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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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Landscape near water

How the weathering of rocks cooled the Earth

Earth’s climate entered a long phase of cooling 15 million years ago, resulting in an ice age. A team of researchers has now found new indications as to what initiated this cooling and kept it going.

Surface meltwater on Greenland Glacier

Researchers discover more than 50 lakes beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet

Researchers have discovered 56 previously uncharted subglacial lakes beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet, contributing to our understanding of how the ice sheet will likely respond dynamically to rising temperatures.

California coast

Atmospheric rivers getting warmer along U.S. West Coast

New research shows that atmospheric rivers – plumes of moisture that deliver much of the west’s precipitation – have gotten warmer over the past 36 years.

Computer image of Earth's layers

Modeling Earth’s chemistry: Making the invisible visible

Kate Maher discusses how researchers use computer modeling to better understand the chemical reactions in Earth’s subsurface that impact water supplies, energy waste storage, climate change and more.

Hydrothermal

How deep-ocean vents fuel massive phytoplankton blooms

A new study suggests vents in the seafloor may affect life near the ocean’s surface and the global carbon cycle more than previously thought. 

San Francisco Bay

Can a drone reveal the murky secrets of San Francisco Bay?

Measurements of suspended sediment concentrations reveal a lot about the health of a waterway, but until now such data has been difficult to obtain.

Kilauea ash

What can machine learning tell us about the solid Earth?

Scientists are training machine learning algorithms to help shed light on earthquake hazards, volcanic eruptions, groundwater flow and longstanding mysteries about what goes on beneath the Earth’s surface.

Red

Researchers watch shock waves travel through silicon

A new technique involving pulses of ultrafast, high-power lasers has allowed scientists to see how silicon, an abundant element in Earth's crust, changes under intense pressure.

Baiae

Volcanoes, archaeology and the secrets of Roman concrete

Geophysical processes have shaped Pozzuoli, Italy, like few other places in the world. Stanford students applied modern tools to understand those links and what it means to live with natural hazards as both threat and inspiration.

Frozen Lake Michigan

Polar vortex: The science behind the cold

Atmospheric scientist Aditi Sheshadri discusses how the polar vortex works, what drives its behavior and why it seems to bring storms and bitter cold more frequently than in past decades.  

Divers collecting coral sample.

Q&A: Corals reveal patterns in past weather events

A Stanford researcher weighs in on how reconstructing past weather events using coral reefs can help demystify the complex phenomenon known as El Niño.

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.

Catalina Island

What a sinking island can tell us about sea-level change and earthquakes

A new analysis of marine fossils and seismic data offers keys to better modeling of global sea levels and earthquake risk in Southern California – plus the last word in a century-long debate over the motion of Catalina Island.

Sonoran Desert

A path to affordable, effective conservation

A new study supports the long-debated idea that all species – even highly mobile animals – are clustered together in geographically unique areas, and opens a path to better protection of little-known species.

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.

Christchurch

After the Big One: Understanding aftershock risk

Geophysicist Gregory Beroza discusses the culprits behind destructive aftershocks and why scientists are harnessing artificial intelligence to gain new insights into earthquake risks.

Oil field

Cash, carbon, crude: How to make oil fields bury emissions

A new analysis looks at what it would take for oil companies to start pumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide into their wells to boost crude production – and what it would mean for the climate.

Arctic

Finding the pulse of the polar vortex

A new analysis of how air moves between two layers of Earth’s atmosphere reveals a deep system that could enable long-term weather forecasts and better climate models.

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