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coral reef

Stanford Earth Matters

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

'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.

Olive baboon

How forest loss leads to spread of disease

Viruses that jump from animals to people, like the one responsible for COVID-19, will likely become more common as people continue to transform natural habitats into agricultural land, a new study suggests.

Cedar Fire, Sequoia National Forest

Longer, more extreme wildfire seasons

A new study finds that autumn days with extreme fire weather have more than doubled in California since the early 1980s due to climate change.

Aerial view of a city with networking lines overlaid.

Harnessing fiber-optic networks to map earthquake trouble spots

A new study demonstrates the potential for using cities' existing networks of buried optical fibers as an inexpensive observatory for monitoring and studying earthquakes.

SARS-CoV-2

Understanding spread of COVID-19

Much remains unknown about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through the environment. Environmental engineers describe potential transmission pathways and their implications.

Illustration of corona virus on a world map

COVID-19 in a world made ripe for pandemics

Emerging infectious diseases have become more likely – and more likely to be consequential – partly as a result of how people move around the planet and relate to the natural world.

Squid

How social squid communicate in the dark

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

Coffee plants

Crop diversity can buffer the effects of climate change

The researchers found that farms with diverse crops planted together provide more secure, stable habitats for wildlife and are more resilient to climate change than the single-crop standard that dominates today’s agriculture industry.

Skyline

Climate change means more extreme weather than predicted

Analysis shows global warming is intensifying the occurrence of unprecedented hot spells and downpours faster than predicted by historical trends. New approaches for incorporating global warming into extreme weather analysis could improve global risk management.

Hot Jupiter

What other planets can teach us about Earth

Scientists exploring space are bringing back insights about Earth’s deep past, its complicated relationship with life and our planet’s future.

Coral reef

How did marine animals become so diverse?

Upending an evolutionary theory proposed in the 1950s, scientists have found that the groups most resistant to extinction also contain the greatest ecological diversity – their members perform a larger number of different functions in ecosystems.

Broken pipe with water spraying

A better way to detect underground water leaks

Stanford researchers propose a new way to locate water leaks within the tangle of aging pipes found beneath many cities. The improvement could save time, money and billions of gallons of water.

Diamonds

A better way to build diamonds

With the right amount of pressure and surprisingly little heat, a substance found in fossil fuels can transform into pure diamond.

DNA strand

Scientists find clues to how tiny fish ‘pauses’ its life

Stanford scientists have identified molecular drivers that put the “pause” in “diapause,” a life stage of the African killifish that suspends its development as an embryo.

Cascade of yellow light illustration

Machine learning could speed the arrival of ultra-fast-charging electric cars

Using artificial intelligence, a Stanford-led research team has slashed battery testing times – a key barrier to longer-lasting, faster-charging batteries for electric vehicles – by nearly fifteenfold.

Giant clam

Smaller animals faced surprisingly long odds in ancient oceans, Stanford study finds

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

Himalayas

Could climate change bring more landslides to High Mountain Asia?

Researchers used satellite estimates and modeled precipitation data to show warming temperatures will cause more intense rainfall in some areas of the High Mountain Asia region, and this could lead to increased landslide activity in the border region of China and Nepal.

Amazon rainforest

Where in the world can plants best soak up carbon emissions?

Plants around the world are growing at a slower than expected. Researchers say insufficient nutrients in the soil may be the culprit. A new world nutrient map provides a framework for predicting what areas around the world will be successful carbon sinks in the future. 

 

Hoover Dam

Hydropower dams threaten fish habitats worldwide

New research maps the impacts of past and future hydropower development on fish habitats – and points to where restoration efforts may do the most good.

Rusty iron rebar

Rust offers a cheap way to filter arsenic-poisoned water

In regions that lack the resources to treat the contaminated water, it can lead to disease, cancer and even death.

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