Stanford University
coral reef

Stanford Earth Matters

Get Stanford Earth Matters stories delivered to your inbox each month.

Subscribe

About Stanford Earth Matters

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cornfield

Using nature's miracle bugs to help feed the world

It takes massive energy to make nitrogen fertilizer. Modified bacteria can do it at room temperature.

Muskrat on lake ice

Stanford research shows muskrats are a bellwether for a drying delta

Downstream of hydroelectric dams and Alberta’s oil sands, one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas is drying out. New Stanford University research suggests long-term drying is making it harder for muskrats to recover from massive die-offs. It’s a sign of threats to come for many other species.

Flooded plants

Floods may be nearly as important as droughts for future carbon accounting

In a 34-year global analysis, researchers found that photosynthesis – an important process for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in soil – was controlled by extreme wet events nearly as often as droughts in certain locations.

Monarch tagging

A climate change solution: Invest in environmental education

Governments need to double down on investments and innovation in educating youth and communities about the environment if future generations are to be able to respond effectively and with appropriate urgency to the climate emergency, according to Stanford researchers. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

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. (Source: Stanford News)

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.

IconsList of icons used on the sitemaillinkedindouble carrot leftarrow leftdouble carrotplayerinstagramclosecarrotquotefacebooktwitterplusminussearchmenuarrowcloudclock