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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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About Stanford Earth Matters magazine

2018

Editor's picks: Top 10 stories of 2018

From revelations about the hidden messages in burbling lakes of lava to the staggering costs of runaway climate change, these 10 stories shed light on our planet and how we're changing it. They include our editor's picks and some our best-read stories for the year.

Refinery

Scientific basis for EPA's endangerment finding is stronger than ever

Stanford researchers along with scholars across the country find the evidence for greenhouse gases endangering human health and welfare is even more significant than previously thought.

Ocean

Why deep oceans gave life to the first big, complex organisms

Why did the first big, complex organisms spring to life in deep, dark oceans where food was scarce? A new study finds great depths provided a stable, life-sustaining refuge from wild temperature swings in the shallows.

Pika

It's in the genes – potential hope for pikas hit by climate change

As climate change drives mountain-dwelling pikas to higher altitudes, the animals can dial certain genes up or down to make the most of their cooler home’s limited oxygen.

Future oceans

A glimpse into future oceans

Volcanic carbon dioxide vents off the coast of Italy are rapidly acidifying nearby waters, providing a crystal ball-view into potential future marine biodiversity impacts around the world.

Getz Ice Shelf

What caused Earth's biggest mass extinction?

Scientists have debated until now what made Earth's oceans so inhospitable to life that some 96 percent of marine species died off at the end of the Permian period. New research shows the "Great Dying" was caused by global warming that left ocean animals unable to breathe.

Energy

Global carbon dioxide emissions rise even as coal wanes and renewables boom

Renewable energy capacity has hit record levels and global coal use may have already peaked. But the world's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased in 2018, and the trend places global warming targets in jeopardy.  

Forest in Alaska.

Ecologist finds optimism in Alaskan forests

In her new book, Lauren Oakes explores a journey of loss, adaptation and resilience to climate change.

Earth

Regions increasingly suffer hot, dry conditions at the same time

Odds are rising that warm, dry conditions – the kind that can hurt crop yields, destabilize food prices and exacerbate wildfires – will strike multiple regions at once. A new Stanford study shows just how much the risk is increasing.

Muskrat.

Drying Canadian wetland drives muskrat decline

A new study shows loss of habitat in Canada’s Peace-Athabasca Delta is likely responsible for the decline of semi-aquatic muskrat, and could have larger implications.

Wildfire smoke

Wildfires destroying California bring questions about health and climate

California’s wildfires have destroyed homes and communities, and even people hundreds of miles away are feeling the effects of smoke. Stanford faculty weigh in on the health effects and increasing frequency of fires.

Capitol Building

What do the midterm results mean for environmental policy?

The recent midterm elections could have far-reaching implications for the direction of federal- and state-level environment and energy policy. Stanford experts discuss ways forward, lessons learned and more.

Caterpillar fungus

Climate change, overharvesting may doom a pricey parasite

Stanford researchers show how warmer winters and booming demand for one of the world’s most expensive medicinal species may hurt ecosystems and communities in the Himalayas.

Butterflyfish

Fish give up the fight after coral bleaching

A new study offers some of the first evidence that coral bleaching may trigger rapid and potentially disruptive change in fish behavior.

Meltwater stream on glacier in Greenland

Scientists find missing piece in glacier melt predictions

A new method for observing water within ice has revealed stored meltwater that may explain the complex flow behavior of some Greenland glaciers, an important component for predicting sea-level rise in a changing climate.

broken glass

The impact of climate change on human behavior

Obscured behind better-known impacts of climate change lies the possibility of more wars, higher crime rates and greater infant mortality.

Ocean wind

Searching the sea for climate solutions

A new study examines how renewable energy, marine protected areas, carbon storage in marine plants, and other ocean-based solutions could help to combat climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems.

Hollywood Freeway

California's vehicle emissions fight continues a 50-year struggle

California’s resistance to federal plans loosening vehicle emissions standards is nothing new. Over the decades, the state has fought repeatedly to stay in the forefront of pollution controls.

Forest

Diverse forests are stronger against drought

Diversity reigns when water gets scarce. New research suggests the most resilient forests are made up of trees that have a wider variety of rates for water moving up from the soil.

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