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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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About Stanford Earth Matters magazine

2018

Editor's picks: Top 10 stories of 2018

From revelations about the hidden messages in burbling lakes of lava to the staggering costs of runaway climate change, these 10 stories shed light on our planet and how we're changing it. They include our editor's picks and some our best-read stories for the year.

Seismograph

Data helps us prepare for 'The Big One'

Data is reshaping our knowledge about many things, including earthquakes: how we measure them, what causes them and how we can better prepare for them.

Wildfire smoke

Wildfires destroying California bring questions about health and climate

California’s wildfires have destroyed homes and communities, and even people hundreds of miles away are feeling the effects of smoke. Stanford faculty weigh in on the health effects and increasing frequency of fires.

San Francisco

How will San Francisco's skyscrapers fare after the next Big One?

Stanford civil engineers are working with the city to assess high-rise safety and mitigate any disruption, downtime or lost economic activity should downtown buildings be damaged. 

Oil pump

Researchers map susceptibility to man-made earthquakes

Stanford geophysicists forecast a decline in potentially damaging earthquakes from wastewater injection in Oklahoma and Kansas through 2020.

Christchurch

After the Big One: Understanding aftershock risk

Geophysicist Gregory Beroza discusses the culprits behind destructive aftershocks and why scientists are harnessing artificial intelligence to gain new insights into earthquake risks.

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence: The science behind the storm

Atmospheric scientist Morgan O’Neill discusses what’s driving Florence, why it’s unusual, and how it could be connected to climate change and other storms brewing in the Atlantic.   

Suburban fire

Q&A: How does climate change affect human health?

Stanford experts discuss the linkages between climate change and health, an area that will be a focus of Stanford-led events at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Destroyed beach home.

Transparency may improve U.S. home buyout programs

New research finds government buyouts of homes in floodplains have often lacked transparency. This could deter residents from participating in managed retreat, one of the main strategies for adapting to areas becoming more flood-prone, Stanford researcher suggests.

Snake

Drought predictive of decrease in snakebites

Rattlesnake bites, contrary to public opinion, increase after periods of high rainfall, not drought, according to a Stanford-led study that examined 20 years of snakebite history in California.

Drinking water

Natural chromium sources threaten California groundwater

A study shows natural sources of hexavalent chromium are affecting more people and wells in California than industrial sources. But groundwater pumping may accelerate release of this carcinogen.

Arctic

Finding the pulse of the polar vortex

A new analysis of how air moves between two layers of Earth’s atmosphere reveals a deep system that could enable long-term weather forecasts and better climate models.

Mount Sinabung

Learning through sound

The audible world contains vast amounts of information about the world around us. Scholars from across Stanford are exploring this invisible landscape as a research tool and as a way of understanding each other.

Port Arthur

Bracing for sea level rise to boost national security

Storm season is upon us, the federal flood insurance plan is broken and sea level rise continues unabated. Stanford climate and policy experts Alice Hill and Katharine Mach look at issues related to rising seas with an eye toward increasing resilience and security.

Fuego Volcano

Beyond lava and ash: What makes volcanoes dangerous?

Recent eruptions offer reminders that lava, ash and size don’t fully explain how volcanoes become deadly. Geologists Gail Mahood and Donald Lowe describe some of the science and mysteries behind volcanic hazards. 

Cracked earth

Study casts doubt on the predictive value of earthquake foreshocks

Do tiny underground tremors provide clues that a big earthquake is coming? A new study suggests foreshocks are just like other small quakes, not helpful warning signs as previously thought.

East Rift Zone

Geothermal at the foot of Kilauea

Geothermal engineer Roland Horne discusses geothermal energy in the face of natural hazards and a way to tap the earth’s heat far from volcanoes in the future.

Lava lake

Understanding Kilauea: A different flavor of volcano

Geophysicist and volcanologist Paul Segall describes Hawaii's most active volcano and the science behind the latest eruptions.

Summit of Villarica volcano

Stanford scientists eavesdrop on volcanic rumblings to forecast eruptions

Sound waves generated by burbling lakes of lava atop some volcanoes point to greater odds of magmatic outbursts. This finding could provide advance warning to people who live near active volcanoes.

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