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Stanford Earth Matters

Stanford Earth Matters covers insights, discoveries, and solutions from the organizations forming the new Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

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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.

Almeda Fire damage

Researchers identify 'double-hazard' zones for wildfire in the West

Rapidly growing communities in the American West’s forests and shrublands are nestled in zones where local soil and plant traits amplify the effect of climate change on wildfire hazards and lead to bigger burns.

Weather collage

Climate of chaos: Why warming makes weather less predictable

A Stanford University study shows chaos reigns earlier in midlatitude weather models as temperatures rise. The result? Climate change could be shifting the limits of weather predictability and pushing reliable 10-day forecasts out of reach.

Charred forest

Trees on the move: How wildfire accelerates forest changes

As climate conditions change, tree species are shifting their ranges. Wildfire is accelerating this process, likely by reducing competition from established species – a finding that raises questions about how to manage land in an era of shifting ecosystems.

Map labeled with damaged and undamaged buildings

AI system identifies buildings damaged by wildfire

A deep learning approach to classifying buildings with wildfire damage may help responders focus their recovery efforts and offer more immediate information to displaced residents.

Supercell storm

Scientists solve mystery of supercell storms' icy plumes

The most devastating tornadoes are often preceded by a cloudy plume of ice and water vapor billowing above a severe thunderstorm. New research reveals the mechanism for these plumes could be tied to “hydraulic jumps” – a phenomenon Leonardo Da Vinci observed more than 500 years ago.

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