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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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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.

Infrastructure

Understanding environmental rollback

In a Q&A, environmental law Professor Deborah Sivas discusses a recent executive order that empowers federal agencies to override legal requirements for environmental reviews and community feedback related to major infrastructure projects.

Pumpjack

Living near oil and gas wells may increase preterm birth risk

New research shows living near oil and gas development in California is a risk factor for preterm birth, the leading cause of infant death in the United States. About 2.1 million Californians live within one mile of an active oil or gas well.

Yangtze River

Accounting for nature in economies

Gross Domestic Product, the standard metric for measuring national economies, doesn’t account for the valuable services provided by nature. A new approach could help fill the gap.

Close-up of plants in soil

Human waste treatment helps solve climate change puzzle

New research shows composting human waste produces an effective fertilizer for agriculture while increasing safety, sustainability and jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste-borne illnesses.

Village

Using satellites and AI to help fight poverty in Africa

A new tool combines publicly accessible satellite imagery with AI to track poverty across African villages over time.

Fire

Tracking the tinderbox: Mapping dry wildfire fuels with AI and new satellite data

Researchers have developed a deep-learning model that maps fuel moisture levels in fine detail across 12 western states, opening a door for better fire predictions.

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