Stanford faculty across disciplines are exploring the science of climate change and seeking solutions

Stanford faculty across disciplines are investigating the causes and effects of a warming planet and seeking new ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through green energy technologies. These faculty members and other campus scholars have also participated in efforts to guide climate policy at the state, federal and international level. And the work is not just of academic interest. The campus has earned national recognition for its clean energy efforts, with more than 65 percent of all campus electricity coming from renewable sources.

Vintage film reveals Antarctic glacier melting

Newly available archival film has revealed the eastern ice shelf of Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is melting faster than previous estimates, suggesting the shelf may collapse sooner than expected.

Gauging trees’ potential to slow global warming

By analyzing decades of experiments, the researchers mapped the potential of carbon dioxide to increase forest biomass by the end of the century, when atmospheric concentrations of the gas could nearly double. This, in turn, will enable plants and trees to store more carbon.

Does climate change cause armed conflict?

As global temperatures climb, the risk of armed conflict is expected to increase substantially, according to experts across several fields. Extreme weather and related disasters can damage economies, lower farming production and intensify inequality.

Is the health care system ready for climate change?

Stanford medical student Dan Bernstein challenges health care professionals to take steps to mitigate and respond to climate change.

Climate change has worsened global economic inequality

The gap between the economic output of the world’s richest and poorest countries is 25 percent larger today than it would have been without global warming.

The climate of health

The damage we do to the world around us is eventually visited upon us in the form of hunger, mental health, thirst, disease and other health issues. Here we explore a few of those health consequences.

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.

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.

Counterintuitive climate solution

Cattle are among the agricultural and industrial emitters of methane, a powerful driver of global warming. Stanford researchers have outlined a seemingly counterintuitive approach to removing the gas from the atmosphere.

How does poor air quality affect your health?

Asthma and pollution expert Mary Prunicki discusses the physical and mental effects of unhealthy air due to wildfire smoke.

Finding the pulse of the polar vortex

A new analysis of how air moves between two layers of Earth’s atmosphere reveals a deep system that could enable long-term weather forecasts and better climate models.

Q&A: Tracking the history of El Niño

With the recent forecast of El Niño as a high possibility this winter, a Stanford researcher weighs in on how reconstructing past weather events using coral reefs can help demystify this complex phenomenon.

Measuring crude oil’s carbon footprint

Stanford researchers’ comprehensive new assessment of climate emissions from crude oil production suggests avoiding the most carbon-intensive reservoirs and better management of natural gas could dramatically slash emissions.

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.

Drying Canadian wetland drives muskrat decline

Over the last half-century, Canada’s Peace-Athabasca Delta has been slowly drying out. A new study shows this loss of habitat is likely responsible for the decline of semi-aquatic muskrat, and could have larger implications.

Is climate change fueling the spread of Lyme disease? A podcast

During a podcast, the author of "Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change" talks about the growing worldwide threat of this disease and the urgent need for more research into treatment and prevention.

Cash, carbon, crude: How to make oil fields bury emissions

A new analysis looks at what it would take for oil companies to start pumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide into their wells to boost crude production – and what it would mean for the climate.

Q&A with Steve Palumbi on saving coral

Heeding a growing call for action, a committee of scientists scrutinized every tool available to save coral reefs and described a wealth of possibilities.

Climate change, overharvesting may doom a pricey parasite

Stanford researchers show how warmer winters and booming demand for one of the world’s most expensive medicinal species may hurt ecosystems and communities in the Himalayas.

Polar vortex: The science behind the cold

An atmospheric scientist discusses how the polar vortex works, what drives its behavior and why it seems to bring storms and bitter cold more frequently than in past decades.

Hot, dry years will hit many regions simultaneously

Odds are rising that warm, dry conditions – the kind that can hurt crop yields, destabilize food prices and exacerbate wildfires – will strike multiple regions at once. A new Stanford study shows just how much the risk is increasing.

