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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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Traffic on the Oakland Bridge

Coastal flooding increases Bay Area traffic delays and accidents

Disruptions from sea level rise and coastal flooding events have significant indirect impacts on urban traffic networks and road safety.

Homes in Nicaragua flooded by Hurricane Eta

How does climate change affect migration?

April 2021 saw a 20-year high in the number of people stopped at the U.S./Mexico border, and President Joe Biden recently raised the cap on annual refugee admissions. Stanford researchers discuss how climate change’s effect on migration will change, how we can prepare for the impacts and what kind of policies could help alleviate the issue.

Coring and geophysical well-logging operation in Texas

Local impacts from fracking the Eagle Ford

Stanford scientists simulated the local risk of damaging or nuisance-level shaking caused by hydraulic fracturing across the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. The results could inform a new approach to managing human-caused earthquakes.

Flooding south of Houston in September in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (Credit Barbara Davidson for The New York Times)

Homes in floodplains are overvalued by nearly $44 billion

Analysis of sales data and flood risk data over two decades indicates that housing markets fail to fully account for information about flood risk. The findings suggest that policies to improve risk communication could influence market outcomes.

Cracked concrete

'DeepShake' predicts earthquake shaking intensity with AI

A deep neural network developed at Stanford and trained on more than 36,000 earthquakes offers a new way to quickly predict earthquake shaking intensity and issue early warnings of strong shaking.

Person removing asbestos from building

U.S. asbestos sites made risky by some remediation strategies

Efforts to prevent human exposure to asbestos may be mobilizing the cancer-causing mineral so that it can reach water supplies, based on new findings about how the fibers move through soil.

Environmental issues collage

Understanding Biden's environmental challenges and actions

The Biden administration’s ambitious plans for environmental progress face complex obstacles. The findings, expertise and policy experience of Stanford researchers working across multiple fields could help contribute to sustainable, cost-effective solutions. 

Fukushima damage

Lessons from the Fukushima disaster 10 years later

A decade after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan, Stanford experts discuss revelations about radiation from the disaster, advances in earthquake science related to the event and how its devastating impact has influenced strategies for tsunami defense and local warning systems.

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.

Kilauea lava fountain

Crystals may help reveal hidden Kilauea Volcano behavior

Stanford researchers used millimeter-sized crystals from the 1959 eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano to test models that offer insights about flow conditions prior to and during an eruption.

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.

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.

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.

Northern California coast

Newly identified 'landfalling droughts' originate over ocean

Researchers have identified a new type of “landfalling drought” that originates over the ocean before traveling onto land, and which can cause larger, drier conditions than other droughts.

Cracked road

How earthquake swarms arise

A new fault simulator maps out how interactions between pressure, friction and fluids rising through a fault zone can lead to slow-motion quakes and seismic swarms.

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.

Tibetan Plateau

Seismic data explains continental collision beneath Tibet

New imagery reveals the causes of seismic activity deep beneath the Himalaya region, contributing to an ongoing debate over the continental collision process when two tectonic plates crash into each other.

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.

2019 Webby Award Nominee

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