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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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Corn stalks

Warmer climate will dramatically increase the volatility of global corn crops

A new study co-authored by Earth System Science professor Rosamond Naylor looks at what climate change will mean for global yields of corn, or maize, the most widely grown crop in the world. The study shows dramatic increases in the variability of annual corn yields, which could lead to price hikes and global shortages. 

Hummingbird

Nectar research reveals how species coexist

Different species almost always coexist – whether it’s big animals on the plains, bugs in a jungle or yeasts in flower nectar – but how that works is complicated. Now, Stanford researchers have teased apart competing theories of how species live together.

Charging vehicle

Can utilities afford electric vehicle commitments?

Energy policy expert Michael Wara comments on the decision to approve $768 million in transportation electrification projects and how it could affect utilities, the environment and California ratepayers.

Amazon rainforest

Height matters for tree survival in the Amazon

A new study shows that tall and older Amazonian forests are more resilient to drought than shorter and younger forests, but more vulnerable to the effects of a dry atmosphere and heat.

Fruit bat in Kerala

Nipah: A little-known virus that could become the next global pandemic

An outbreak of Nipah in South India has renewed interest in the deadly virus. Stanford epidemiologist Stephen Luby explains risk factors, potential interventions and how land conversion connects to the emergence of this kind of infection.

city heatwave

Climate mitigation could yield trillions in economic benefits

Stanford scientists found that the global economy is likely to benefit from ambitious global warming limits agreed to in the United Nations Paris Agreement.

Coral reef

Editing coral DNA in search for keys to survival

Stanford scientists and their colleagues have used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system to modify genes in coral, a key step toward pinpointing natural gene variants that may help corals survive in warmer waters.

Mammoth tooth fossil

Influence of early humans on mammal biodiversity occurred earlier than previously thought

Fossil study finds early human activity — not climate shifts — led to the systematic decline of large animals around the globe that predated human migration out of Africa. The findings add to concerns about continued biodiversity loss and the impact on ecosystems.

Biorefinery at sunset

A way for carbon capture at biorefineries to pay off

A new paper maps out how tax credits and possible incentives from state fuel standards could allow ethanol producers to profit from removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

krill

Swarms of tiny organisms churn ocean waters

Zooplankton may have an outsize influence on their environment, creating enough turbulence to influence global nutrient cycles and climate models.

exhaust from car

EPA's proposed rollbacks of mileage standards are a terrible idea

Rob Jackson argues in Scientific American that proposed EPA mileage rollbacks are shortsighted and a matter of human health as well as economics.

Traffic

Potential impacts of emissions rule rollback

An economist and climate policy expert discuss the possible consequences to fuel efficiency regulation changes.

Smoke Stack drawing

A precedent for climate change litigation?

A trial takes surprising turns and could reshape the legal landscape around climate-change related damages.

fire and pellets

Negative-emissions systems to protect climate

New study examines the potential for biomass growing sites, CO2 storage sites, and co-location. In the near term, the technology could remove up to 110 million tons of CO2, or 1.5% of total U.S. emissions annually. 

Student snorkeling among coral reefs.

Learning through fieldwork in Palau

Undergraduates study links between human and natural systems in a program that puts them up close with corals. Stanford Earth professor Rob Dunbar is a lead instructor. 

farm tractor

Soil holds potential to slow global warming

The land under our feet and the plant matter it contains could offset a significant amount of carbon emissions if managed properly.

Ugandan forest

Paying Farmers Not to Cut Down Trees in Uganda Helps Fight Climate Change

A new study demonstrates a cost-effective strategy to combat climate change by paying farmers in Uganda to conserve and plant trees.

Blue sea ice

Poor outlook for biodiversity in Antarctica

A comparison of Antarctic biodiversity and its management with global trends finds that it is more similar to the rest of the world than previously believed. 

city skyline

Society needs to better understand the economics of climate change

Gaps in social science knowledge of climate change constrain the policy impact of natural science research, a Stanford team argues.

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