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Stanford Earth Matters

Stanford Earth Matters covers insights, discoveries, and solutions from the organizations forming the new Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

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Costa Rican naturalist and Stanford research collaborator Dunia Villalobos examines a river in Las Cruces, Costa Rica

Riverfront forest restoration can deliver outsized benefits

Analysis reveals how restoring relatively narrow forest buffers could substantially improve regional water quality and carbon storage in Costa Rica and elsewhere. Such changes could have outsized benefits for vulnerable populations that rely on rivers for their water supply. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

Colorado River, Canyonlands National Park

As Colorado River wanes, water supplies and ecosystems hang in the balance

A study analyzes water transactions that leave water in the river, and shows how they could be scaled up to avert cuts for major water users while supporting imperiled ecosystems. (Source: Water in the West)

A beaver chews on vegetation in a beaver pond

Q&A: Harnessing the power of nature to address water and climate challenges

A Stanford water policy expert discusses how investments in nature could simultaneously help states bolster water supplies and achieve their climate goals. (Source: Stanford News)

raindrops over green field

An AI solution to climate models’ gravity wave problem

Stanford scientists are among a growing number of researchers harnessing artificial intelligence techniques to bring more realistic representations of ubiquitous atmospheric ripples into global climate models

Irrigation canal and wheat field

When will California's San Joaquin Valley stop sinking?

A Stanford University study simulates 65 years of land subsidence, or sinking, caused by groundwater depletion in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The results suggest significant sinking may continue for centuries after water levels stop declining but could slow within a few years if aquifers recover.

Tractor on a paddy field in Mekong Delta, Vietnam - External link

Saving the Mekong River Delta from drowning

Southeast Asia’s most productive agricultural region and home to 17 million people could be mostly underwater within a lifetime. Researchers recommend policy solutions including strict regulation of sediment mining, limits on groundwater pumping, and coordination among countries, development agencies and other private and civil society stakeholders. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

Songdo, Korea (external link)

Building smarter

Analysis presents a first-of-its-kind framework to design the most efficient mix of urban buildings along with integrated systems to supply power and water services. The approach could significantly reduce costs and pollution compared to traditional systems. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

Sierra Nevada range viewed from Mammoth Mountain summit

Snowpack changes how a California volcano 'breathes'

A Stanford University study suggests the weight of snow and ice atop the Sierra Nevada affects a California volcano’s carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main signs of volcanic unrest.

Aerial view of wastewater treatment with video icon

Sewer treasure: Transforming sulfur in wastewater to valuable materials

Promising technologies for converting wastewater into drinkable water produce a chemical compound that can be toxic, corrosive and malodorous. An analysis of one possible solution reveals ways to optimize it for maximum energy efficiency, pollutant removal and resource recovery.

Rio Santiago external link

AI enables strategic hydropower planning across Amazon basin

New research shows how AI can identify proposed hydropower plants that are likely to be particularly detrimental to the environment, and reveals the forgone environmental and energy benefits of uncoordinated dam planning in the Amazon basin. (Source: Natural Capital Project)

Water splash - external link

Profile of purpose: Clear as water

Samuel Appenteng speaks to Grit & Growth about Joissam Ghana, a company that works with local communities to bring clean water to rural areas in West Africa. (Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business)

Editor's picks collage

Editor’s picks: Top 10 stories of 2021

Our list includes a mix of favorites, high-impact stories and some of our most read research coverage from a year of uncertainty, adaptation and discovery.

River restoration

Improve or remove: Funding for U.S. dams

Key ideas and proposals from an agreement between the hydropower industry and environmental community, facilitated through a Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Uncommon Dialogue, have been included in the $1 trillion infrastructure package adopted by the U.S. Senate. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

Lake Oroville

Reasons for hope amid California’s drought

Stanford water experts discuss lessons learned from previous droughts, imperatives for infrastructure investment and pathways for the state to achieve dramatically better conservation and reuse of its most precious resource.

Caldor Fire, August 2021

California Burning: Fire, Drought and Climate Change

Western states are once again in severe drought with water in short supply. And California’s fire season is starting earlier and causing more devastation. Buzz Thompson, one of the country’s leading water law experts, discusses California’s wildfires, drought, water and climate change.

Muskrat on lake ice

Stanford research shows muskrats are a bellwether for a drying delta

Downstream of hydroelectric dams and Alberta’s oil sands, one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas is drying out. New Stanford University research suggests long-term drying is making it harder for muskrats to recover from massive die-offs. It’s a sign of threats to come for many other species.

Recharge pond

Finding the 'sweet spots' for managed aquifer recharge

Rapidly worsening drought and a mandate to bring aquifer withdrawals and deposits into balance by 2040 have ignited interest in replenishing California groundwater through managed aquifer recharge. Stanford scientists demonstrate a new way to assess sites for this type of project using soil measurements and a geophysical system towed by an all-terrain vehicle.

Phytoplankton

Fungus creates a fast track for carbon

New research focused on interactions among microbes in water suggests fungal microparasites play a bigger than expected role in aquatic food webs and the global carbon cycle.

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