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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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Pregnant woman with water glass

Higher levels of nitrate in drinking water linked to preterm birth, study finds

Women exposed to higher levels of nitrate in drinking water were more likely to deliver very early, according to a study of 1.4 million California births.

Coring and geophysical well-logging operation in Texas

Local impacts from fracking the Eagle Ford

Stanford scientists simulated the local risk of damaging or nuisance-level shaking caused by hydraulic fracturing across the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. The results could inform a new approach to managing human-caused earthquakes.

Flooding south of Houston in September in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (Credit Barbara Davidson for The New York Times)

Homes in floodplains are overvalued by nearly $44 billion

Analysis of sales data and flood risk data over two decades indicates that housing markets fail to fully account for information about flood risk. The findings suggest that policies to improve risk communication could influence market outcomes.

Person removing asbestos from building

U.S. asbestos sites made risky by some remediation strategies

Efforts to prevent human exposure to asbestos may be mobilizing the cancer-causing mineral so that it can reach water supplies, based on new findings about how the fibers move through soil.

Brick kiln chimneys in Dhaka, Bangladesh

AI empowers environmental regulators

Monitoring environmental compliance is a particular challenge for governments in poor countries. A new machine learning approach that uses satellite imagery to pinpoint highly polluting brick kilns in Bangladesh could provide a low-cost solution.

Wind turbines at sunset

The science behind decarbonization

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

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.

East Branch California Aqueduct in Palmdale, Calif. in 2014

The future of America's drinking water

Naming priorities such as better land management, an evolved portfolio of 21st-century solutions and more funding for research and development, Stanford experts highlight areas central to success as the Biden-Harris administration aims its sights on safeguarding U.S. drinking water.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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