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Stanford Earth Matters

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

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.

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.

Steel industry in Benxi, China.

After years of nearly flat growth, global fossil fuel emissions are inching up

An international research team reports that the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels has resumed after a 3-year respite and may increase again next year. Despite the findings, improved energy efficiency and a booming renewables market provide signs of hope.

Secretary Kerry Addresses Delegates Before Signing the COP21 Climate Change Agreement on Earth Day in New York.

Best-case scenario for international climate talks

Stanford researchers, including some who helped provide scientific information underlying the Paris climate accord, discuss their hopes for the current talks at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

rising sea levels illustration

​Jenny Suckale: A Better Plan B for Managing Disasters

Stanford’s Russ Altman and Jenny Suckale explore how society can better prepare for a future with more frequent and more dangerous storms.
Thermometer

Q&A with Stanford experts on the president’s Paris climate agreement decision

The president announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Four Stanford scholars discuss the implications of this decision.

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Ice flow

Greenland’s summer ocean bloom likely fueled by iron

Iron-rich meltwater from Greenland’s glaciers are helping fuel a summer bloom of phytoplankton.

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.

flying drone

Introducing the Mobile Monitoring Challenge

The competition will provide a level and controlled playing field for testing remote technologies to monitor methane leaks from the oil and gas industry.

California waterway

Visualizing California’s drought

A new web portal puts four years of California drought data into an interactive format, showing where regions met or missed water conservation goals. The idea is to motivate awareness and conservation.

 Wadi Rum desert

Jordan faces more frequent long and severe droughts

A new analysis of regional drought and land-use changes in Syria suggests water conditions in downstream Jordan could get significantly worse.

oilfield at dusk

Climate impacts of super-giant oilfields go up with age

Neglecting the changing energy requirements of aging oilfields can lead to an underestimate of their true climate impacts.

Lake Okeechobee

Projected precipitation increases are bad news for water quality

Excess nutrient pollution to U.S. waterways increases the likelihood of events that severely impair water quality. 

How vegetation alters climate

Researchers find strong feedbacks between the atmosphere and vegetation that explain up to 30 percent of precipitation and surface radiation variance; study reveals large potential for improving seasonal weather predictions.

Rainforest

Carbon removal from the atmosphere won't be easy

Stanford scientists explain the risks of betting the world’s future on massive-scale deployment of carbon removal technologies.

Organic carbon can resist breakdown in underground environments

A new study reveals that organic matter whose breakdown would yield only minimal energy for hungry microorganisms preferentially builds up in floodplains, illuminating a new mechanism of carbon sequestration.

floodwaters beneath a bridge

When bridges collapse

Studying how and why bridges have collapsed in the past identifies the limitation of current risk assessment approach and demonstrates the value of new perspectives on climate change impact.

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