• Connected vehicles’ windshield wipers could help prevent flooding

    We’ve been promised all kinds of benefits from a future of connected vehicles, but flood control? One of your car’s oldest features has been put to a new, high-tech use by University of Michigan researchers. Utilizing a test fleet in the city of Ann Arbor, engineers tracked when wipers were being used and matched it with video from onboard cameras to document rainfall. They found that tracking windshield wiper activity can provide faster, more accurate rainfall data than radar and rain gauge systems we currently have in place.

  • Preparing for extreme weather

    From high winds and heavy rainfall to droughts and plummeting temperatures, people in Europe have already begun to feel the effects of extreme weather. As we get used to this new reality, scientists are investigating how it will affect how we get around and whether our infrastructure can cope.

  • Coastal wetlands need to move inland in fight against climate change

    Up to 30 percent of coastal wetlands could be lost globally as a result of rising sea levels, with a dramatic effect on global warming and coastal flooding, if action is not taken to protect them, new research warns. The global study suggests that the future of global coastal wetlands, including tidal marshes and mangroves, could be secured if they were able to migrate further inland.

  • 2018 fourth costliest year in insured losses

    2018 was the fourth-costliest year since 1980 in terms of insured losses. This was due to an accumulation of severe and costly events in the second half of the year. A comparison with the last 30 years shows that 2018 was above the inflation-adjusted overall loss average of $140bn. The figure for insured losses – $80bn – was significantly higher than the 30-year average of $41bn. 2018 therefore ranks among the ten costliest disaster years in terms of overall losses, and was the fourth-costliest year since 1980 for the insurance industry.

  • Droughts boost emissions as hydropower dries up

    Recent droughts caused increases in emissions of carbon dioxide and harmful air pollutants from power generation in several western states as fossil fuels came online to replace hampered hydroelectric power. A new study quantifies the impact.

  • Looking in wrong place when predicting tornadoes

    Historically, there have been a wide number of conflicting theories about how tornadoes form, but the most widely accepted was that they form from the top down, based on work done from the 1970s through the 1990s. For the first time, new observational evidence shows that they actually form from the ground up, which could have a profound impact on the way tornado warnings are issued in the future. It’s the first time these hypotheses have been able to be evaluated observationally, thanks to a modern radar system that collects data very rapidly.

  • Identidying U.S. volcanoes which pose the greatest threat

    The United States is one of Earth’s most volcanically active countries. Since 1980, there have been 120 eruptions and 52 episodes of notable volcanic unrest at 44 U.S. volcanoes. The updated USGS Volcanic Threat Assessment finds that 161 U.S. volcanoes pose potential threats to American lives and property, eight fewer than in 2005. The eighteen very highest threat volcanoes are in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Thirty-nine other volcanoes are high threat, 49 are moderate, 34 are low, and 21 are very low threat.

  • Fault displacement “fingerprints” helps forecast magnitude of rupture

    Machine-learning research helps detect seismic signals accurately, allowing them to predict the Cascadia fault’s slow slippage, a type of failure observed to precede large earthquakes in other subduction zones.

  • “Pause” in global warming was never real, new research proves

    Claims of a “pause” in observed global temperature warming are comprehensively disproved in a pair of new studies published this week. An international team of climate researchers reviewed existing data and studies and reanalyzed them. They concluded there has never been a statistically significant “pause” in global warming. This conclusion holds whether considering the “pause” as a change in the rate of warming in observations or as a mismatch in rate between observations and expectations from climate models.

  • Evidence supporting regulation of greenhouse gases stronger than ever: Scientists

    Sixteen prominent climate scientists argue that there is more reason than ever for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases, at the same time some politicians are pushing the EPA to reverse its 2009 decision to do so.

  • VitalTag to give vital information in mass casualty incidents

    When mass casualty incidents occur — shootings, earthquakes, multiple car pile ups — first responders can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer number of victims. When every second counts, monitoring all the victims in a chaotic situation can be difficult. Researchers developed a stick-on sensor that measures and tracks a patient’s vital signs to help first responders quickly triage, treat and transport the injured.

  • Foldable drone flies through narrow passages in rescue missions

    Researchers have developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

  • Midwest at risk: Big-picture look at climate change impact on U.S. agriculture

    A new study shows that Midwest agriculture is increasingly vulnerable to climate change because of the region’s reliance on growing rain-fed crops. The researchers set out to assess the impact extreme weather is having on agricultural productivity in the United States. While previous studies have looked at the vulnerability of individual field crops, which make up one-third of the country’s agricultural output, researchers haven’t addressed the whole scope of agricultural production, including livestock, at the national level.

  • Forecast-based financing for flash floods

    Forecasts are increasingly used to help reduce the impacts of floods in vulnerable communities. Not all floods are created equal, however. Flash floods are one of the most deadly types on a global scale. While early warning and early action systems for slow-onset floods (from rivers, for example) have improved significantly over the past fifty years, efforts to create a comparable system for flash floods has lagged behind. Forecast-based Financing (FbF) is a mechanism that releases early humanitarian funding based on in-depth forecast information and risk analysis.

  • Friendly electromagnetic pulse improves survival for electronics

    An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, emitted by a nuclear weapon exploded high above the United States could disable the electronic circuits of many devices vital to military defense and modern living. These could include complicated weapon systems as well as phones, laptops, credit cards and car computers. Also, in trouble might be home appliances, gas station pumps and bank accounts. Military equipment – and some civilian equipment, too — are designed to be immune to various levels of EMP, and the validity of these designs has been tested and improved by a “friendly” EMP generator installed in a recently renovated facility at Sandia National Laboratories.