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Stanford Earth Matters

Bulldozer and firefighters near smoldering wildfire and the roof of a home

Better predictions of wildfire spread may sit above the treetops

Stanford researchers show that understanding the physics of wind currents above forest canopies may help wildfire managers forecast the flight paths of dangerous burning embers.

Smoky New York skyline

Wildfire smoke and air quality

Wildfire smoke from Canadian wildfires is polluting air across much of the northeastern US. Explore Stanford research about wildfire smoke, health impacts, and solutions.


Quantifying mangroves’ value as a climate solution and economic engine

A new approach quantifies the value of mangrove forests in Belize for carbon sequestration, tourism, fisheries, and coastal protection, then uses the values to target conservation and restoration. (Source: Stanford Natural Capital Project)

Aerial view of Del Mar beach with buildings near coast

New approach estimates long-term coastal cliff loss

A new method for estimating cliff loss over thousands of years in Del Mar, California, may help reveal some of the long-term drivers of coastal cliff loss in the state. (Source: Stanford News)

Peace River landscape

Oil-sand wastewater triggered large Alberta earthquake

New research reveals wastewater injected underground by fossil fuel operators caused a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in November 2022 in the Peace River area of Alberta’s oil sands region. This is the first study to link seismicity in the area to human activity. (Source: Stanford News)

Camp fire wildfire

A Burning Issue: Stanford scholar testifies on rising costs of wildfire

Stanford climate and energy policy expert Michael Wara addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget about the economic risks of climate-fueled wildfire. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

burned forest

Zombie forests

Researchers created maps showing where warmer weather has left trees in conditions that don’t suit them, making them more prone to being replaced by other species. The findings could help inform long-term wildfire and ecosystem management in these “zombie forests.” (Source: Stanford News)

    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.

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