• Emerging threatsRisk analysis for common ground on climate loss and damage

    The Paris Agreement included groundbreaking text on the need for a mechanism to help identify risks beyond adaptation and support the victims of climate-related loss and damage — but how exactly it will work remains unclear. The question of how to deal with dangerous climate change as being experienced and perceived by developing countries and communities has been one of the most contentious questions in international climate negotiations.

  • Emerging threatsSeptember 2nd warmest on record for globe – but monthly record-warm streak ends

    August’s warmth spread into September, contributing to the warmest year to date for the globe, but not enough to continue the recent 16-month streak of record warmth. Even so, September 2016 ranked as the second warmest September on record.

  • view counter
  • DisastersThousands of people didn’t evacuate before Hurricane Matthew. Why not?

    By Jennifer Horney

    As Hurricane Matthew approached the Atlantic coast earlier this month, many residents followed orders to evaqcuate, but others stayed in place. Hurricane Matthew illustrates the challenges of managing disaster evacuations effectively. By understanding who is likely to obey or ignore evacuation orders, authorities can use data to reduce the number of false alarms and concentrate limited resources on groups who are most likely to choose to shelter in place. It is critical to grapple with these issues so we can do a better job responding to the next storm, which likely won’t be ten years away.

  • Earthquakes“Drop, Cover, and Hold On”: Worldwide ShakeOut drill to be held 20 October

    USGS scientists recently determined that nearly half of Americans are exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes based on where they work and live. Still others will be at risk when traveling. USGS asks Americans to be prepared to join millions of people from around the world participating in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills worldwide on 20 October. During the drill, participants practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” This is the recommended safety action to take during an earthquake.

  • EarthquakesSevere earthquakes cause coastal uplift, increasing seismic hazards

    A new mechanism may explain how great earthquakes with magnitudes larger than M7 are linked to coastal uplift in many regions worldwide. This has important implications for the seismic hazard and the tsunami risk along the shores of many countries. The idea is that series of severe earthquakes within a geologically short period of time cause the rising of the land where one tectonic plate slips beneath another slab of the Earth’s crust in a process called subduction.

  • Coastal resilienceImproving seawalls to strengthen coastal defenses

    Britain’s coastal defenses could be designed to better withstand storms triggered by climate change. Improving seawalls could help limit loss of life and damage to property as coastal waters become stormier over coming years. New research will help engineers design coastal defenses that are better able to stop sea water spilling over on to land — known as overtopping.

  • ResilienceCities should be made more resilient against extreme weather

    Over the past three decades, Europe has seen a 60 percent increase in extreme weather events. In Venice, there were 125 events in 2014, compared to only 35 in 1983 and 44 in 1993. Of these, seven were extreme in 2014, compared to only one in 1983. Moreover, in 2014, flooding and winter storms caused an estimated €20 billion in disruption to the economy  in the United Kingdom alone, while damage by the flash floods in Genoa amounted to €100 million.

  • FloodsNC flooding breaks more than a dozen USGS peak records

    Just days after Hurricane Matthew made its approach up the east coast, North Carolina is still feeling impacts from the storm as severe flooding has hit much of the central and eastern parts of the state. The heavy rains brought by Hurricane Matthew caused flooding that has been intensified due to rain events prior to Matthew that had many rivers across the central and eastern parts of the state already running at above normal streamflow levels. For instance, the community of Spring Lake witnessed period of record flooding in late September, only to have that peak broken again this week.

  • ResilienceImproving infrastructure resilience to withstand natural disasters

    Over the past decade, some 80 000 people have died in Europe as a result of natural disasters. EU-funded researchers have created a tool to assess the impact of natural disasters on transport infrastructure in order to save both lives and money. The tool, developed through the EU-funded INFRARISK initiative, aims to help policy makers and industry experts identify ways of improving the resilience of bridges, roads, and rail networks in the face of catastrophic events such as earthquakes, floods, and landslides.

  • Forest firesClimate change has doubled Western U.S. forest fire area

    Human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last thirty years. Scientists say that since 1984, heightened temperatures and resulting aridity have caused fires to spread across an additional 16,000 square miles than they otherwise would have — an area larger than the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. The scientists warn that further warming will increase fire exponentially in coming decades.

  • Natural disastersGrowing number of Hurricane Sandy-like storm surges in future

    In the wake of historic destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, residents of New York and other coastal cities were left wondering whether Sandy-scale storm floods are the new normal. Now, researchers have developed a computer simulation that estimates that storm-related flooding on the New York City coastline similar in scale to those seen during Sandy are likely to become more common in coming decades. The worst-case scenario has the frequency increasing by seventeen times by the year 2100.

  • Extreme weatherInvestor-owned utilities better prepared to handle catastrophic weather

    Investor-owned utility companies may be better prepared than municipal utility companies to deal with catastrophic weather conditions and subsequent power outages. One of the main arguments made in favor of municipal utilities is the alleged poor performance of investor-owned utilities after major storms. The author of a new study says, however, that “compared with investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities spend more on maintenance of power distribution lines, yet deliver worse customer service after major storms.”

  • Food & water securityEven if the Paris Agreement is implemented, food and water supplies remain at risk

    By Mark Dwortzan

    If all pledges made in last December’s Paris climate agreement (COP21) to curb greenhouse gases are carried out to the end of the century, then risks still remain for staple crops in major “breadbasket” regions and water supplies upon which most of the world’s population depend. Recognizing that national commitments made in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall far short of COP21’s overarching climate target — to limit the rise, since preindustrial times, in the Earth’s mean surface temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 — a new report advances a set of emissions scenarios that are consistent with achieving that goal.

  • Extreme weatherWhen catastrophe strikes, who foots the bill?

    By Carolin Schellhorn

    One consequence of climate change is that extreme weather events are occurring more often with the potential to cause catastrophic damage more frequently. According to the 2016 Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum, extreme weather events rank second as the most likely threat to global stability going forward. And my research on the safety and soundness of financial institutions suggests this trend may also threaten the stability of the insurance industry. Extreme weather is expensive for insurance companies and their reinsurers, communities, taxpayers, and also, potentially, capital market investors. And it’s only getting more expensive as climate change increases the frequency of storms and their severity. While more can be done to improve risk pricing and risk management, climate change mitigation is critical for our ability to continue to survive and recover from the catastrophes that lie ahead.