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Earth System Science

Understanding how our planet works

Our goal is to understand, predict, and respond to human-caused and natural environmental change at local to global scales. Scientists in our Earth System Science department offer a strong graduate research program across a broad range of environmental and Earth science disciplines for students working toward a doctoral degree. Undergraduate and coterminal master's degrees are offered through the closely related and popular Earth Systems Program.

Research groups in Earth system science

Learn more about our faculty labs and research groups ranging from ocean biogeochemistry to soil science and geohydrology.

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Shared analytical facilities

Students and faculty start their examination of specimens in our comprehensive Earth Materials Preparation lab. Our shared labs offer everything from gas, liquid, and solid analyses to isotopic analysis for geochronology and deciphering (bio)geochemical processes.

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Stanford Geospatial Center

Housed in Branner library, the center offers workshops on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), data management, visualization tools, and spatial analysis.

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Earth system science news

Wildfire smoke is unraveling decades of air quality gains

Stanford researchers have developed an AI model for predicting dangerous particle pollution to help track the American West’s rapidly worsening wildfire smoke. The detailed results show millions of Americans are routinely exposed to pollution at levels rarely seen just a decade ago.

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Scott Fendorf elected to 2022 Class of AGU Fellows

Fendorf, the Terry Huffington Professor in the Department of Earth System Science and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute, has been elected for his exceptional achievements.

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Stanford researchers discuss equity in storm planning and response

Hurricanes and severe storms exacerbate inequalities. Ahead of a Sept. 21 webinar on the subject, Stanford experts discuss how to ensure equity in planning and response for such extreme weather events, economic benefits of nature-based storm defenses, and related issues. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)

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Heat wave hits Northern California – here’s how to stay safe and cool

“We're seeing all around the world that heat records are being broken, and we're seeing the impacts of those severe heat events, whether it's in agriculture, in our food system, water resources, electricity generation, ecosystems, both on land and in rivers and streams, as well as in the ocean from marine heatwaves,” says Stanford's Noah Diffenbaugh. 

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