Nearly three quarters of the earth is covered by ocean. Marine environments play an essential role in regulating climate and weather systems, as well as providing food, employment and transportation for people. The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment seeks to manage and mitigate society’s impact on the sea by developing new insights into issues ranging from ocean acidification and sea level rise to overfishing and industrial pollution. Woods supports the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS), where science, engineering and policy experts develop solutions to address ocean threats and prepare leaders to take on those challenges. Woods-affiliated researchers are informing decisions that lead to healthy marine ecosystems and vibrant coastal communities.


Finding Coral Solutions

Stanford scientists affiliated with COS were on an international team that surveyed more than 6,000 coral reefs across the globe, and discovered 15 places where coral health and fish populations were unexpectedly improving, thanks in part to human intervention. The study was published in the journal Nature. According to a study led by Rob Dunbar, the W.M. Keck Professor in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, blowing tiny bubbles through seawater could help protect coral reefs and oyster farms from increasingly acidic oceans by transferring carbon dioxide from coastal marine environments and to the atmosphere. Read more.

Connecting Climate and Oceans

In the lead-up to the climate talks in Paris, COS experts explained why reducing greenhouse gas emissions is vital to protecting oceans and the critical resources these ecosystems provide to human society. Read more and watch video.

Informing Tuna Conservation

Nearly 200 scientists and stakeholders gathered for the Bluefin Futures Symposium in Monterey to discuss the plight of the bluefin tuna, whose population has dropped nearly 97 percent from historic levels due to overfishing. Stanford scientists in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration devised a new methodology for measuring how and when ocean predators consume prey and identifying the Pacific bluefin tuna's preferred feeding locations to inform conservation strategies. Read more.

Guiding Deep-Sea Mining

Demand for valuable metals and rare-earth minerals has spiked interest in mining the deep-sea floor. In a study published in the journal Science, COS researchers and others proposed creating networks of Marine Protected Areas to balance commercial extraction of deep-sea resources with protection of diverse seabed habitats. This research informed the 21st Annual Session of the International Seabed Authority, which sets the groundwork for deep-sea environmental protection and mining regulations. Read more.

Combatting Ocean Acidification

Clare Boothe Luce Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alexandria Boehm co-chaired the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, which addresses oceans’ absorption of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and subsequent loss of oxygen causing deleterious effects to marine life. The panel focuses on research, and recommends real-world policy solutions to combat this dire challenge. Read more.


Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor in Marine Sciences Barbara Block received the Benchley Award for Excellence in Science for her groundbreaking research using satellite tagging data to track marine life. William Alden Campbell & Martha Campbell Professor in the School of Engineering Jeff Koseff received the 2015 Richard W. Lyman Award from the Stanford Alumni Association. Koseff has spoken at alumni events all around the world on pressing environmental issues such as marine ecosystem health. Read more.

On Camera

Solutions for Sea Change: Protecting our Ocean from Climate Change

In this follow-up to the recent COS video "A Time for Sea Change", ocean experts from Stanford University, Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey Bay Aquarium, MBARI, and Center for Ocean Solutions weigh in on how we can protect ocean ecosystems from climate change impacts, citing examples from Monterey Bay and beyond.

Discovering Ancient Forests of the Deep Ocean

What lies at the bottom of the ocean? In this lecture Professor Rob Dunbar explores the ocean floor and shares what it tells us about the environment.

In The News

‘Shark Week’ Caps Off With Monterey Bay Episode, Shot by Sharks and Drone

Discusses work of Senior Fellow Barbara Block (Biology) to monitor the western coast of North America using electronic tags on marine predators.
June 29, 2016 - By Kara Guzman, Santa Cruz Sentinel

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Can Virtual Reality Emerge As a Tool for Conservation?

New advances in technology are sparking efforts to use virtual reality to help people gain a deeper appreciation of environmental challenges. VR...
June 27, 2016 - By Heather MIllar, Yale environment 360

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Coral Reefs Doing Better Than Expected

Discusses Center for Ocean Solutions co-authored study in Nature about coral reef 'bright spots'.
June 15, 2016 - By Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic

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Ocean 'Dandruff' a New Tool for Marine Biologists

Describes innovative eDNA project, funded in part by a Woods EVP grant, that could help track rare & endangered marine species.
June 2, 2016 - By Emily Benson, San Jose Mercury News

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