Earth Matters | Earth
Stanford University
coral reef

Stanford Earth Matters

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

Port Arthur

Bracing for sea level rise to boost national security

Storm season is upon us, the federal flood insurance plan is broken and sea level rise continues unabated. Stanford climate and policy experts Alice Hill and Katharine Mach look at issues related to rising seas with an eye toward increasing resilience and security.

Dunes

Purifier creates disinfectant from water and sunlight

The system could one day be adapted into solar-powered water purification stations for use in developing regions where fresh water is a precious commodity.

Gas torch

U.S. oil and gas methane emissions are 60 percent higher than EPA reports

A new study shows leakage equals $2 billion dollars in wasted natural gas — enough to supply 10 million households — and provides a roadmap for future emissions research.

Fuego Volcano

Beyond lava and ash: What makes volcanoes dangerous?

Recent eruptions offer reminders that lava, ash and size don’t fully explain how volcanoes become deadly. Geologists Gail Mahood and Donald Lowe describe some of the science and mysteries behind volcanic hazards. 

Yunnan Province

Overuse of fertilizers and pesticides in China linked to farm size

A new study finds chemicals are often used inefficiently on small farms in China. Land and migration policies may help explain why the country uses 30 percent of the world's fertilizers and pesticides on 9 percent of global cropland.

Corn stalks

Warmer climate will dramatically increase the volatility of global corn crops

A new study co-authored by Earth System Science professor Rosamond Naylor looks at what climate change will mean for global yields of corn, or maize, the most widely grown crop in the world. The study shows dramatic increases in the variability of annual corn yields, which could lead to price hikes and global shortages. 

Hummingbird

Nectar research reveals how species coexist

Different species almost always coexist – whether it’s big animals on the plains, bugs in a jungle or yeasts in flower nectar – but how that works is complicated. Now, Stanford researchers have teased apart competing theories of how species live together.

Charging vehicle

Can utilities afford electric vehicle commitments?

Energy policy expert Michael Wara comments on the decision to approve $768 million in transportation electrification projects and how it could affect utilities, the environment and California ratepayers.

Groundwater

Arsenic unlocked: Overpumping may up contamination risk

Pumping an aquifer to the last drop squeezes out more than water. A new study suggests it can also unlock dangerous arsenic from buried clays. Sinking land may provide an early warning and measure of contamination.

Cracked earth

Study casts doubt on the predictive value of earthquake foreshocks

Do tiny underground tremors provide clues that a big earthquake is coming? A new study suggests foreshocks are just like other small quakes, not helpful warning signs as previously thought.

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.

Amazon rainforest

Height matters for tree survival in the Amazon

A new study shows that tall and older Amazonian forests are more resilient to drought than shorter and younger forests, but more vulnerable to the effects of a dry atmosphere and heat.

East Rift Zone

Geothermal at the foot of Kilauea

Geothermal engineer Roland Horne discusses geothermal energy in the face of natural hazards and a way to tap the earth’s heat far from volcanoes in the future.

Fruit bat in Kerala

Nipah: A little-known virus that could become the next global pandemic

An outbreak of Nipah in South India has renewed interest in the deadly virus. Stanford epidemiologist Stephen Luby explains risk factors, potential interventions and how land conversion connects to the emergence of this kind of infection.

city heatwave

Climate mitigation could yield trillions in economic benefits

Stanford scientists found that the global economy is likely to benefit from ambitious global warming limits agreed to in the United Nations Paris Agreement.

brown algae

Overlooked process in bacteria may 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.

Motion

What does the future of energy look like?

Eight Stanford scientists share ideas for how the world can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and make energy more sustainable, secure and affordable for all.

sage grouse

Judge rules sage grouse was wrongly denied protection

A federal court has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service improperly ignored its own best science when it made an abrupt about-face and decided not to offer endangered species protections to the bi-state sage grouse.

bicycle silhouette

How our brains learn the look of greener products

A new study suggests people can quickly, if unwittingly, learn visual cues for environmental friendliness. Designers could use the insight to try to trigger thoughts about sustainability when people are shopping. 

fresh water stream

Wastewater project harnesses anaerobic bacteria to save energy

A wastewater treatment plant under construction in Redwood Shores will be the largest to test a technology that significantly reduces the cost of cleaning water. The key: bacteria that eschew oxygen while producing burnable methane.

maillinkedindouble carrot leftarrow leftdouble carrotplayerinstagramclosecarrotquotefacebooktwitterplusminussearchmenuarrowcloudclock