Virtual reality aids in environmental education

Stanford researchers took a virtual reality experience into a variety of educational settings, including high school classrooms, to test the impact on awareness and understanding of ocean acidification.

Global carbon dioxide emissions rise as coal wanes, renewables boom

Renewable energy capacity has hit record levels and global coal use may have already peaked. But the world's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased in 2018, and the trend places global warming targets in jeopardy.  

It’s in the genes – potential hope for pikas hit by climate change

As climate change drives mountain-dwelling pikas to higher altitudes, the animals can dial certain genes up or down to make the most of their cooler home’s limited oxygen.

Warming temperatures linked to increased suicide rates

By comparing historical temperature and suicide data, researchers found a strong correlation between warm weather and increased suicides. They estimate climate change could lead to suicide rate increases across the U.S. and Mexico.

Scientists find missing piece in glacier melt predictions

A new method for observing water within ice has revealed stored meltwater that may explain the complex flow behavior of some Greenland glaciers, an important component for predicting sea-level rise in a changing climate.

Finding an effective, low-cost, and fair U.S. climate policy

Stanford economics Professor Larry Goulder discusses the tradeoffs of federal climate policy options and finds ways to enhance both societal health and economic benefits.

Reducing emissions could save trillions

Stanford scientists found that the global economy is likely to benefit from ambitious global warming limits agreed to in the United Nations Paris Agreement.

Global Climate Action Summit: A focus on kids and climate

At the Global Climate Action Summit recently, Stanford researchers emphasized the importance of the effects of climate change on children's health.

Coastal resilience linked to national security

Storm season is upon us, the federal flood insurance plan is broken and sea level rise continues unabated. Stanford climate and policy experts Alice Hill and Katharine Mach look at issues related to rising seas with an eye toward increasing resilience and security.

Poll shows consensus for climate policy remains strong

A new study shows that Americans overwhelmingly want a reduction in global warming and support renewable energy development. But according to the data, Americans don’t realize how many people share their beliefs.

Risk of extreme weather events higher if Paris Agreement goals aren’t met

The Paris Agreement has aspirational goals of limiting temperature rise that won’t be met by current commitments. That difference could make the world another degree warmer and considerably more prone to extreme weather.

Kidney stones most likely to affect residents of warm, wet regions

Kidney stones are more common in warm, wet regions. Stanford urology resident Kai Dallas offers a possible explanation.

Organic carbon can resist breakdown in underground environments

A new study reveals that organic matter whose breakdown would yield only minimal energy for hungry microorganisms preferentially builds up in floodplains, illuminating a new mechanism of carbon sequestration.

Disrupting sensitive soils could worsen climate change

Global warming and land use practices, such as farming, could change the environment for microbes living in the soil and alter the amount of greenhouse gases they release into the atmosphere.

Extreme droughts projected to increase in Jordan

Jordan is among the world’s most water-poor nations, and a new, comprehensive analysis of regional drought and land-use changes in upstream Syria suggests the conditions could get significantly worse.

Why we should care that climate change is making us sick

Environmental changes are making people sick and urgent action is needed, Paul Auerbach and Jay Lemery write in the new book "Enviromedics."

Soil holds potential to slow global warming

The land under our feet and the plant matter it contains could offset a significant amount of carbon emissions if managed properly. More research is needed to unlock soil’s potential to mitigate global warming, improve crop yields and increase resilience to extreme weather.

Sociologist probes lack of grassroots climate change activism

Sociologist Doug McAdam examined 40 years of research and theory on social movements in an attempt to determine why a sustained grassroots movement on climate change has not developed in the United States.

Q&A with climate experts on Paris Agreement decision

The president announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Four Stanford scholars discuss the implications of this decision.

Sustainable Stanford

Sustaining Earth’s resources is ingrained in the way Stanford educates students, conducts research and operates its buildings.

How can the world manage a historic climate agreement?

Stanford climate expert comments on opportunities and obstacles for advancing the Paris Agreement, an ambitious global climate pact that recently went into force.

