Disasters

  • Artificial tornadoes created to test Japanese homes

    Japan suffers from many natural disasters, and over the past few years the number of tornados hitting the country has been on the rise; researchers have built a tornado simulator which can generate maximum wind velocity of 15 to 20 meters per second, enough to simulate an F3-size storm; on Japan’s Fujita Scale, an F3 storm is one powerful enough to uproot large trees, lift and hurl cars, knock down walls, and destroy steel-frame structures

  • It's official: asteroids did kill the dinosaurs

    The prevailing scientific consensus is that at least one asteroid — possibly more — hit the earth about sixty-five million years ago, showering the planet with dust and debris, blocking sunlight, causing firestorms, and marking the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Paleogene Period; most scientists believe the impact was directly responsible for the mass extinction of many species of plants and animals — most famously, the dinosaurs; geological evidence buried deep in the soil of New Jersey offers support for the impact theory of dinosaur extinction

  • D.C. area wireless network excludes DHS

    U.S. federal law enforcement officers from different agencies soon will be able to talk to each other on their own radios in the Washington, D.C. area — but DHS will not be a part of the new system; DHS was lacking two things that are essential in the federal government for big projects like this one: “You need someone to be in charge and you need a place to put the money,” said the former official; “DHS had neither”

  • Haiti's escalating crises come down to lack of clean water

    Haiti’s corrupt and indifferent government has done little to improve water and sanitation since a 12 January earthquake, making it likely that the cholera epidemic there will continue to spread; even before the quake, more than a third of Haitians lacked access to clean water; now, more than two-thirds of Haitians have no access to clean water; less than one-fifth of the population has access to a simple latrine or toilet

  • Royal Society paints unsettling picture of a world 4 °C warmer

    If present warming trends continue, the world could warm by 4 °C by 2060; a new, detailed study by the U.K. Royal Society would make global water shortages acute; most of sub-Saharan Africa will see shorter growing seasons, with average maize production will drop 19 percent and bean production by 47 percent compared with current levels; the extreme weather, sea-level rise, and water shortages will drive many people to migrate

  • LIDAR technology helps to map landslides

    Researchers use Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) to identify and accurately measure changes in coastal features following a catastrophic series of landslides that occurred in New Zealand in 2005; the findings are important for assessing geological hazards and reducing the dangers to human settlements

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  • Panama Canal is due a big earthquake

    The Panama Canal is at greater risk of a catastrophic earthquake than previously assumed, a seismological survey of faults around the canal has warned; the survey estimate that quakes occur every 300 to 900 years. The most recent one was in 1621, so another could happen at any time

  • AT&T begins sales of satellite smartphone

    AT&T’s TerreStar Genus satellite smartphone allows users to communicate from areas where no wireless network coverage exists — or areas where such coverage was destroyed by a disaster; the phone is not cheap, and using it is costly; there are other limitations, too — but for those who need to stay in touch with headquarters even when outside of traditional coverage areas, or when such coverage has been disrupted, the phone offers a reasonable solution

  • Time to find a second Earth: WWF

    In 2007 Earth’s 6.8 billion humans were living 50 percent beyond the planet’s threshold of sustainability, according to a WWF report; the report says that even with modest UN projections for population growth, consumption, and climate change, by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb CO2 waste and keep up with natural resource consumption; if everyone used resources at the same rate per capita as the United States or the United Arab Emirates, four and a half planets would be needed

  • Sucking up oil spills is a cinch

    Cleaning up oil spills is a time consuming, difficult process, but a novel approach uses a new kind of vacuum cleaner that blows bark or other absorbent material onto oil spills, and then sucks the material up again. The vacuum cleaner is four times more efficient in cleaning up after oil accidents than conventional techniques

  • GWU earthquake simulator helps engineering prepare for the real thing

    George Washington University laboratory’s “shake table” — a $1 million, 10-by-10-foot metal structure that moves in six directions — replicates earthquakes and allows engineering students to test construction materials to see how they hold up under tremors of varying strength

  • New Orleans levee committee uneasy with Corps of Engineers modeling

    The Army Corps of Engineers uses complex computer models for hazard analysis calculations on which billions of dollars worth of repairs and improvements to the federal hurricane levee system are being based; the members of the regional levee commission want their own expert to scrutinize these computer models

  • Research to help reduce coastal flooding

    According to the Environment Agency’s Flooding in England Report, one in six homes in the United Kingdom are at risk from flooding, and 2.4 million properties are vulnerable to coastal/river floods; coastal areas could be saved from the misery of flooding thanks to new research from the University of Plymouth

  • Impact: Earth! Web site calculates asteroid impact effects on Earth

    Purdue University researchers unveils the Impact Earth! Web site; the site allows visitors to use a calculator to calculate the potential damage a comet or asteroid would cause if it hit the Earth; visitors enter parameters such as the diameter of the impact object, its density, velocity, angle of entry, and where it will hit the Earth, and the site estimates the consequences of its impact, including the atmospheric blast wave, ground shaking, size of tsunami generated, fireball expansion, distribution of debris, and size of the crater produced

  • Accessing, sharing critical crime information across the county

    Yuma County, Arizona, deploys multi-agency, interoperable data-sharing solutions which allow first response, law enforcement, and public safety agencies in the county to access and share critical crime and safety information county wide