Stanford University
coral reef

Stanford Earth Matters

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

Jordan

The effects of climate change on water shortages

If global temperatures continue to rise, rainfall will increasingly become a beast of extremes. As a way of exploring the future risk of water shortage in a complex environment, scientists have made a case study of Jordan, one of the most water-poor nations in the world.

Kilauea ash

What can machine learning tell us about the solid Earth?

Scientists are training machine learning algorithms to help shed light on earthquake hazards, volcanic eruptions, groundwater flow and longstanding mysteries about what goes on beneath the Earth’s surface.

Agriculture

What does climate change mean for world hunger?

As more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, leading to climate change, crops might carry fewer nutrients, like zinc and iron. Stanford researchers explored this trend and regions most likely to be hurt by it.

Mosquito

How does climate change affect disease?

As the globe warms, mosquitoes will roam beyond their current habitats, shifting the burden of diseases like malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile virus. Researchers forecast different scenarios depending on the extent of climate change.

Wind energy

Costa Rica: A 'decarbonization lab' for the world?

In a speech at Stanford, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada described a vision for the Central American country to phase out all carbon emissions by the year 2050. 

Red

Researchers watch shock waves travel through silicon

A new technique involving pulses of ultrafast, high-power lasers has allowed scientists to see how silicon, an abundant element in Earth's crust, changes under intense pressure.

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.

Solar

Q&A: The dollars and sense of big batteries on the grid

Storing energy produced by wind or solar for later use has a challenge competing with existing natural gas-fired generation units. But batteries designed for the job could ease the way.

Dhaka

A better brick

Inside a quest to save lives by cleaning up production of a ubiquitous building material.

Vegetation

Know Your Planet: How do plants affect weather?

A major component of climate change unknowns stems from interactions between changes in climate and changes in ecosystems. Stanford hydrologist Alexandra Konings explains how plants shape weather patterns and influence climate.

Van Arsdale

As relicensing looms, aging dams face a reckoning

Green power source or fish killer? As older dams around the West come up for relicensing, their owners know that they’ll have to spend heavily to fix problems, while new energy sources are getting cheaper.

Seedling

Natural climate solutions aren't enough

Protecting carbon sinks, such as forests and wetlands, is key to slowing climate change, but only part of the puzzle, Stanford researchers say. Reducing emissions is still essential for meeting global climate goals.

Baiae

Volcanoes, archaeology and the secrets of Roman concrete

Geophysical processes have shaped Pozzuoli, Italy, like few other places in the world. Stanford students applied modern tools to understand those links and what it means to live with natural hazards as both threat and inspiration.

Jamaica Bay

Can we recover valuable chemicals from sewage?

A chemical engineer wants to make the term ‘wastewater’ obsolete by extracting usable chemicals to create fertilizers, disinfectants and more.

Spiral Jetty

What's likely to cause human extinction – and how can we avoid it?

Stanford epidemiologist Stephen Luby sees three potential outcomes for humanity by 2100: extinction, the collapse of civilization with limited survival, or a thriving society. 

Annapolis flood

What rising seas mean for local economies

High-tide flooding resulting from climate change is already disrupting the economy of Annapolis, Maryland. As sea levels rise, the impacts are expected to get worse for coastal communities.

Clarksburg

Downsizing the Delta tunnel plan: What it means for water and ecosystems

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a plan to downsize a project aimed at diverting water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Central Valley and Southern California. Stanford experts discuss likely impacts.

Tree of life

Species evolve ways to backup life's machinery

A new analysis of biological data reveals that every species from bacteria to primates has developed ways to bypass breakdowns in the networks of proteins vital to sustaining life.

Fork and knife

Q&A: Meat, health and the environment

A Stanford nutrition expert discusses the connections between meat consumption, carbon emissions, water needs and health.

Road lights

Why batteries with extra lithium ions fail

Why does stuffing more lithium into battery cathodes lead to their failure? New research illuminating this phenomenon could pave the way to electric cars that can drive longer distances between charges.

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