Stanford experts weigh in on the impact and influence of California’s global warming legislation

The new bill SB32 will extend and expand targets for emissions cuts, putting the Golden State at the forefront of global efforts to lessen and adapt to impacts of climate change.

Action is needed to make stagnant carbon dioxide emissions fall

2016 marked the third year in a row when global CO2 emissions remained relatively flat, but actual declines won’t materialize without advances in technology and growth in renewables.

Is carbon removal technology a high-stakes gamble?

Stanford scientists explain the risks of betting the world’s future on massive-scale deployment of carbon removal technologies.

Stanford issues statement on climate change ahead of Paris conference

With an international conference on climate change approaching, Stanford issues a call for global leaders to look to universities for solutions – and highlights steps Stanford has taken to implement sustainable practices.

How will the election affect policy toward the environment?

Seven Stanford energy and environmental policy scholars – Rob Jackson, Charles Kolstad, Deborah Sivas, Noah Diffenbaugh, Chris Field, Katharine Mach and John Weyant – suggest what a Donald Trump presidency could mean for such issues as U.S. participation in international agreements, environmental regulation and the Keystone Pipeline.

Stanford expert suggests focusing on shared values rather than climate change

Instead of talking about the polarized topic of climate change, Stanford Earth scientist Rob Jackson suggests focusing on the shared benefits of addressing the problem, including job creation, health and safety.

Report details how to reduce impact of climate change on human health

A Stanford report last fall offered wide-ranging recommendations to the new president of the United States for mitigating the grave effects of climate change on human health.

New study calls for U.S. solar policy reform

Stanford researchers suggest reforming U.S. solar policies and encourage closer collaboration between the United States and China on solar energy in a new report.

Heavy California rains par for the course for climate change

Stanford climatologist Noah Diffenbaugh explains why heavy rains during a drought are to be expected for a state in the throes of climate change.

Stefan Reichelstein: Paris may be the last best chance on climate change

As global leaders get down to final negotiations in Paris on a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, skeptics have been vocal on all sides.

The moral element of climate change

Stanford doctoral candidate Blake Francis hopes to create a framework that governments could use to evaluate their climate change policies and consider when it’s morally justified for them to emit greenhouse gases.

Stanford scientists test links between extreme weather and climate change

A new four-step framework aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.

Keeping communities out of harm’s way in a changing climate

Based on examples from around the world, researchers chart the landscape for whether and how to implement the strategy of managed retreat – relocation or abandonment of development in the face of extreme weather risks.

Stanford engineers set record for capturing and storing solar energy in hydrogen fuel

Stanford scientists used the electricity generated by high-efficiency solar cells to turn water into a chemical capable of storing 30 percent of the sun’s energy over long periods of time.

What is the future for energy policies?

Stanford faculty members Burton Richter, Dan Reicher and Frank Wolak, who are experts in energy policy, law and infrastructure, discuss the future of energy under a Donald Trump presidency.

What is sustainability? A conversation with Stanford Earth Dean Pamela Matson

Sustainability efforts today are critical to meet the needs of people now and over the long term, and Stanford has a leadership role.

Exercising leadership on climate change: Choices for the next U.S. president

In the year leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Stanford scholars led by former Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes have collaborated through the Climate Change Implementation Project to gather policy and governance ideas for how the next president of the United States might address climate change at the outset of his or her presidency.

Battery electric cars are a better choice for reducing emissions than fuel cell vehicles, Stanford study finds

A study of energy use in a community near Stanford finds that all-electric battery vehicles offer a more affordable way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions than cars powered by hydrogen.

Al Gore: Business will drive progress on climate change

The former vice president talks about investing in the transition to a sustainable economy.

Stanford engineers create a low-cost battery for storing renewable energy

A new low-cost, high-performance battery could provide an inexpensive storage solution for solar power, which is abundant during the day but must be stored for use at night.  

Climate change – there’s still time to act: Noah Diffenbaugh at TEDxStanford

Professor Diffenbaugh studies the climate system, including the extreme events that affect agriculture, water resources and human health.