Stanford University
coral reef

Stanford Earth Matters

Science and insights for people who care about Earth, its resources and its environment

Get Stanford Earth Matters stories delivered to your inbox each month.

Subscribe

About Stanford Earth Matters

Wildfire and smoke

Predicting wildfires with CAT scans

Engineers at Stanford have used X-ray CT scans, more common in hospital labs, to study how wood catches fire. They’ve now turned that knowledge into a computer simulation to predict where fires will strike and spread.

Santa Clara Unit Lightning Complex Fire

Does experiencing wildfires create political consensus on resilience measures?

Though partisanship makes it difficult to enact policy to deal with climate change, research shows that experience with wildfires might diminish the partisan gap.

Mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne disease threat

A warming climate and urbanization will likely lower rates of malaria, while increasing rates of other mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public health strategies must adapt to avoid a public health crisis.

Woodward Fire

Wildfire weather

Unusual lightning strikes sparked the massive wildfires burning across California. Stanford climate and wildfire experts discuss extreme weather’s role in current and future wildfires, as well as ways to combat the trend toward bigger, more intense conflagrations.

Wildfire smoke over Sunnyvale

Wildfires' health impacts

California’s massive wildfires bring a host of health concerns for vulnerable populations, firefighters and others. Stanford researchers discuss related threats, preparedness and ongoing research.

Mixed herd

Evolutionary theory of economic decisions

When survival over generations is the end game, researchers say it makes sense to undervalue long shots that could be profitable and overestimate the likelihood of rare bad outcomes.

Flooded road

Bay Area coastal flooding triggers regionwide commute disruptions

Researchers have modeled how coastal flooding will impact commutes in the Bay Area over the next 20 years. Regions with sparse road networks will have some of the worst commute delays, regardless of their distances from the coast.

Masked farmer

COVID-19 opportunities

Researchers hypothesize outcomes of the pandemic’s unprecedented socioeconomic disruption, and outline research priorities for advancing our understanding of humans’ impact on the environment.

Logging

Q&A: Upscaling sustainability

Stanford scientists discuss obstacles for large-scale green initiatives and what it takes for sustainability efforts to deliver lasting benefits across borders, sectors and communities.

Avalanche

Predicting the unpredictable

Researchers combined avalanche physics with ecosystem data to create a computational method for predicting extreme ecological events. The method may also have applications in economics and politics.

Fukushima decomissioning

Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns released particulates with plutonium

A new study reveals particles that were released from nuclear plants damaged in the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami contained small amounts of radioactive plutonium.

Aerial view of factory emissions

Identifying sources of deadly air pollution in the U.S.

New research finds that air pollution from sources in the U.S. leads to 100,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. While about half of all air pollution-related deaths from fine particulate matter result from burning fossil fuels, the remaining are largely from animal agriculture, dust from construction and roads, and burning wood for heating and cooking.

Waste treatment center

What if waste could be recycled efficiently and profitably?

Research shows how diversifying waste treatment could help alleviate a multitude of global challenges — from environmental sustainability to hunger.

Data center

AI’s carbon footprint problem

Machine learning generates far more carbon emissions than most people realize. A Stanford team has developed a tool to measure the hidden cost.

Delivery drone

Could drones deliver packages more efficiently by hopping on the bus?

A computer science PhD student describes how we might combine the flexibility of drones with the capacity of ground-based vehicles to make e-commerce more traffic-friendly.

Woman wearing mask near traffic

Links between COVID-19 and air pollution

A proposed change to federal regulations would give less consideration to the health benefits of air pollution rules. Mary Prunicki of Stanford’s Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research discusses likely outcomes for poor communities.

Forest

When planting trees threatens the forest

The first-of-its-kind study reveals that subsidies for the planting of commercially valuable tree plantations in Chile resulted in the loss of biologically valuable natural forests and little, if any, additional carbon sequestration.

Wind turbine and shadow

Simulating wind farm development

Engineers have devised a model to describe how, in the process of establishing wind farms, interactions between developers and landowners affect energy production costs.

IconsList of icons used on the sitemaillinkedindouble carrot leftarrow leftdouble carrotplayerinstagramclosecarrotquotefacebooktwitterplusminussearchmenuarrowcloudclock