers in Antarctica, which are leading contributors to sea-level rise, may behave as an interacting system rather than separate entities, according to a new analysis of radar data.

neodymium on the periodic table

Critical minerals scarcity could threaten renewable energy future

The supply chains for critical and rare minerals are vulnerable to political and economic disruptions that could hamper the global shift to a renewable energy future.

Leafy green vegetables in a growing facility.

Grocery store program improves farmers’ adoption of environmental practices

In one of the first analyses of a company-led sustainability program in the food and agriculture space, Stanford researchers found a major grocery chain fostered increased adoption of environmental practices at the farm level.

The front of Antarctica's Getz Ice Shelf. Photo credit: Jeremy Harbeck/NASA

New Study Reveals Strong El Niño Events Cause Large Changes in Antarctic Ice Shelves

Matthew Siegfried, a postdoctoral researcher working with Dustin Schroeder in the Stanford Radio Glaciology Group, co-authored a study showing oscillations of water temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean can induce rapid melting of Antarctic ice shelves.

Satellite image of first light from NASA's Aqua satellite.

Scientists Probe Water Inside Leaves via Satellite

Earth System Science professor Alexandra Konings and postdoctoral researcher Mostafa Momen help improve satellite-based analysis of vegetation optical depth, a critical indicator for regional and global climate.

2017

Top 10 Stanford Earth research stories of 2017

From laying the groundwork for a billion-sensor quake network to finding lithium deposits around supervolcanoes, these were our favorite research stories of 2017.

military c-130 plane in Antarctica

Vintage film provides Stanford scientists new insights about Antarctica

Applying modern film scanning technology and machine learning to a rare trove of historical airborne radar measurements could provide new insights about how Antarctica’s ice sheets will change in a warming world.

drill rig in Fayetteville Shale gas play in Arkansas

Small earthquakes at fracking sites may be early indicators of bigger tremors to come

Tiny tremors caused by hydraulic fracturing of natural gas near the surface could be early signs of stressful conditions deep underground that could destabilize faults and trigger larger earthquakes.

fire in a conifer-dominated forest

More frequent fires slow plant regrowth

Long-term effects of repeated fires on soils found to have significant impacts on carbon storage not previously considered in global greenhouse gas estimates.

soil and grass cliff

Disrupting sensitive soils

Global warming and land use practices, such as farming, could change the environment for microbes living in the soil and alter the amount of greenhouse gases they release into the atmosphere.

Molten Lava

Puzzle at the center of the Earth

Mysterious patches on the planet’s core that dampen seismic waves could be the result of ancient seawater chemically reacting with iron under extreme conditions.

Moon rises behind wind turbines.

Stanford researchers test public receptiveness to different wind energy turbines

New research suggests vertical axis turbines, which may have fewer impacts on birds and the environment, could increase public support for new wind energy installations.

Winds of change for vertical axis turbines?

New research suggests vertical axis turbines, which may have fewer impacts on birds and the environment, could increase public support for new wind energy installations.

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