Disasters

  • What tropical countries can teach the U.K. about flood management

    Climate change has caused a change in the patterns of rainfall in the United Kingdom: rather than a procession of predictable showers, a new type of rain emerged — localized storms, dropping a lot of water in one place over a short period of time; villages and towns were overwhelmed; tropical countries have had a long experience with the type of rainfall

  • Buildings made of prefabricated straw prove to be fire-resistant

    Researchers at Bath University test panels made from prefabricated straw-bale and hemp by exposing them to temperatures over 1,000°C; to reach the required building standard, the panels had to withstand the heat for more than thirty minutes, but more than two hours later — four times as long as required — the panels had still not failed

  • Texas running out of water

    Texas’s population of about 24.3 million is expected to hit about 45.5 million by 2060, and the water supply can not come close to keeping pace; if the state were to experience major drought conditions with that many more people, officials estimate almost every Texan would be without sufficient water and there would be more than $90 billion in economic losses

  • DHS unveils critical infrastructure Web site

    Designed to provide stakeholders and the public with easily accessible information about their role in safeguarding critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR); the new CIKR Resource Center will offer information on Web-based seminars on the tools, trends, issues, and best practices for infrastructure protection and resilience; resources concerning potential vulnerabilities for chemical facilities; and guidance for all response partners on how best to prepare for and provide a unified response to disasters and emergencies

  • Oregon's bridges to be readied for the Big One

    There are 2,671 bridges in Oregon’s highway system; researchers develop a computer model which, for the first time, gives state authorities bridge-by-bridge estimates of damage, repair cost, and traffic delay costs associated with a shattering western Oregon quake; the new tool would allow engineers to prioritize which of the state’s bridges should get seismic upgrades

  • Worries about safety of California bridges with eyebar design

    Every so often the Bay Bridge closes because of widening eyebar crack; when the bridge opened seventy years ago, the design was considered safe, but structural engineers now say the eyebar design is an inherently unsafe; trouble is, dozens and dozens of California aging bridges use the flawed design

  • Bay Area cities lag in making housing quake-safe

    Many public buildings in Bay Area cities have been retrofitted to make them more earthquake-resistant; most of the two types of private homes which are especially vulnerable to damage by tremors — wood-frame, “soft-story” buildings and concrete-frame structures that lack sufficient steel reinforcement — have not yet been retrofitted

  • Interference-free radio from Cambridge Consultants

    Cambridge Consultants shows a novel “spectral sensing” cognitive radio technology that will allow any radio product to transmit without interference over the so-called “whitespace” frequencies recently vacated by the U.S. digital TV switchover

  • New Army Corps of Engineers' policy instructs project designers to take rising sea levels into account

    The Army Corps will from now on incorporate estimates of rising sea levels in all its plans for flood control, navigation, and other water projects; the corps has had a planning policy for rising sea levels since 1986, but the instructions were less than a page long, buried in a 1,000-page document and largely ignored; the new policy is articulated in a 44-page stand-alone document

  • U.K. agency to increase flood protection

    The number of properties in England and Wales at significant risk of flooding could increase from 570,000 in 2009 to over 900,000 by 2035 at current levels of flood-defense investment; the Environment Agency says it is planning for the long haul, saying it is already planning to manage a predicted 1 meter rise in sea levels, and a predicted 10 percent increase in wave heights and wind speeds, both of which will increase the threat from coastal surges

  • Army Corps of Engineers in a $1 billion project to protect New Orleans' flank

    The West Bank area of New Orleans is primed for growth, but experts warn that developers and residents should be aware of a problem: the bowl-shaped area is considered by experts as perhaps the city’s most vulnerable flank;’

  • New York receives $3 million boost for cyber security

    The funding will help New York State’s Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination (CSCIC) conduct work with the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC); the MS-ISAC is the first and only facility dedicated to state, local and territorial governments in the country and the funding is expected to enhance the center’s capabilities

  • U.S. Congress holds hearings on geoengineering

    Geoengineering — the effort to design systems which would change the world’s climate — was once a fringe phenomenon; it has been moving into the mainstream, though, as more and more scientists are growing increasingly concerned that, even if we commit to cutting emissions drastically, we have already waited too long, and that by the time we actually reduce emissions, enough greenhouse gases will have accumulated to cause serious climate disasters

  • Using technology to prepare vulnerable communities for earthquakes

    Satellite photographs and remotely measured surface heights from NASA will be used for assessing the vulnerability of natural slopes to earthquake-induced landslides; a team of U.K. scientists will also build up a database of slopes that failed in earthquakes; the information collected will include local geology, vegetation, slope angle, distance from the fault, and the amount of ground shaking

  • Israel to use cell phone alert system for rocket attacks

    The IDF says that, in two years, Israeli citizens will receive cell-phone alerts in case of a rocket attack by Iran, Hamas, or Hezbollah; sophisticated rocket sensor will calculate the trajectory of the rockets, predict the impact zone, and send a warning to all phones in that area