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Stanford Earth Matters

Flooding water out of heavy rain clouds in the Californian region.

Whiplash weather: What we can learn from California’s deadly storms

Stanford and local experts discuss ways to mitigate risk to communities and infrastructure amid dramatic swings between flood and drought.

Mother helps daughter wash hands at a kitchen sink

Droughts increase costs for low-income households

According to a recent study, when providers act to curtail water use or invest in new infrastructure because of a drought, bills can rise for low-income households and drop for high-income households. (Source: Stanford News)

A glass of water on a railing with water infrastructure in background

The cleanest drinking water is recycled

New research shows treated wastewater can be more dependable and less toxic than common tap water sources including rivers and groundwater. (Source: Stanford Engineering)

Water stopped by beaver dam with mountains in background

Beavers will become a bigger boon to river water quality as U.S. West warms

American beaver populations are booming in the western United States as conditions grow hotter and drier. New research shows their prolific dam building benefits river water quality so much, it outweighs the damaging influence of climate-driven droughts.

Tree and grass that are green on left side, dry and brown on right side

Plant processes may be key to predicting drought development

Based on new analyses of satellite data, scientists have found that hydrologic conditions that increase flash drought risk occur more often than current models predict. The research also shows that incorporating how plants change soil structures can improve Earth system models.

Wastewater treatment plant

Alexandria Boehm: Wastewater helps reveal COVID’s real reach

Civil and environmental engineer Alexandria Boehm joins Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast to discuss how a new form of epidemiology is using the tools of engineering to test wastewater to track COVID-19’s true spread. (Source: Stanford Engineering)

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.

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