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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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Earth

Regions increasingly suffer hot, dry conditions at the same time

Odds are rising that warm, dry conditions – the kind that can hurt crop yields, destabilize food prices and exacerbate wildfires – will strike multiple regions at once. A new Stanford study shows just how much the risk is increasing.

Field

As California's groundwater free-for-all ends, gauging what's left

New rules and new technology are giving farmers and managers a better look at groundwater supplies.

Grevy's zebra

Home on the range: Integrating wildlife and livestock

A study of more than 800,000 acres of privately owned land in Kenya suggests that humans and their livestock can, in the right circumstances, share territory with zebras, giraffes, elephants and other wild mammals – to the benefit of all.

Suburban fire

Q&A: How does climate change affect human health?

Stanford experts discuss the linkages between climate change and health, an area that will be a focus of Stanford-led events at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Wheat farming

Climate change projected to boost insect activity and crop loss

A new study co-authored by Earth System Science professor Rosamond Naylor projects insect pest damage to crops will rise sharply as temperatures continue to climb.

Drinking water

Natural chromium sources threaten California groundwater

A study shows natural sources of hexavalent chromium are affecting more people and wells in California than industrial sources. But groundwater pumping may accelerate release of this carcinogen.

Strawberries

Strawberry fields forever? Baja turning to seawater to grow lucrative crop

In an arid region south of Tijuana, strawberries grown for export have become so valuable, farmers keep trying to grow more, and are allowed to use more groundwater than nature replenishes.

Yunnan Province

Overuse of fertilizers and pesticides in China linked to farm size

A new study finds chemicals are often used inefficiently on small farms in China. Land and migration policies may help explain why the country uses 30 percent of the world's fertilizers and pesticides on 9 percent of global cropland.

Corn stalks

Warmer climate will dramatically increase the volatility of global corn crops

A new study co-authored by Earth System Science professor Rosamond Naylor looks at what climate change will mean for global yields of corn, or maize, the most widely grown crop in the world. The study shows dramatic increases in the variability of annual corn yields, which could lead to price hikes and global shortages. 

Groundwater

Arsenic unlocked: Overpumping may up contamination risk

Pumping an aquifer to the last drop squeezes out more than water. A new study suggests it can also unlock dangerous arsenic from buried clays. Sinking land may provide an early warning and measure of contamination.

Stack of cut logs in front of forest.

Getting to Zero Deforestation

A synthesis paper led by Eric Lambin reveals the strengths and weaknesses of corporate environmental pledges, and prescribes solutions to boost effectiveness.

Leafy green vegetables in a growing facility.

Grocery store program improves farmers’ adoption of environmental practices

In one of the first analyses of a company-led sustainability program in the food and agriculture space, Stanford researchers found a major grocery chain fostered increased adoption of environmental practices at the farm level.

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.

Greg Beroza showing off earthquake data.

21st-century Earth science is computer intensive and data driven

If asked to imagine a geologist, you might envision a tanned and dusty figure, hardy and weathered like the ancient rocks that he or she spends days studying out “in the field."

farm tractor

Soil holds potential to slow global warming

The land under our feet and the plant matter it contains could offset a significant amount of carbon emissions if managed properly.

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.

Oil palms at an oil palm nursery and research facility in Cameroon.

Exploring risks of deforestation as agriculture expands in Africa

Multinational companies are increasingly looking to Africa to expand production of in-demand commodity crops such as soy and oil palm. A first-of-its-kind study highlights the real and potential impacts on the continent’s valuable tropical forests.

Mapping the Corn Belt with satellites

Research by Stanford Earth's David Lobell and George Azzari shows how better mapping of farm fields with satellites can lead to new ways to measure and boost crop yields.
 

Grasslands

U.S. grasslands affected more by atmospheric dryness than precipitation

According to 33 years of remote sensing data, productivity of U.S. grasslands is more sensitive to dryness of the atmosphere than precipitation, important information for understanding how ecosystems will respond to climate change.

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