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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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Fire

Tracking the tinderbox: Mapping dry wildfire fuels with AI and new satellite data

Researchers have developed a deep-learning model that maps fuel moisture levels in fine detail across 12 western states, opening a door for better fire predictions.

Bike wheel

Environment and energy after COVID-19

Global carbon dioxide emissions are down dramatically in the wake of COVID-19. A new study pinpoints where energy demand has dropped the most, estimates the impact on annual emissions and points the way to a less polluted future.

Flood

Double-whammy weather

Like an undulating seesaw, weather in some regions swings from drought to heavy rain under the weight of climate-induced changes, a new study finds.

Planet B

Q&A: Climate change politics in the high school classroom

A Stanford education scholar discusses how young people are affected by the politicization of climate change – and what science teachers can do to help bridge the divide.

Gas heater

Water heaters’ methane leaks are high, but fixable

Emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from water heaters are higher than previously estimated, especially for a new type of heater growing in popularity, a new study finds. But simple fixes exist.

Cedar Fire, Sequoia National Forest

Longer, more extreme wildfire seasons

A new study finds that autumn days with extreme fire weather have more than doubled in California since the early 1980s due to climate change.

Coffee plants

Crop diversity can buffer the effects of climate change

The researchers found that farms with diverse crops planted together provide more secure, stable habitats for wildlife and are more resilient to climate change than the single-crop standard that dominates today’s agriculture industry.

Skyline

Climate change means more extreme weather than predicted

Analysis shows global warming is intensifying the occurrence of unprecedented hot spells and downpours faster than predicted by historical trends. New approaches for incorporating global warming into extreme weather analysis could improve global risk management.

Himalayas

Could climate change bring more landslides to High Mountain Asia?

Researchers used satellite estimates and modeled precipitation data to show warming temperatures will cause more intense rainfall in some areas of the High Mountain Asia region, and this could lead to increased landslide activity in the border region of China and Nepal.

Amazon rainforest

Where in the world can plants best soak up carbon emissions?

Plants around the world are growing at a slower than expected. Researchers say insufficient nutrients in the soil may be the culprit. A new world nutrient map provides a framework for predicting what areas around the world will be successful carbon sinks in the future. 

 

Pine branches

Fungal diversity and the future of forests

Stanford researchers predict that climate change will reduce the diversity of symbiotic fungi that help trees grow.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Q&A: Making the case for mobile marine protected areas

Ocean sanctuaries whose boundaries can shift can reduce conflicts between humans and marine life and help protect species under climate change.

Firefighter monitors prescribed burn

Setting fires to avoid fires

Despite having proven effective at reducing wildfire risks, prescribed burns have been stymied by perceived and real risks, regulations and resource shortages. A new analysis highlights ways of overcoming those barriers, offering solutions for wildfire-ravaged landscapes.

Man in flood

Pathways to changing the minds of climate deniers

By reviewing the psychology behind climate change rejection, a Stanford researcher suggests four approaches that can sway climate deniers and help overcome obstacles to implementing solutions.

Emissions

Global carbon emissions growth slows, but hits record high

Coal use is down dramatically in the United States and the European Union, and renewable energy is gaining traction. But rising natural gas and oil use in 2019 increased the world’s carbon dioxide emissions modestly for a third straight year.

Farmers in rice paddy

Rice yields plummet and arsenic rises in future climate-soil scenarios

Research combining future climate conditions and arsenic-induced soil stresses predicts rice yields could decline about 40 percent by 2100, a loss that would impact about 2 billion people dependent on the global crop.

 2018 Woolsey fire

Californians unwilling to subsidize wildfire prevention

Despite statewide devastation from wildfires, a new poll conducted by the Bill Lane Center for the American West shows Californians are still reluctant to subsidize wildfire prevention or support relocating communities at risk.

Smoke stack

Study casts doubt on carbon capture

Current approaches to carbon capture can increase air pollution and are not efficient at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, according to research from Mark Z. Jacobson.

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