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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

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.

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.

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