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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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Flood

Double-whammy weather

Like an undulating seesaw, weather in some regions swings from drought to heavy rain under the weight of climate-induced changes, a new study finds.

Less water could sustain more Californians if we make every drop count

As climate change and population growth make drinking water costlier, here are six strategies to quench the state’s thirst without busting its budget.

SARS-CoV-2

Understanding spread of COVID-19

Much remains unknown about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through the environment. Environmental engineers describe potential transmission pathways and their implications.

Broken pipe with water spraying

A better way to detect underground water leaks

Stanford researchers propose a new way to locate water leaks within the tangle of aging pipes found beneath many cities. The improvement could save time, money and billions of gallons of water.

Hoover Dam

Hydropower dams threaten fish habitats worldwide

New research maps the impacts of past and future hydropower development on fish habitats – and points to where restoration efforts may do the most good.

Rusty iron rebar

Rust offers a cheap way to filter arsenic-poisoned water

In regions that lack the resources to treat the contaminated water, it can lead to disease, cancer and even death.

Water flowing from eroded spillway of dam

More rain and less snow means increased flood risk

By analyzing more than two decades of data in the western U.S., scientists have shown that flood sizes increase exponentially as a higher fraction of precipitation falls as rain, offering insight into how flood risks may change in a warming world with less snow.

River and tree

Q&A: How wildfires threaten water quality

Stanford hydrologist Newsha Ajami, an appointee to California’s regional water quality board, discusses how wildfires affect water quality, and how we can better prepare for and react to the challenges.

Water

Q&A: Developing new sources for usable water

A five-year project led by a Stanford professor will research and develop cost-competitive and energy-efficient technologies to desalinate nontraditional water sources for diverse end uses from agriculture to municipal drinking water.

Water

Making California’s water supply resilient

Stanford researchers examine effective strategies to rising water scarcity concerns in the context of climate change.

water drop

Stanford researchers find smart faucets could aid in water conservation

An experiment with a water-saving “smart” faucet shows potential for reducing water use. The catch? Unbeknownst to study participants, the faucet’s smarts came from its human controller.

Recharge

Can California better use winter storms to refill its aquifers?

With new rules for groundwater management coming into effect, engineers are looking to harness an unconventional and unwieldy source of water: the torrential storms that sometimes soak California.

Dry landscape

Domino droughts: How droughts travel across continents

New research finds one drought can amplify or trigger another. Decreased moisture recycling and transport impacts how droughts form and move across continents.

Reservoir

Toward safe and reliable drinking water for all Californians

Stanford scientists and water experts discuss how California can secure a safe and reliable water supply.

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.

Water

Understanding saltwater intrusion through remote sensing

New research provides insight on a common cause of drinking water contamination in coastal areas: intrusion of ocean saltwater into freshwater aquifers.

Tulare

Where will flooded fields best replenish groundwater?

Overpumping in California has depleted groundwater storage capacity and caused the land to sink. A new model could help water managers zero in on where to replenish aquifers by flooding fields.

Chickens

Big livestock operations can be big polluters. But where are they?

An algorithm that reads satellite images can help environmental regulators identify potentially hazardous agricultural facilities more efficiently than traditional approaches.

Jordan

The effects of climate change on water shortages

If global temperatures continue to rise, rainfall will increasingly become a beast of extremes. As a way of exploring the future risk of water shortage in a complex environment, scientists have made a case study of Jordan, one of the most water-poor nations in the world.

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