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Stanford Earth Matters

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

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Wind turbines at sunset

The science behind decarbonization

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts who are predicting the consequences of future emission pathways, mapping out viable climate solutions, enabling better carbon accounting and revealing the stakes of ambitious emission targets.

Illustration of planet outgassing

Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres

The gases released from meteorite samples heated in a high-temperature furnace can tell scientists about the initial composition of the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets.

Homes with rooftop solar panels

How to close the clean-energy divide

An engineer and clean-energy entrepreneur discusses the troubling socio-economic gap in access to sustainable energy and the things we can do now to narrow and, perhaps, close it.

Farmland at sunset

Climate change has hurt farm productivity

New research shows climate change has wiped out seven years of improvements in agricultural productivity over the past 60 years.

Jordan desert with video play button

Jordan's worsening water crisis a warning for the world

Prolonged and potentially destabilizing water shortages will become commonplace in Jordan by 2100, new research finds, unless the nation implements comprehensive reform, from fixing leaky pipes to desalinating seawater. Jordan’s water crisis is emblematic of challenges looming around the world as a result of climate change and rapid population growth. 

Protestors holding sign that reads clean water is a human right

Q&A: Environmental policies for all Americans?

Stanford researchers weigh in on how the Biden administration can address environmental justice and social issues that have been generations in the making.

Nuclear plant

Breaking U.S. nuclear waste stalemate could be key to Biden’s climate goals

Stanford University experts are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration can change the U.S. trajectory on nuclear waste, and they offer their thoughts on how it can be done.

Mackerel school

Aquaculture’s promise and peril

Twenty years ago, a Stanford-led analysis sparked controversy by highlighting fish farming’s damage to ocean fisheries. Now a follow-up study takes stock of the industry’s progress and points to opportunities for sustainable growth.

Trees in a savannah

One of Earth's biggest carbon sinks has been overestimated

The results contradict a widely accepted assumption in climate models that biomass and soil carbon will increase in tandem in the coming decades and highlight the importance of grasslands in helping to draw down carbon.

Environmental issues collage

Understanding Biden's environmental challenges and actions

The Biden administration’s ambitious plans for environmental progress face complex obstacles. The findings, expertise and policy experience of Stanford researchers working across multiple fields could help contribute to sustainable, cost-effective solutions. Dig deeper: Environmental justiceNuclear waste | Wildfire solutions | The warming Arctic | U.S. drinking water

Melting iceberg

Research and policy in a changing Arctic

Stanford University scholars discuss the Biden administration’s early actions on environmental issues in the Arctic and how the U.S. government can address threats to ecosystems, people and infrastructure in the fastest-warming place on Earth.

First closeups of how a lithium-metal electrode ages

Scientists have documented a process that makes these next-gen batteries lose charge – and eventually some of their capacity for storing energy – even when a device is turned off.

Artist's illustration of the exoplanet WASP-121b

A plethora of planets with water-rich atmospheres?

New research suggests that hot, rocky planets in other solar systems could form and keep thick atmospheres full of water.

Fukushima damage

Lessons from the Fukushima disaster 10 years later

A decade after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan, Stanford experts discuss revelations about radiation from the disaster, advances in earthquake science related to the event and how its devastating impact has influenced strategies for tsunami defense and local warning systems.

Fishing boats at dock

Small-scale fisheries offer strategies for resilience in the face of climate change

Small-scale fisheries, which employ about 90 percent of the world’s fishers and supply half the fish for human consumption, are on the frontlines of climate change. They may offer insights into resilience.

Aerial view of pollution rising from a coal fired power plant in Gansu Province

Global carbon emissions need to shrink 10 times faster

Among the dozens of countries that reduced their emissions 2016-2019, carbon dioxide emissions fell at roughly one tenth the rate needed worldwide to hold global warming well below 2°C relative to preindustrial levels, a new study finds.

Katse Dam in Lesotho, South Africa

How much do humans influence Earth’s water levels?

A new study provides the first global accounting of fluctuations in lake and reservoir water levels. The research shows 57 percent of the variability occurs in dammed reservoirs and other bodies of water managed by people, highlighting the dominant role humans now play in Earth’s water cycle.

Family in front of an industrial harbor

Air pollution puts children at higher risk of disease in adulthood

First of its kind study reveals evidence that early exposure to dirty air alters genes in a way that could lead to adult heart disease, among other ailments. The findings could change the way medical experts and parents think about the air children breathe and inform clinical interventions.

Covid social distancing

How behaviors complicate epidemic outcomes

A new model of disease spread describes how competing economic and health incentives influence social contact – and vice versa. The result is a complex and dynamic epidemic trajectory.

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