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Stanford Earth Matters

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Pacific Ocean

Archaea hold clues to ancient ocean temperatures

Scientists at Stanford have identified molecules that tough microbes use to survive in warming waters, opening a window more broadly into studying conditions in ancient seas.

View from the cockpit

Vintage film shows Thwaites Glacier ice shelf in Antarctica melting faster than previously observed

Newly available archival film has revealed the eastern ice shelf of Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is melting faster than previous estimates, suggesting the shelf may collapse sooner than expected.

New technology harnesses energy from mixing of freshwater and seawater

A new battery made from affordable and durable materials generates energy from places where salt and fresh waters mingle. The technology could make coastal wastewater treatment plants energy-independent and carbon neutral.

Hydrothermal

How deep-ocean vents fuel massive phytoplankton blooms

A new study suggests vents in the seafloor may affect life near the ocean’s surface and the global carbon cycle more than previously thought. 

Pacific yellowfin tuna

Tunas, sharks and ships at sea

Researchers combine maps of marine predator habitats with satellite tracks of fishing fleets to identify regions where they overlap – a step toward more effective wildlife management on the high seas.

Sendai

Q&A: Designing a better local tsunami warning system

New research outlines a more accurate and consistent way to warn coastal residents when and where tsunami waves are likely to hit. 

Divers collecting coral sample.

Q&A: Corals reveal patterns in past weather events

A Stanford researcher weighs in on how reconstructing past weather events using coral reefs can help demystify the complex phenomenon known as El Niño.

Ocean

Why deep oceans gave life to the first big, complex organisms

Why did the first big, complex organisms spring to life in deep, dark oceans where food was scarce? A new study finds great depths provided a stable, life-sustaining refuge from wild temperature swings in the shallows.

Future oceans

A glimpse into future oceans

Volcanic carbon dioxide vents off the coast of Italy are rapidly acidifying nearby waters, providing a crystal ball-view into potential future marine biodiversity impacts around the world.

Getz Ice Shelf

What caused Earth's biggest mass extinction?

Scientists have debated until now what made Earth's oceans so inhospitable to life that some 96 percent of marine species died off at the end of the Permian period. New research shows the "Great Dying" was caused by global warming that left ocean animals unable to breathe.

Butterflyfish

Fish give up the fight after coral bleaching

A new study offers some of the first evidence that coral bleaching may trigger rapid and potentially disruptive change in fish behavior.

Meltwater stream on glacier in Greenland

Scientists find missing piece in glacier melt predictions

A new method for observing water within ice has revealed stored meltwater that may explain the complex flow behavior of some Greenland glaciers, an important component for predicting sea-level rise in a changing climate.

Ocean wind

Searching the sea for climate solutions

A new study examines how renewable energy, marine protected areas, carbon storage in marine plants, and other ocean-based solutions could help to combat climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems.

Pig waste

How machine learning can aid environmental monitoring

Cash-strapped environmental regulators have a powerful and cheap new weapon. New research suggests machine learning methods more than double the number of violations detected.

Plastic straws

Do plastic straws really make a difference?

Driven by public pressure, governments and corporations are considering eliminating or phasing out single-use plastics such as straws. Stanford experts discuss the limitations of these bans and the potential for meaningful change.

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.   

Northern elephant seal

Tracking migration patterns of marine predators yields geopolitical challenges

Understanding the movements of migratory marine animals through different countries' waters and in the open ocean beyond is vital to their management and conservation.

Coral reef

Mapping coral reefs with drones

A new approach to underwater mapping could help scientists predict what sorts of underwater flows, wave action and temperatures may help preserve healthy reefs and prevent coral bleaching.

Adriatic

Trawling ban did not hurt fishing communities

New research shows fishers who complied with a moratorium in the Adriatic Sea maintained catch levels by fishing in other areas. The findings help justify extending regional protection and provide insight for ocean management elsewhere.

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