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Stanford Earth Matters

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Barb fish in river

Community conservation reserves protect fish diversity in tropical rivers

Freshwater ecosystems across the world have experienced rapid species declines compared to ecosystems on land or in the ocean. New research shows that small, community-based reserves in Thailand’s Salween River Basin are serving as critical refuges for fish diversity.

Food

Reducing global food system emissions key to meeting climate goals

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from food systems will be vital for reaching climate goals – and it will require coordinated action across sectors and between national governments, according to new research. 

Corn

U.S. corn crop increasingly sensitive to drought

New management approaches and technology have allowed the U.S. Corn Belt to increase yields despite some changes in climate. However, soil sensitivity to drought has increased significantly, according to a new study that could help identify ways to reverse the trend.

Manure truck

Why laughing gas is a growing climate problem

Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” is the most important greenhouse gas after methane and carbon dioxide and the biggest human-related threat to the ozone layer. Now, emissions of the gas are rising faster than expected.

Mackerel school

More food from the sea by 2050

If sustainably managed, wild fisheries and mariculture could help meet the rising demand for food in the long term.

Sliced sugarcane

Exploring the sustainability of the Indian sugar industry

Researchers analyzed the interconnected food, water and energy challenges that arise from the sugar industry in India – the second-largest producer of sugar worldwide – and how the political economy drives those challenges.

Logging

Q&A: Upscaling sustainability

Stanford scientists discuss obstacles for large-scale green initiatives and what it takes for sustainability efforts to deliver lasting benefits across borders, sectors and communities.

Global methane

Global methane emissions soar to record high

The pandemic has tugged carbon emissions down, temporarily. But levels of the powerful heat-trapping gas methane continue to climb, dragging the world further away from a path that skirts the worst effects of global warming.

Fish in sea

Finding food security underwater

Our growing need for food poses one of the biggest threats to the environment. Stanford ocean and food security experts explain how the ocean could produce dramatically more food while driving sustainable economic growth.

Plants

Predicting plant water needs in a warmer, drier world

New research suggests dry air and warmer temperatures may prompt bigger than expected changes in how water moves through plants. The adjustment may allow plants to survive with less water in future droughts, while downshifting how much carbon they absorb.

Bumblee bee

Staying off the murder hornet list

Experts from the Stanford-based Natural Capital Project explain the value of wild bees in our agricultural systems, especially in light of the increased risk murder hornets pose to domesticated honey bees.

Tractor

COVID-19 could exacerbate food insecurity around the world

COVID-19 and other looming threats could make it much harder for people to access food. David Lobell, director of Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, outlines likely scenarios and possible solutions.

Olive baboon

How forest loss leads to spread of disease

Viruses that jump from animals to people, like the one responsible for COVID-19, will likely become more common as people continue to transform natural habitats into agricultural land, a new study suggests.

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.

2019 text

Editor's picks: Top 10 Stanford Earth Matters stories of 2019

In a roundup that spans energy, geology, geophysics and Earth systems, here are some of the most interesting, high-impact and popular research stories from 2019.

Corn plants

Reduced soil tilling helps both soils and yields

By monitoring crops through machine learning and satellite data, Stanford scientists have found farms that till the soil less can increase yields of corn and soybeans and improve the health of the soil – a win-win for global food security.

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.

Wheat field

How can microsatellite data impact agricultural interventions?

New research finds small satellites can help increase food production in a low-cost and sustainable way.

Turmeric

Finding lead in turmeric

Some spice processors in Bangladesh use an industrial lead chromate pigment to imbue turmeric with a bright yellow color prized for curries and other traditional dishes, elevating blood lead levels in Bangladeshis.

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