• Bill Would Prohibit Use of Nukes against Hurricanes

    Last August, President Trump repeatedly asked DHS experts and other top national security officials to consider using nuclear bombs to weaken, destroy, or change the direction of hurricanes. The idea is not new, but it has been dismissed by experts. NOAA says that the energy released by nuclear weapons pales in comparison to the energy released by a typical hurricane, which the NOAA describes as comparable to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding “every 20 minutes.” While the detonation of even several nuclear bombs would not weaken a hurricane or change its direction, experts note that the radioactive fallout released downwind could have catastrophic impacts for people and the environment.

  • Researchers Find Commonalities in All Crises

    Generals are often accused of preparing to fight the last war. How about emergency managers and those entrusted with setting up contingency plans for the next crisis? In the aftermath of a crisis, it is always easy to see how the crisis could have been better handled, and then we put new measures into place. But do these measures set us up to solve the next crisis – the one we don’t yet know about?

  • Mangrove Trees May Disappear by 2050 Due to Sea-Level Rise

    Mangrove forests store large amounts of carbon and  help protect coastlines, but mangrove trees – valuable coastal ecosystems found in Florida and other warm climates – won’t survive sea-level rise by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced.

  • Heightened Risks When Pandemic and Hurricane Season Overlap

    Researchers studying the ability of coastal communities to respond to disasters say that combined disasters may make community recovery vastly more difficult. What they have found serves as a stark warning to policymakers preparing for hurricane season during a pandemic. One of the main worries is that there will be significant delays in recovery efforts if front-line workers are not kept healthy.

  • A Step Closer to Being Able to Forecast Earthquakes

    Scientists identify specific conditions that cause tectonic plates to slowly creep underneath one another rather than generate potentially catastrophic earthquakes. This could potentially contribute to solving one of the greatest challenges that faces seismologists, which is to be able to forecast earthquakes with enough precision to save lives and reduce the economic damage that is caused.

  • Search-and-Rescue Algorithm Identifies Hidden “Traps” in Ocean Waters

    When an object or person goes missing at sea, the complex, constantly changing conditions of the ocean can confound and delay critical search-and-rescue operations. Now researchers have developed a technique they hope will help first responders quickly zero in on regions of the sea where missing objects or people are likely to be.

  • COVID-19 Highlights the Need to Plan for Joint Disasters

    June 1 is the official start of hurricane season in the U.S., and scientists are predicting a particularly active season, including more major hurricanes. We have also entered the time of year when floods, heat waves and wildfires occur more often. Over the longer term, climate change is causing more frequent extreme weather events. Rising temperatures also exacerbate the spread of disease and could make pandemics more difficult to control in the future. Considering that most risk studies in the past have been focused on single events, is the U.S. prepared to deal with the possibility of extreme weather events as well as a pandemic?

  • Latest Climate Models Show More Intense Droughts to Come

    New analysis shows southwestern Australia and parts of southern Australia will see longer and more intense droughts due to a lack of rainfall caused by climate change.

  • Do Two Failed Dams Foretell a Dire Future?

    Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme rainfall events and hence the risk for filling and overtopping dams, which is the predominant mechanism of dam failure. However, using climate change as a bogeyman for aging infrastructure failure is an unfortunate trend, since it takes attention away from an urgent and potentially fixable problem.

  • When Dams Cause More Problems Than They Solve, Removing Them Can Pay Off for People and Nature

    Across the United States, dams generate hydroelectric power, store water for drinking and irrigation, control flooding and create recreational opportunities such as slack-water boating and waterskiing. But dams can also threaten public safety, especially if they are old or poorly maintained.

  • But It’s a Dry Heat: Climate Change and the Aridification of North America

    Discussions of drought often center on the lack of precipitation. But among climate scientists, the focus is shifting to include the growing role that warming temperatures are playing as potent drivers of greater aridity and drought intensification.

  • Disaster Responders Grapple with Planning for Extreme Weather in the Time of COVID-19

    Last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above-normal 2020 hurricane season, with the possibility of three to six major hurricanes this summer looming over millions of Americans. In Michigan, record rainfall caused two dams to fail in quick succession, triggering an evacuation of over 10,000 nearby residents. In the time of COVID-19, crowding into an emergency shelter with thousands of others seems unsafe, if not impossible.

  • The USGS Prepares to Respond During the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

    The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season starts1 June, and the U.S. Geological Survey says it is prepared to provide science that can help guide efforts to protect lives and property if a major storm makes landfall this season. USGS brings many capabilities to help communities deal with hurricanes: the ability to forecast coastal change; track storm surge, river and stream levels and flow; capture high-resolution ground elevation and topographic data; create detailed maps that can be used by disaster teams responding in the aftermath of storms; and measure coastal and inland flooding across entire regions.

  • Wildfires New Algorithm Predicts the Difficulty in Fighting Fire

    When facing an uncontrolled fire blazing through hundreds of hectares, many questions arise that need urgent answers: Where should we start? What place presents less difficulty? What areas are already lost? How can we prioritize management tasks? Researchers have developed an algorithm which is able to respond to these questions and has turned mathematics into a real ally for firefighting.

  • Rising Tide: Seeking Solutions to S.C.’s Mounting Nuisance Floods

    While a rising tide may lift all boats, it spells trouble for South Carolina coastal communities where flooding has already long been a fact of life. Low-lying areas such as the state’s more than 2,000 miles of coastline are increasingly prone to floods and storm surge as sea levels rise — driven by a more variable global climate system. Researchers are examining green solutions to help those communities fight back.