• ResilienceResilience through partnership

    In the aftermath of 2017’s devastating Atlantic hurricane season, and of Hurricane Maria in particular, the lessons learned in emergency response planning and recovery have been a central focus for agencies, contractors and utilities supporting the recovery in Puerto Rico. The 2018 Resilience Week Conference, which will be held 20-23 August in Denver, Colorado, aims to facilitate more inter-agency conversation on the subject of resilience.

  • Social media & disastersImproving disaster response through Twitter data

    Twitter data could give disaster relief teams real-time information to provide aid and save lives, thanks to a new algorithm developed by an international team of researchers. “The best source to get timely information during a disaster is social media, particularly microblogs like Twitter,” said one researcher. “Newspapers have yet to print and blogs have yet to publish, so Twitter allows for a near real-time view of an event from those impacted by it.”

  • Social networks & disastersHow your social network could save you from a natural disaster

    By Daniel P. Aldrich and Danaë Metaxa

    Many communities that are vulnerable to natural disasters put a lot of resources into providing residents with early warnings. Traditionally, much emphasis has been placed on the role of physical infrastructure preparedness during crisis. But in light of findings from our research about the importance of social capital during crises, our team wanted to better illuminate human behavior during these events.

  • WildfiresAll wildfires are not alike, but the U.S. is fighting them that way

    By Stephen Pyne

    Every major fire rekindles another round of commentaries about “America’s wildfire problem.” But the fact is that our nation does not have a fire problem. It has many fire problems, and they require different strategies. Some problem fires have technical solutions, some demand cultural calls. All are political.

  • Coastal challengesRising sea levels could cost the world $14 trillion a year by 2100

    Failure to meet the United Nations’ 2ºC warming limits will lead to sea level rise and dire global economic consequences, new research has warned. The study calculated that flooding from rising sea levels could cost $14 trillion worldwide annually by 2100, if the target of holding global temperatures below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels is missed.

  • Climate threatsJune 2018 ranks third warmest on record for U.S.

    Hot temperatures continued to bake the United States last month, making it the third warmest June on record. We are halfway through 2018 and the United States has already experienced $6-billion-dollar weather disasters.

  • Search & rescueBeaver-inspired robot navigates rough terrain

    A beaver-inspired robot uses new self-learning algorithms to navigate an obstacle-rich terrain —randomly placed rocks, bricks, and broken bits of concrete — which simulates an environment after a disaster such as a tornado or earthquake.

  • Coastal perilSea level rise and coastal development: Science speaks directly to business

    By Bill Chaisson

    If you are an investor or a developer with an interest in coastal properties, you are being bombarded with evidence of climate change in the form of sea level rise and its consequences. In the academic community, many interested in the business of coastal development have begun to take into account information from climate scientists and have expressed frustration that government regulators are not doing so.

  • Cloud conspiracySnow Job: Iran accuses its enemies of “stealing clouds” to create drought

    A senior Iranian official has accused Iran’s foreign enemies, including Israel, of modifying the weather in the country in order to create drought. “Foreigners are suspected of intervening in the country’s climate,” Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, a subdivision of the armed forces, said on 2 July in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

  • First respondersVR tech to help understand, ease the cognitive overload on first responders

    First responders’ lives depend on their ability to navigate structures during an emergency — a task researchers hope to make easier by using virtual reality technology to help understand cognitive overload, which occurs when smoke, fire, and stress combine to thwart a first responder’s sense of direction.

  • Resilience3 reasons why the U.S. is vulnerable to big disasters

    By Morten Wendelbo

    During the 2017 disaster season, three severe hurricanes devastated large parts of the U.S. The quick succession of major disasters made it obvious that such large-scale emergencies can be a strain, even in one of the world’s richest countries. Why do some countries better withstand and respond to disasters? The factors are many and diverse, but three major ones stand out because they are within the grasp of the federal and local governments: where and how cities grow; how easily households can access critical services during disaster; and the reliability of the supply chains for critical goods. For all three of these factors, the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. In many ways, Americans are becoming more vulnerable by the day.

  • ResilienceFacing “a new era of catastrophes,” book by Wharton profs offers tips for business leaders

    By Lauren Hertzler

    Wharton’s Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem’s recent book Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies are Coping with Disruption dives into the ways top companies have rebounded after their own worst-case scenarios. “The ‘unthinkable’ has gone from not being on anyone’s radar screen to now being central,” says Useem. “But to think about it, you need tools, and wisdom.”

  • Planetary securityMeteoroid explodes over Russian city without warning

    A meteoroid exploded over the city of Lipetsk in western Russia last week without warning, lighting up the summer sky with a bright flash. While some enjoyed the light show, others are worried that we didn’t see it coming. The danger from an incoming asteroid of that size – about 15 feet wide — isn’t that it will crush buildings or people (although falling meteorites have occasionally done that), but the shock wave from the explosion, which can be comparable to a small nuclear explosion.

  • WildfiresWarming climate would make wildfire-prone homes uninsurable

    Nine months after the October 2017destructive Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, the process of reconstruction has begun. Experts question the prudence of rebuilding in some of the burnt-out areas in light of existing fire hazard and predictions of how the warming climate will fuel more frequent and severe wildfires in the western United States.

  • EarthquakesNew simulations show potential impact of major quakes by building location, size

    With unprecedented resolution, scientists and engineers are simulating precisely how a large-magnitude earthquake along the Hayward Fault would affect different locations and buildings across the San Francisco Bay Area. Researchers are leveraging powerful supercomputers to portray the impact of high-frequency ground motion on thousands of representative different-sized buildings spread out across the California region.