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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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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’s Central Valley has depleted groundwater storage capacity and caused the land to sink. A new model based on remote sensing data could help zero in on where water managers can 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.

Vegetation

Know Your Planet: How do plants affect weather?

A major component of climate change unknowns stems from interactions between changes in climate and changes in ecosystems. Stanford hydrologist Alexandra Konings explains how plants shape weather patterns and influence climate.

Van Arsdale

As relicensing looms, aging dams face a reckoning

Green power source or fish killer? As older dams around the West come up for relicensing, their owners know that they’ll have to spend heavily to fix problems, while new energy sources are getting cheaper.

Jamaica Bay

Can we recover valuable chemicals from sewage?

A chemical engineer wants to make the term ‘wastewater’ obsolete by extracting usable chemicals to create fertilizers, disinfectants and more.

Clarksburg

Downsizing the Delta tunnel plan: What it means for water and ecosystems

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a plan to downsize a project aimed at diverting water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Central Valley and Southern California. Stanford experts discuss likely impacts.

Folsom Dam

Droughts boost emissions as hydropower dries up

Recent droughts caused increases in emissions from power generation in several western states as fossil fuels came online to replace hampered hydroelectric power. A new study quantifies the impact.

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.

River

Coping with water demands in an era of scarcity

​In addition to reusing water, we'll have to augment the supply from reservoirs with recycling, stormwater capture, desalination and other strategies.

Pig waste

How machine learning can aid environmental monitoring

Cash-strapped environmental regulators have a powerful and cheap new weapon. New research suggests machine learning methods more than double the number of violations detected.

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.

Plastic straws

Do plastic straws really make a difference?

Driven by public pressure, governments and corporations are considering eliminating or phasing out single-use plastics such as straws. Stanford experts discuss the limitations of these bans and the potential for meaningful change.

Coachella Valley

Who owns the aquifer?

A Stanford study reveals the changing scope of Native American groundwater rights – and opportunities for better freshwater management.

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.

Dunes

Purifier creates disinfectant from water and sunlight

The system could one day be adapted into solar-powered water purification stations for use in developing regions where fresh water is a precious commodity.

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.

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