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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.

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.

Whale in ocean.

Melting ice: Fleeting ecological advantage, sustained threat

As glaciers melt, nutrients they contain run into the ocean and fertilize local algal blooms. Although these food oases feed local animals, they don’t make up for global challenges produced by melting ice sheets.

Goat

How Neolithic man adapted to climate change

New research shows early farmers in southern Anatolia, Turkey turned to drought-resistant sheep and goats during a well-documented climate shift 8,200 years ago.

Bighorn sheep

How would a border wall affect wildlife?

Federal plans to complete a continuous wall along the U.S.-Mexico boundary would threaten the existence of numerous plant and animal species. Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo look at the region’s unique natural ecosystems, and what they have to lose.

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.

brown algae

Overlooked process in bacteria may shed light on ancient environments

Geologists assume when they find molecules called sterols in soils or rocks they indicate the presence of plants, animals or fungi in ancient environments. But discovering how some bacteria also produce and modify sterols could change those interpretations.

Mammoth tooth fossil

When did humans start influencing biodiversity? Earlier than we thought

Fossil study finds early human activity — not climate shifts — led to the decline of large animals before the first human migrations out of Africa. The findings add to concerns about continued biodiversity loss.

Belcher ice bridge

Scientists discover first subglacial lakes in Canadian Arctic

Super salty water beneath ice may be analogue for habitat for life on other planets

Mother and baby sperm whales

Stanford researchers learn why aquatic mammals need to be big, but not too big

Examining body sizes of ancient and modern aquatic mammals and their terrestrial counterparts reveals that life in water restricts mammals to a narrow range of body sizes – big enough to stay warm, but not so big they can’t find enough food.

Great Salt Lake, Utah

Extinct Lakes of the American West

Extinct lake landforms provide clues of climate change over millions of years and inform our understanding of rainfall patterns and water management in the arid American West.

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. 

ancient dragonfly fossil

Insects took off when they evolved wings

Now buzzing and whizzing around every continent, insects were mysteriously scarce in the fossil record until 325 million years ago – when they first took flight and, according to a new study, evolutionarily took off.

Molten Lava

Puzzle at the center of the Earth

Mysterious patches on the planet’s core that dampen seismic waves could be the result of ancient seawater chemically reacting with iron under extreme conditions.

Man overlooking Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Scientists make first observations of how a meteor-like shock turns silica into glass

Research with SLAC’s X-ray laser simulates what happens when a meteor hits Earth’s crust. The results suggest that scientists studying impact sites have been overestimating the sizes of the meteors that made them.

Giraffes in front of sunset.

Diversity of large animals plays an important role in carbon cycle

With abundant data on plants, large animals and their activity, and carbon soil levels in the Amazon, Stanford research suggests that large animal diversity influences carbon stocks and contributes to climate change mitigation.

Ocean floor

Radiated corals of Bikini Atoll may hold insights on cancer

Stanford researchers are exploring how corals that re-colonized Bikini Atoll after nuclear bomb tests 70 years ago have adapted to persistent radiation. Their work is featured in a PBS series.

mosquito

What a warming planet means for mosquito-borne diseases

A new analysis by Stanford researchers reveals that the ideal temperature for the spread of mosquito-born diseases like dengue, chikungunya and Zika is 29 degrees C. This finding helps predict disease outbreaks in a warming world.

microorganism graphic

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.

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