Stanford University
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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.

Mount Bromo

What’s Earth cooking? Stanford’s Ayla Pamukçu wants to know

As a young adult, Ayla Pamukçu found herself at a crossroads between college and culinary school. Thanks in part to an influential box of rocks, she chose a research path that eventually led to a career studying the inner workings of the Earth. (Source: Stanford News)

A wildfire burns at night on a hillside near a neighborhood.

Building resilience in the era of megafire

Climate change and decades of fire suppression have fueled increasingly destructive wildfires across the western U.S. and Canada. Stanford scholars and wildfire experts outline how a path forward requires responsive management, risk reduction, and Indigenous stewardship.

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.

Bald cypress swamp

Coastal cathedrals

Years after Hurricane Katrina altered his life’s course, Elliott White Jr. set out to understand what drives coastal wetland loss as a way to help lessen harm from future climate impacts for vulnerable coastal communities. (Source: Stanford News)

Young students sit at a table with a teacher in a classroom near sunlit windows

Wildfire smoke exposure hurts learning outcomes

Pollution from wildfires is linked to lower test scores and possibly lower future earnings for kids growing up with more smoke days at school, a new study finds. Impacts of smoke exposure on earnings are disproportionately borne by economically disadvantaged communities of color.

A fire crew conducts a prescribed burn in California’s Lassen National Forest.

Empowering private landowners to prevent wildfires

Controlled burning has proven effective at reducing wildfire risks, but a lack of insurance has dissuaded private landowners from implementing the practice. Policy expert Michael Wara discusses soon-to-be-enacted legislation that would pay for fire damages to neighboring properties in California. (Source: Stanford News)

Yellow wildfire smoke pollution over a residential neighborhood

Wildfire smoke is unraveling decades of air quality gains

Stanford researchers have developed an AI model for predicting dangerous particle pollution to help track the American West’s rapidly worsening wildfire smoke. The detailed results show millions of Americans are routinely exposed to pollution at levels rarely seen just a decade ago.

Cars are partially submerged in brown floodwaters on a residential street in New Brunswick, NJ

Stanford researchers discuss equity in storm planning and response

Hurricanes and severe storms exacerbate inequalities. Ahead of a Sept. 21 webinar on the subject, Stanford experts discussed how to ensure equity in planning and response for such extreme weather events, economic benefits of nature-based storm defenses, and related issues. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

Glacier next to ocean

Are we missing a crucial component of sea-level rise?

Across Antarctica, some parts of the base of the ice sheet are frozen, while others are thawed. Scientists show that if some currently frozen areas were also to thaw, it could increase ice loss from glaciers that are not currently major sea-level contributors.

Photographer near Fagradalsfjall volcano in 2021

Four questions for Paul Segall on the Iceland volcano

Stanford geophysicist Paul Segall discusses the Fagradalsfjall volcano currently erupting 20 miles southwest of Reykjavík, Iceland. (Source: Stanford News)

Parent and child on couch in background, with air purifier in foreground

U.S. isn’t ready for the next wildfire smoke wave. Here’s what needs to change

Most government policies for mitigating public health risks from wildfire smoke aim to educate citizens to protect themselves by staying indoors, closing windows, and using air filters. Stanford research shows why that approach fails for Americans across all income groups and points to solutions.

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

Yellowstone river - external link

Four questions for Liz Hadly

The Stanford environmental biologist and global change specialist discusses recent flooding in Yellowstone National Park – and what it means for the future of the planet. (Source: Stanford News)

road with earthquake damage - external link

Data is transforming our understanding of natural disasters

In this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything, geophysicist Eric Dunham details how new types of data collection and faster computers are helping our knowledge of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes – and how to prepare for them. (Source: Stanford Engineering)

West Texas oil activity

Earthquakes from oil field wastewater

Underground disposal of wastewater from fossil fuel production in the nation’s largest oil field is causing long-dormant faults to slip in a way that could damage wells, according to new analyses of satellite and seismicity data.

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.

Dharavi, India at sunset (external link)

A data-driven approach to cooling

A civil engineer is finding ways to model informal settlements in tropical regions, and using these models to help find universal solutions for extreme heat. (Source: Stanford Engineering)

Hurricane Ike damage

Personal experience and disaster adaptation

Surveys of people exposed to wildfires and hurricanes show that negative experiences with these events are associated with elevated perceived risk for specific climate hazards and self-reported adaptation behaviors, as well as increased support for interventions. The findings could help shape public communications and policy.

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