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Stanford Earth Matters

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Fish swimming in plastic debris

Plastic ingestion by fish is a growing problem

A new research review finds the rate of plastic consumption in fish has doubled in the past decade and continues to increase. Fish higher up on the food chain are at the greatest risk.

R/V Roger Revelle

Sulfur plays a role in the ocean carbon cycle, study finds

The results suggest a possible feedback that could help trap carbon in the ocean’s low-oxygen zones, but the impact on climate change remains unclear.

Editor's picks 2020 banner

Editor's picks: Top 10 stories of 2020

Our list includes a mix of favorites, high-impact stories and some of our most-read research coverage from a tumultuous year.

Reef crevice

Combining light and sound to see underwater

The “Photoacoustic Airborne Sonar System” could be installed beneath drones to enable aerial underwater surveys and high-resolution mapping of the deep ocean.

Under ice bloom

Understanding the Arctic's hidden phytoplankton blooms

A growing body of evidence suggests tiny marine algae can bloom in the darkness below sea ice in the Arctic Ocean – and that such blooms occurred even before climate change began affecting the region's ice cover.

Aerial view of Monterey Bay, California

Could kelp help relieve ocean acidification?

A new analysis of California’s Monterey Bay evaluates kelp’s potential to reduce ocean acidification, the harmful fallout from climate change on marine ecosystems and the food they produce for human populations.

Ocean storm

Undersea origins of Earth's mysterious Love waves

Supercomputer simulations of planetary-scale interactions show how ocean storms and the structure of Earth’s upper layers together generate much of the world’s seismic waves. Decoding the faint but ubiquitous vibrations known as Love waves could yield insights about Earth’s storm history, changing climate and interior.

Blue whale

Pattern in whale songs predicts migration

Through the use of two advanced audio recording technologies, a collaboration of Monterey Bay researchers has found that blue whales switch from nighttime to daytime singing when they are starting to migrate.

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.

Mackerel school

More food from the sea by 2050

If sustainably managed, wild fisheries and mariculture could help meet the rising demand for food in the long term.

Water waves

New way to study ocean life

Insights from an innovative rotating microscope could provide a new window into the secrets of microscopic life in the ocean and their effects on crucial planetary processes, such as carbon fixation.

Flooded road

Bay Area coastal flooding triggers regionwide commute disruptions

Researchers have modeled how coastal flooding will impact commutes in the Bay Area over the next 20 years. Regions with sparse road networks will have some of the worst commute delays, regardless of their distances from the coast.

Logging

Q&A: Upscaling sustainability

Stanford scientists discuss obstacles for large-scale green initiatives and what it takes for sustainability efforts to deliver lasting benefits across borders, sectors and communities.

Blue whale

Studying whales with high-tech tools

With innovative tools and access to some of the most whale-friendly waters in the world, Stanford researchers aim to demystify the lives, biology and behavior of the largest creatures on Earth.

Phytoplankton bloom in the Arctic

'Regime shift' happening in the Arctic Ocean

Stanford scientists find the growth of phytoplankton in the Arctic Ocean has increased 57 percent over just two decades, enhancing its ability to soak up carbon dioxide. While once linked to melting sea ice, the increase is now propelled by rising concentrations of tiny algae.

Fish in sea

Finding food security underwater

Our growing need for food poses one of the biggest threats to the environment. Stanford ocean and food security experts explain how the ocean could produce dramatically more food while driving sustainable economic growth.

'A bad time to be alive': Study links ocean deoxygenation to ancient die-off

Researchers present new evidence that the deoxygenation of the ocean wiped out biodiversity during one of the “Big Five” mass extinctions in Earth’s history – relevant information as climate change contributes to decreasing oxygen in the oceans today.

Squid

How social squid communicate in the dark

Researchers begin to reveal how social squid communicate in the near-blackness of the deep sea.

Giant clam

Smaller animals faced surprisingly long odds in ancient oceans

New fossil research shows extinction for smaller marine animals across most of the past 485 million years was more common than once believed. Why?

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