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Stanford Earth Matters

Birds-eye view of a Hawaiian island

What can Pacific island cultures teach us about sustainability?

Island geography, genealogy, kinship, and other cultural and environmental factors influenced early Pacific island societies to develop sustainable practices. How can we apply these lessons to climate and sustainability issues today?

A rocky headland extends into the blue waters off the California coast. A wave breaks in the foreground.

‘Two-Eyed Seeing’ off the California coast

A new research partnership will combine Indigenous and scientific knowledge to monitor marine life in a sacred tribal region that may be a bellwether of how native species will fare in the face of climate change.

Energy production and pipelines on Alaska's North Slope in winter at night

Q&A: Willow oil project and Arctic drilling limits

Stanford experts explain why the recently approved Willow oil drilling project in Alaska has sparked controversy, discuss the significance of new limits on oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, and describe the complicated nature of energy transformation in the fastest-warming place on Earth.

An aerial perspective of two minke whales swimming side by side

Why whales need to be big

Scientists studied a unique group of Antarctic minke whales and found that these gigantic mammals actually represent the smallest possible body size required for their style of feeding. (Source: Stanford News)

A fish stall with products in boxes and a person standing in the background

Aquatic food benefits

Leveraging blue foods can help policymakers address multiple global challenges, a new analysis shows. (Source: Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions)

Fin whales and two trawlers intermix in blue ocean

Trawlers intermix with whale ‘supergroup’ in Southern Ocean

Scientists observed close to 1,000 fin whales foraging near Antarctica, while fishing vessels trawled for krill in their midst. Without action, such encounters are likely to become more common as this endangered species recovers and krill harvesting intensifies in the Southern Ocean. (Source: Stanford News)

People in protective suits clean up oil from a shoreline in Mauritius

Oil spills and coastal resilience

Two Stanford scientists found hope and lessons for improving disaster response after oil spills hit close to home.

Coral with sunlight

You're stuck with your same old genome, but corals aren't

A new study of tropical reef building corals shows these very long-lived animals are constantly changing and testing their genes – and some of these changes make it into the next generation. In this way a centuries-old coral might be a cauldron of genetic innovation, and it might help prepare them for climate change. (Source: Hopkins Marine Station)

Humpback whales lunge feed in Monterey Bay

Whales eat colossal amounts of microplastics

Analysis of ocean plastic pollution and whale foraging behavior tracked with noninvasive tags shows whales are ingesting tiny specks of plastic in far bigger quantities than previously thought, and nearly all of it comes from the animals they eat – not the water they gulp. (Source: Stanford News)

Aquaculture seen in blue water from above

Managing aquaculture for human and planetary health

With demand for fish on the rise, Stanford food security expert Roz Naylor offers a perspective calling attention to the need for greater oversight of growing antimicrobial use that impacts the health of fish, ecosystems, and humans. (Source: Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health)

Scientists in a boat tag a tiger shark in turquoise water

Scientists take a deep dive into how sharks use the ocean

Researchers compiled the largest set of biologging data revealing how 38 species of sharks, rays, and skates move vertically in oceans around the world. (Source: Stanford News)

Sea turtle

Bioindicators for monitoring plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean

Key marine species can serve as bioindicators to measure how much plastic exists in different ocean regions. (Source: Stanford News)

Aerial view of coastal mobile home park in Pacifica, Calif.

Researchers reveal add-on benefits of natural defenses against sea-level rise

Researchers modeled how investing in environmental conservation and protection can help San Mateo County adapt to rising seas. The findings provide incentives for policymakers to prioritize nature-based approaches when planning for sea-level rise.

Coral with sunlight

Understanding how sunscreens damage coral

Stanford researchers reveal a mechanism by which oxybenzone, a common sunscreen component, may damage reefs. The surprising findings could help guide the development and marketing of effective, coral-safe sunscreens.

Aerial view of fishing vessels at a pier (external link)

Mapping risks of labor abuse and illegal fishing

A new modeling approach combines machine learning and human insights to map the regions and ports most at risk for illicit practices, like forced labor or illegal catch, and identifies opportunities for mitigating such risks. (Source: Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions)

squid being held underwater

Researchers investigate squid found far from home

California market squid are typically found between Baja California and Monterey Bay. New research details how climate change has likely ushered the creatures north.

Antarctica ice - external link

How fast will Antarctica’s ice sheet melt?

Using autonomous drones and machine-learning models, geophysicist Dustin Schroeder and a multidisciplinary team are working to quickly and efficiently collect ice sheet data that can improve our understanding of melt rates. (Source: Stanford HAI)

Orca whale breaching (external link)

'Predation at the largest scale': Understanding orca whales as apex predators

Stanford whale biologist Jeremy Goldbogen discusses recent documentation of orcas teaming up to take down an adult blue whale – “arguably one of the most dramatic and intense predator-prey interactions on the planet.” (Source: Stanford News)

Aerial view of Ile Anglaise reef

Researchers test physics of coral as an indicator of reef health

New research shows that physics measurements of just a small portion of reef can be used to assess the health of an entire reef system. The findings may help scientists grasp how these important ecosystems will respond to a changing climate.

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