• Mexico City's sinking is worsening

    Scientists are alarmed by the extent to which Mexico City has sunk; over the last 100 years, parts of the city have sunk as much as forty-two feet — and sections of the city sink as much as eight inches a year; the sinking has caused the city’s sewage system to back up resulting in dangerous floods; the sinking is the result of water being pumped from the aquifer directly below the city more quickly than it is being replenished; Mexico City is built in the middle of Lake Texcoco, which has been drained

  • Economic, infrastructure damage of floods in Australia, Brazil staggering

    The floods in Australia and Brazil demonstrate how vulnerable societies are to the ravages of nature; the floods in Brazil have caused damage estimated at $1.2 billion; the Australia flooding could prove to be the most costly in the country’s history, already topping $5 billion before the waters reached Brisbane last week; the waters have ruined the agriculture industry in many areas of the country and when including the lost production value of crops and other goods, damages rise to almost $30 billion

  • Brisbane under water

    Brisbane, a city of two million and Australia’s third largest, is flooded; roads are inundated, railway lines have been cut, and sewage is spreading into the waters; dozens of suburbs are under three meters of waters, with some factories and homes only visible by their roofs; more than 100,000 properties had their power cut as a precaution against flooding of electricity substations; the worst affected area was the town of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, where residents described an 8-meter “instant inland tsunami” ripping through the streets on Monday; the flood zone in northern Australia now covers are larger than Germany and France combined

  • Aussie "inland tsunami" now threatens Brisbane

    The flood zone in northern Australia covers an area larger than France and Germany combined; incessant rain and wide-spread floods have destroyed infrastructure and severely hampered economic activity; the worst is yet to come: Brisbane river has broken its banks, sparking fears that the city — Australia’s third largest and home to two million people - will be flooded by Thursday; public health experts fear that outbreaks of Ross river virus — a debilitating disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is endemic in Queensland — will increase

  • World Bank: Coastal cities in Asia face devastating floods

    Thirteen of the twenty largest cities in the world are located on the coast, with more than a third of the world’s population living within 100 miles of a shoreline; a World Bank report finds that Asia’s major coastal cities will experience more devastating floods; damage due to flooding could be as high as 6 percent of regional GDP in 2050; developing cities will be most heavily affected; the report urges the threatened cities immediately to begin developing and implementing long-term plans to harden critical infrastructure to withstand and mitigate the effects of increased flooding

  • New spacecraft to help break the climate debate gridlock

    NASA plans to settle the climate debate with a fleet of Earth-orbiting spacecraft keeping tabs on the planet’s changing climate; the fleet has two tasks: first: take the total amount of energy coming to Earth from the sun, subtract what gets reflected back or re-radiated from particles in the atmosphere, and see what you have left; if more energy is coming in than going out, it is getting hotter; second: figure out what fraction of these atmospheric particles stems from natural phenomena, such as wind-blown dust and volcanic eruptions, and what is coming from things we can control — our industrial processes, business pursuits, and recreational pass-times

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  • Law enforcement officials adapting to the cell phone age

    Law enforcement officials are collecting more cell phone numbers for emergency alert phone lists as more people move away from land telephone lines; during emergencies land telephone lines are often knocked down and first responders do not have many cell phone numbers on file; emergency cell phone technology is rapidly improving with more accurate traces; 911 first responders hope to incorporate video, text, and photos in the future to better assess emergencies and communicate

  • Floods wreak havoc on Queensland infrastructure, threaten Aussie economy

    Queensland is Australia’s largest coal exporter and accounts for about 20 percent of the nation’s A$1.28 trillion economy; the state’s worst in fifty years have forced the evacuation of 4,000 people and affected about a million square kilometers, or an area the size of France and Germany combined; it may cost more than A$5 billion to repair the damage the deluge has caused; Australia had its third-wettest year on record during 2010; the rain has destroyed cotton crops, halted coal deliveries, shut mines, and prompted producers including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group to declare force majeure, a legal clause allowing them to miss contracted deliveries

  • California prepares for major seismic event

    Scientists are growing more wary about the potential for a major seismic event in California; earthquake trends show that intervals between such events have been as short as 45 years to as long as 145 years; considering that it has been 154 years since the last major quake, the San Francisco Bay Area, Delta Region, and Central Valley prepare for the worst

  • Recycled Haitian concrete safe, strong, cheap

    Nearly a year after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, most of the damaged areas of Haiti are still in ruins; researchers find that concrete and other debris in Port-au-Prince could be safely and inexpensively recycled into strong new construction material which meets or exceeds the minimum strength standards used in the United States

  • Plan for Massachusetts LNG site faces growing opposition

    The Weaver’s Cove energy project will see up to seventy liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers a year travel up Narragansett Bay to berth in Mt. Hope Bay; from there, a sub-sea pipe would carry the liquefied gas more than four miles up the Taunton River to a storage facility at a former oil terminal; Massachusetts and Rhode Island politicians work to block the Fall River storage facility, saying a terrorist attack or accident would place thousands of people in peril in the densely populated city and harm fish habitat and tourism

  • Australian floods spread to forty towns, threaten Great Barrier Reef

    The floods in Australia continue to spread; forty towns have been flooded so far, affecting 200,000 people; as tons of toxic sludge are being washed into the sea, the famous Great Barrier Reef is now threatened; economists say the disaster could potentially shave about 0.5 percent off Australia’s annual GDP; snakes and marauding crocodiles are among the hazards for the besieged residents of steamy Queensland state, along with disease-carrying mosquitoes and the possibility of looting

  • Engineers develop more earthquake-resistant building designs

    Virginia Tech researchers are developing a next generation of design criteria for buildings located in geographic regions where earthquakes are known to occur, either rarely or frequently; in the future, structural engineers will base their designs on the concepts of Performance Based Earthquake Engineering (PBEE), where the objective is to control damage and provide life-safety for any size of earthquake that might occur

  • Aussie flood zone covers area bigger than France and Germany combined

    More than 200,000 people have been affected by relentless flooding in northeast Australia, with the flood zone now stretching over an area bigger than France and Germany combined; Heavy rains and flooding in northeast Australia is common during the southern hemisphere summer, but the scope of the damage from the recent downpours is extremely unusual

  • Plastic homes for quick rebuilding after disaster

    Canadian company thinks it has an answer for Haitian relief; the company uses a rubber seal to attach the plastic structure to the concrete slab used as the foundation; the result is the structure “floats” atop the foundation in such a way it that can compensate for movements in the earth directly below, while the production process allows it to hold up against winds in excess of 240 kilometers per hour