Earth Sciences

Clean air boosts crop yields

A Stanford-led study estimates pollution reductions between 1999 and 2019 contributed to about 20 percent of the increase in U.S. corn and soybean yield gains during that period – an amount worth about $5 billion per year.

Venus mission

Much about Earth’s closest planetary neighbor, Venus, remains a mystery. Algorithms and techniques pioneered by Stanford Professor Howard Zebker’s research group will help to guide a search for active volcanoes and tectonic plate movements as part of a recently announced NASA mission to Venus.

What causes earthquake foreshocks?

Because foreshocks precede larger quakes, they have long presented the tantalizing prospect of warning of potentially damaging earthquakes. But to date, they have only been recognized in hindsight, and scientists for decades have sought to understand the physical processes that drive them. Computer modeling by Stanford geophysicists finds answers in the complex geometry of faults.

Finding the ‘sweet spots’ for managed aquifer recharge

Rapidly worsening drought and a mandate to bring aquifer withdrawals and deposits into balance by 2040 have ignited interest in replenishing California groundwater through managed aquifer recharge. Stanford scientists demonstrate a new way to assess sites for this type of project using soil measurements and a geophysical system towed by an all-terrain vehicle.

Reinventing concrete

As the most-used building material on the planet and one of the world’s largest industrial contributors to global warming, concrete has long been a target for reinvention. Stanford scientists say replacing one of concrete’s main ingredients with volcanic rock could slash carbon emissions from manufacture of the material by nearly two-thirds.

Airborne radar reveals groundwater beneath glacier

Researchers have detected groundwater beneath a glacier in Greenland for the first time using airborne radar data. If applicable to other glaciers and ice sheets, the technique could allow for more accurate predictions of future sea-level rise.

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.

Can extreme melt destabilize ice sheets?

Researchers have deciphered a trove of data that shows one season of extreme melt can reduce the Greenland Ice Sheet’s capacity to store future meltwater – and increase the likelihood of future melt raising sea levels.