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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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Cattle grazing at sunset in Brazil

Landscape disruptions threaten Paris climate agreement goals

A new study finds emissions from deforestation, conversion of wild landscapes to agriculture, and other changes in land use worldwide contributed 25 percent of all human-caused emissions between 2001 and 2017.

R/V Roger Revelle

Sulfur plays a role in the ocean carbon cycle, study finds

The results suggest a possible feedback that could help trap carbon in the ocean’s low-oxygen zones, but the impact on climate change remains unclear.

Wildfire and smoke

The shifting burden of wildfires in the United States

Wildfire smoke will be one of the most widely felt health impacts of climate change throughout the country, but U.S. clean air regulations are not equipped to deal with it. Stanford experts discuss the causes and impacts of wildfire activity and its rapid acceleration in the American west.

Flooded neighborhood

Climate change has caused billions of dollars in flood damages

Flooding has caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage in the U.S. over the past three decades. Researchers found that 36 percent of the costs of flooding in the U.S. from 1988 to 2017 were a result of intensifying precipitation, consistent with predictions of global warming.

Carbon simulation

COVID lockdown causes record drop in carbon emissions for 2020

Carbon dioxide emissions from oil, gas and coal this year are predicted to reach approximately 34 billion tons, a 7 percent drop from fossil emission levels in 2019. Emissions from transport account for the largest share of the global decrease.

Editor's picks 2020 banner

Editor's picks: Top 10 stories of 2020

Our list includes a mix of favorites, high-impact stories and some of our most-read research coverage from a tumultuous year.

Lifeless landscape

The science behind extinction

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts who are deciphering the mysteries and mechanisms of extinction and survival in Earth’s deep past and painting an increasingly detailed picture of life now at the brink.

Dry Searsville Lake

New study allows regional prediction of uranium in groundwater

Stanford researchers can predict where and when uranium is released into aquifers and suggest an easy fix to keep this naturally occurring toxin from contaminating water sources.

Under ice bloom

Understanding the Arctic's hidden phytoplankton blooms

A growing body of evidence suggests tiny marine algae can bloom in the darkness below sea ice in the Arctic Ocean – and that such blooms occurred even before climate change began affecting the region's ice cover.

Food

Reducing global food system emissions key to meeting climate goals

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from food systems will be vital for reaching climate goals – and it will require coordinated action across sectors and between national governments, according to new research. 

Dry landscape

In a warming world, Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ drought won’t be an anomaly

Using new high-resolution simulations, researchers conclude that climate change made the Cape Town ‘Day Zero’ drought five to six times more likely and suggest extreme drought events could become common in southwestern South Africa by the end of the 21st century.

Solar panels

Debugging climate action

Programmers write code, find what is not working, and then debug their program. It’s the same with climate change, Microsoft’s chief environment officer said in a conversation hosted as part of Stanford's Global Energy Dialogues.

Penguins on ice

Counting penguins with autonomous drones

A new multi-drone imaging system was put to the test in Antarctica. The task? Documenting a colony of roughly 1 million Adélie penguins.

Corn

U.S. corn crop increasingly sensitive to drought

New management approaches and technology have allowed the U.S. Corn Belt to increase yields despite some changes in climate. However, soil sensitivity to drought has increased significantly, according to a new study that could help identify ways to reverse the trend.

Health clinic care

Accessible healthcare as climate solution

Making high-quality care accessible to local and Indigenous communities was correlated with a 70 percent reduction of deforestation in an Indonesian national park. By offsetting healthcare costs, the community-designed program reduced incentives for illegal logging.

Indian village school

How extreme heat affects learning

Extremely hot days may directly affect students’ capacity to learn and teachers’ capacity to teach, especially in schools without air conditioning, according to a new study. Worsening climate change is likely to deepen educational inequities.

Manure truck

Why laughing gas is a growing climate problem

Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” is the most important greenhouse gas after methane and carbon dioxide and the biggest human-related threat to the ozone layer. Now, emissions of the gas are rising faster than expected.

Thomas Fire, 2017

The science behind the West Coast fires

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts on wildfires' links to climate change, the health impacts of smoke, and promising strategies for preventing huge blazes and mitigating risks.

Santa Clara Unit Lightning Complex Fire

Does experiencing wildfires create political consensus on resilience measures?

Though partisanship makes it difficult to enact policy to deal with climate change, research shows that experience with wildfires might diminish the partisan gap.

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