• Rising seasAs melting of Greenland ice sheet intensifies, sea level rise accelerates

    A new study says that the pace of sea level rise has increased significantly over the past quarter-century, with the thawing of Greenland’s ice sheet playing a major role in the steady rise of the oceans. The study said that Greenland’s ice sheet accounted for more than 25 percent of sea level rise in 2014, compared to just 5 percent in 1993.

  • Rising seasRising seas could create 2 billion refugees by 2100

    In the year 2100, 2 billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to new research. Feeding that population will require more arable land even as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas, driving people to seek new places to dwell.

  • Coastal perilNew subsidence map highlights sinking Louisiana coast

    Researchers at Tulane University have developed a subsidence map of coastal Louisiana, putting the rate at which this region is sinking at just over one third of an inch per year. The map, published in GSA Today, has long been considered the “holy grail” by researchers and policy makers as they look for solutions to the coastal wetland loss crisis, the researchers said.

  • Emerging threatsClimate can rapidly change at tipping points

    A new study shows that gradual changes in the atmospheric CO2 concentration can induce abrupt climate changes. During the last glacial period, within only a few decades, the influence of atmospheric CO2 on the North Atlantic circulation resulted in temperature increases of up to 10 degrees Celsius in Greenland – as indicated by new climate calculations from researchers.

  • FloodsAmerica’s most vulnerable communities

    Floods are the natural disaster that kill the most people. They are also the most common natural disaster. As the threat of flooding increases worldwide, scientists have gathered valuable information on flood hazard, exposure and vulnerability in counties throughout the United States. Urban development has declined in coastal flood zones in general across the United States, but development in flood zones in inland counties has grown.

  • EarthquakesDecision to defund the Earthquake Early Warning system criticized

    The Trump administration’s decision to defund the Earthquake Early Warning system is being criticized by experts. The “administration’s failure to fund the Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system threatens this vital program and potentially the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people on the West Coast from California to Alaska,” says one expert.

  • EarthquakesDissipating earthquakes to provide earthquake protection

    Earthquakes and explosions damage thousands of structures worldwide each year, destroying countless lives in their wake, but a team of researchers at Penn State is examining a completely new way of safeguarding key infrastructure.“The structural design for earthquakes now requires the whole building to shake, which you can design for, but it’s quite an expensive proposition. Our idea is that if you can dissipate the earthquake before it gets to the structure, then you don’t have to design it to resist that ground motion,” says one researcher.

  • HeatwavesDeadly heatwaves on the rise

    Seventy-four percent of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2100 if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, according to a new study. Even if emissions are aggressively reduced, the percent of the world’s human population affected is expected to reach 48 percent. “We are running out of choices for the future,” says one expert. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible.”

  • Man-made earthquakesFeeling the impact of fracking

    By Colleen Walsh

    Fracking involves drilling holes deep into layers of subterranean shale and then pumping in millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals to release oil and natural gas trapped in the rock. In some shale formations, a large volume of toxic water comes up along with the hydrocarbons. The injection of the wastewater from the process back into the earth can trigger seismic activity, scientists say. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there were approximately 26,000 hydraulically fractured wells for natural gas in the United States in 2000. By 2015, the number had grown to 300,000. Researchers are studying the link between fracking and earthquakes

  • Tunnel plugsInflatable plug for subway tunnels demonstrated

    A giant, inflatable structure designed to prevent flooding in subways was rolled out, literally, for media observers inside a full-scale, mock subway tunnel. In a demonstration, the plug, in under five minutes, nearly filled with pressurized air, created a flexible but extremely strong barrier. Full inflation is complete in less than twelve minutes.

  • HurricanesMore capable hurricane decision support platform helps emergency managers

    Hurricane Matthew was one of the first operational uses of DHS’s S&T HURREVAC-eXtended (HV-X) platform. The HV-X platform integrates forecast and planning data to provide emergency managers decision support tools for use in advance of and during tropical weather. Development began in 2013 and since then, S&T identified the need for a comprehensive hurricane decision platform that encompassed all phases of planning and evacuations. Collaborating with FEMA, S&T worked to streamline the currently available HURREVAC storm tracking and decision platform. The result of this collaboration is HV-X.

  • Nuclear warWhy there’s no modern guide to surviving a nuclear war

    By John Preston

    The risk of thermonuclear war has rarely been greater. But despite the growing threat, the general public are less prepared than they ever have been to cope with an attack. Time is short – but the United Kingdom is not ready. In May 1980, the government created a series of public information films, radio broadcasts, and the booklet Protect and Survive. But the effort was mocked, and the government abandoned to effort. The failure of Protect and Survive is the reason the United Kingdom doesn’t have public information on how to prepare for a nuclear war today. There are good reasons for keeping us unaware. Releasing guidance may cause anxiety and even make other countries suspicious that our preparations are a sign that we intend to strike first. On the other hand, if the government does intend to issue information at the last minute then it is taking a huge risk as to whether it can get the advice out in time. If an accidental launch, or an unexpected first strike, occurs then there may be no time. Maybe now is the right time to buy that reprinted copy of Protect and Survive – just in case.

  • Coastal perilProtective value of mangroves for coastlines

    The threat to coastal regions posed by climate change, overdevelopment and other human caused stressors is well-established. Among the most prized and valuable land throughout the world, shorelines everywhere are imperiled by sea level rise, beach erosion and flooding. But a recently published NASA-funded research study has discovered a new, natural phenomenon that could offer an economic and ecological solution to coastal wetland protection—the spread of mangrove trees.

  • Food & securityCapable governments more important than weather in preventing food scarcity-related violence

    While climate change is expected to lead to more violence related to food scarcity, new research suggests that the strength of a country’s government plays a vital role in preventing uprisings. While previous studies had examined the impact of climate change-induced weather patterns on violence and the increased danger of violence in weak or failing states, this is the first study to demonstrate that the combination of the two risk factors is even more dangerous than they would be separately.

  • Planetary securityAnnual Taurids meteor shower may be hiding asteroids capable of wiping out entire continents

    Each year, from the end of October, the skies light up in what is called “nature’s fireworks” — the annual Taurids meteor shower which lights up the night sky with hundreds of fireballs. Scientists say that next time, this spectacular shower could be hiding doomsday asteroids. The scientists are warning that the cosmic fragments of ice and rock could be large enough to wipe out whole continents. Researchers predict that one of these fragments could hit Earth in 2022, 2025, 2032, or 2039. The biggest ever documented explosion occurred in Siberia on 20 June 1908. Known as the Tunguska event, the blast –with a force of 185 Hiroshima bombs — happened after Taurids meteor shower lighted up the Siberian sky.