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Stanford Earth Matters

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

Winds of change for vertical axis turbines?

New research suggests vertical axis turbines, which may have fewer impacts on birds and the environment, could increase public support for new wind energy installations.

Man overlooking Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Scientists make first observations of how a meteor-like shock turns silica into glass

Research with SLAC’s X-ray laser simulates what happens when a meteor hits Earth’s crust. The results suggest that scientists studying impact sites have been overestimating the sizes of the meteors that made them.

Steel industry in Benxi, China.

After years of nearly flat growth, global fossil fuel emissions are inching up

An international research team reports that the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels has resumed after a 3-year respite and may increase again next year. Despite the findings, improved energy efficiency and a booming renewables market provide signs of hope.

Secretary Kerry Addresses Delegates Before Signing the COP21 Climate Change Agreement on Earth Day in New York.

Best-case scenario for international climate talks

Stanford researchers, including some who helped provide scientific information underlying the Paris climate accord, discuss their hopes for the current talks at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

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.

Tony Kovscek and Tae Wook Kim working in a lab

New techniques for removing carbon from the atmosphere

As the world continues to burn 100 million barrels of oil a day – a rate that is expected to continue for the next 50 years – Stanford Earth researchers are developing greener ways of extracting the oil and mitigating the resulting greenhouse gases.

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."

rising sea levels illustration

​Jenny Suckale: A Better Plan B for Managing Disasters

Stanford’s Russ Altman and Jenny Suckale explore how society can better prepare for a future with more frequent and more dangerous storms.
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.

Water faucet.

Media attention to drought linked to household water savings

With a new web-scraping and search algorithm and real water utility data, Stanford researchers have shown a relationship between media coverage of the recent historic California drought and household water savings.

Fiber optic cable.

Building a ‘billion sensors’ earthquake observatory with optical fibers

The same optical fibers that deliver high-speed internet and HD video to our homes could one day double as seismic sensors for monitoring and studying earthquakes.

coal fire plant

Effects of rolling back the Clean Power Plan

Early October the EPA moved to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Stanford legal and economic experts discuss this move and what it means for attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Giraffes in front of sunset.

Diversity of large animals plays an important role in carbon cycle

With abundant data on plants, large animals and their activity, and carbon soil levels in the Amazon, Stanford research suggests that large animal diversity influences carbon stocks and contributes to climate change mitigation.

farm tractor

Soil holds potential to slow global warming

The land under our feet and the plant matter it contains could offset a significant amount of carbon emissions if managed properly.

First oceans may have been acidic

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

Q&A with Stanford experts on the president’s Paris climate agreement decision

The president announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Four Stanford scholars discuss the implications of this decision.

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Greenland’s summer ocean bloom likely fueled by iron

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

Ugandan forest

Paying Farmers Not to Cut Down Trees in Uganda Helps Fight Climate Change

A new study demonstrates a cost-effective strategy to combat climate change by paying farmers in Uganda to conserve and plant trees.

Introducing the Mobile Monitoring Challenge

The competition will provide a level and controlled playing field for testing remote technologies to monitor methane leaks from the oil and gas industry.

California waterway

Visualizing California’s drought

A new web portal puts four years of California drought data into an interactive format, showing where regions met or missed water conservation goals. The idea is to motivate awareness and conservation.

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