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

Bright triangle pattern

Squeezing a rock-star material could make it stable enough for solar cells

A promising lead halide perovskite is great at converting sunlight to electricity, but it breaks down at room temperature. Now scientists have discovered how to stabilize it with pressure from a diamond anvil cell.

Contaminated soil

Pervasive health threats of unregulated battery recycling

A new study in Bangladesh finds that a relatively affordable remediation process can almost entirely remove lead left behind by unregulated battery recycling – and raises troubling questions about how to effectively eliminate the poison from children’s bodies.

Wildfire and smoke

The shifting burden of wildfires in the United States

Wildfire smoke will be one of the most widely felt health impacts of climate change throughout the country, but U.S. clean air regulations are not equipped to deal with it. Stanford experts discuss the causes and impacts of wildfire activity and its rapid acceleration in the American west.

Flooded neighborhood

Climate change has caused billions of dollars in flood damages

Flooding has caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage in the U.S. over the past three decades. Researchers found that 36 percent of the costs of flooding in the U.S. from 1988 to 2017 were a result of intensifying precipitation, consistent with predictions of global warming.

Cobalt

How better mineral exploration makes better batteries

Finding and extracting deposits of cobalt, lithium, nickel and other materials used in batteries is expensive and environmentally fraught. Geoscientists are now using artificial intelligence to quickly identify new resources, get the most out of those we already know about and improve refining processes. 

Carbon simulation

COVID lockdown causes record drop in carbon emissions for 2020

Carbon dioxide emissions from oil, gas and coal this year are predicted to reach approximately 34 billion tons, a 7 percent drop from fossil emission levels in 2019. Emissions from transport account for the largest share of the global decrease.

Editor's picks 2020 banner

Editor's picks: Top 10 stories of 2020

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

Dry Searsville Lake

New study allows regional prediction of uranium in groundwater

Stanford researchers can predict where and when uranium is released into aquifers and suggest an easy fix to keep this naturally occurring toxin from contaminating water sources.

SARS-cov-2

What wastewater can reveal about COVID-19

A new wastewater testing approach capable of better detecting viral infection patterns in communities could prove a crucial step toward an informed public health response to diseases like COVID-19.

Barb fish in river

Community conservation reserves protect fish diversity in tropical rivers

Freshwater ecosystems across the world have experienced rapid species declines compared to ecosystems on land or in the ocean. New research shows that small, community-based reserves in Thailand’s Salween River Basin are serving as critical refuges for fish diversity.

Bats

Lessons for handling COVID-19 from another animal virus

Stanford epidemiologist Stephen Luby discusses surprising results of a recent study on Nipah virus, a disease with no vaccine and a mortality rate of up to 70 percent.

Mask hanging from bicycle handlebar

Which mask works? Researchers find confusion over mask use for wildfire, COVID-19 crises

Drawing from studies on human behavior and responses to past epidemics and wildfire smoke, researchers outline recommendations for communicating correct mask use and suggest areas for further research.

Penguins on ice

Counting penguins with autonomous drones

A new multi-drone imaging system was put to the test in Antarctica. The task? Documenting a colony of roughly 1 million Adélie penguins.

Carbon capture

Roadmap for carbon capture and storage in California

A new study outlines how capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide from power plants, oil refineries and other facilities could help California meet its climate goals.

Earthquake concept

The science behind earthquakes

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts on where and how earthquakes happen, why prediction remains elusive, advances in detection and monitoring, links to human activities, how to prepare for "The Big One," and more.

Health clinic care

Accessible healthcare as climate solution

Making high-quality care accessible to local and Indigenous communities was correlated with a 70 percent reduction of deforestation in an Indonesian national park. By offsetting healthcare costs, the community-designed program reduced incentives for illegal logging.

Tottori skyline

AI detects hidden earthquakes

Tiny movements in Earth’s outermost layer may provide a Rosetta Stone for deciphering the physics and warning signs of big quakes. New algorithms that work a little like human vision are now detecting these long-hidden microquakes in the growing mountain of seismic data.

Indian village school

How extreme heat affects learning

Extremely hot days may directly affect students’ capacity to learn and teachers’ capacity to teach, especially in schools without air conditioning, according to a new study. Worsening climate change is likely to deepen educational inequities.

Thomas Fire, 2017

The science behind the West Coast fires

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts on wildfires' links to climate change, the health impacts of smoke, and promising strategies for preventing huge blazes and mitigating risks.

IconsList of icons used on the sitemaillinkedindouble carrot leftarrow leftdouble carrotplayerinstagramclosecarrotquotefacebooktwitterplusminussearchmenuarrowcloudclock