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Stanford Earth Matters

Science and insights for people who care about Earth, its resources and its environment

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Fishing boat

Making marine management as dynamic as the sea

Fisheries managers today protect species by creating static areas that fishers must avoid. New software can help locate productive fishing spots while avoiding species such as sea turtles and dolphins.

brown algae

How an overlooked process in bacteria could shed light on ancient environments

Geologists assume when they find molecules called sterols in soils or rocks they indicate the presence of plants, animals or fungi in ancient environments. But discovering how some bacteria also produce and modify sterols could change those interpretations.

Coral reef

Editing coral DNA in search for keys to survival

Stanford scientists and their colleagues have used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system to modify genes in coral, a key step toward pinpointing natural gene variants that may help corals survive in warmer waters.

krill

Swarms of tiny organisms churn ocean waters

Zooplankton may have an outsize influence on their environment, creating enough turbulence to influence global nutrient cycles and climate models.

Mother and baby sperm whales

Stanford researchers learn why aquatic mammals need to be big, but not too big

Examining body sizes of ancient and modern aquatic mammals and their terrestrial counterparts reveals that life in water restricts mammals to a narrow range of body sizes – big enough to stay warm, but not so big they can’t find enough food.

surfers with oil rig in background

Stanford law and water quality experts discuss possible offshore oil expansion

If federal plans move ahead, most U.S. coastal waters would be open to offshore oil drilling. Stanford professors look at the issues from California's perspective.

Student snorkeling among coral reefs.

Learning through fieldwork in Palau

Undergraduates study links between human and natural systems in a program that puts them up close with corals. Stanford Earth professor Rob Dunbar is a lead instructor. 

Greg Beroza showing off earthquake data.

21st-century Earth science is computer intensive and data driven

If asked to imagine a geologist, you might envision a tanned and dusty figure, hardy and weathered like the ancient rocks that he or she spends days studying out “in the field."

Rock at water's edge at sunset

First oceans may have been acidic

A model of ion flux in the oceans shows carbon dioxide driving ocean acidity.

Blue sea ice

Poor outlook for biodiversity in Antarctica

A comparison of Antarctic biodiversity and its management with global trends finds that it is more similar to the rest of the world than previously believed. 

The front of Antarctica's Getz Ice Shelf. Photo credit: Jeremy Harbeck/NASA

New Study Reveals Strong El Niño Events Cause Large Changes in Antarctic Ice Shelves

Matthew Siegfried, a postdoctoral researcher working with Dustin Schroeder in the Stanford Radio Glaciology Group, co-authored a study showing oscillations of water temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean can induce rapid melting of Antarctic ice shelves.

Sea turtle swimming near reef.

Q&A: Loss of protections for marine sanctuaries could threaten oceanic environment and fisheries

Researchers who have studied marine national monuments and adjacent areas discuss their value and the potential impacts of a change in protected status.

Plastic bag floating through ocean.

Q&A: The history and future of the global plastics economy

Stanford chemist Robert Waymouth discusses changes in incentives and technologies to create a more sustainable future for plastics.

Ice flow

Greenland’s summer ocean bloom likely fueled by iron

Iron-rich meltwater from Greenland’s glaciers are helping fuel a summer bloom of phytoplankton.

Dustin Schroeder stands in front of airplane in Antarctica

Frozen secrets: Geophysicist explores glaciers with radar

Stanford Earth’s Dustin Schroeder researches new ways of observing, understanding, and predicting the configuration of ice sheets using ice-penetrating radar data.

chinese fishing boats

How China is poised for marine fisheries reform

China has introduced an unprecedented policy platform for stewarding its fisheries and other marine resources.

sea surface temperature map

Does the new La Niña forecast mean a dry winter for California?

Stanford Earth's Daniel Swain explains that the expected La Niña could end up being fairly weak and open up the possibility for normal rainfall in Southern California. 

Bubbles rising through water.

Protecting Coral Reefs with Bubbles

Bubbles – yes, bubbles – could help protect coral reefs, oyster farms, and other coastal ecosystems from increasing ocean acidification, according to new Stanford research.

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