• Space weather threatens high-tech life

    In September 1859, parts of the United States were crippled by a fierce space weather storm. Today’s even more sensitive electronics and satellites would be devastated should an event of that magnitude occur again. In 2008, a panel of experts commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences issued a detailed report with a sobering conclusion: The world would be thrown back to the life of the early 1800s, and it would take years – or even a decade – to recover from an event that large.

  • Separating factual from fake messages during a crisis

    How well can you tell facts from fake on social media? How about in a crisis? DHS S&T, together with Canadian partners, concluded the fifth Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE V) event last year, running drills involving the hypothetical eruption of Mt. Baker, an active volcano in the Pacific Northwest. As part of the simulation, a group of digital disaster services volunteers practiced separating fact from fiction on the web, with the mission of keeping responders informed during the event.

  • Socio-hydrology: Flood protection is everyone's responsibility

    We have an impact on water - through dams, regulations and agriculture. And the risk of flooding affects us and our economic decisions. Researchers are investigating the complicated interplay of these factors. “The field of hydrology has been investigating the impact of agriculture and building work on the risk of flooding for decades,” says a researcher. “But research on the two-way interactions between water systems and society is an extremely young field of research.”

  • Comprehensive strategy required to tackle Houston flooding problems

    A new report by leading Texas researchers analyzes in detail a variety of shortcomings with the Houston area’s current — and proposed — approach to flood control. The report calls on civil leaders to pursue a multifaceted and regional strategy which ensures that all communities receive better protection regardless of socioeconomic status.

  • Artificial levees on Mississippi River dramatically increased extreme floods

    A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River. It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century—mostly due to projects to straighten, channelize, and bound the river with artificial levees. The new research also uncovered a clear pattern over the centuries linking flooding on the Mississippi with natural fluctuations of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean water temperatures.

  • Southeastern European nations are latest to adopt emergency-response system

    The Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS), developed nearly a decade ago by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), is used today around the world for emergency response. Lincoln Laboratory, in partnership with NATO,  is modifying the system, and in its latest development, NICS has been implemented in the southeastern European nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

  • First direct observations of methane's increasing greenhouse effect

    Scientists have directly measured the increasing greenhouse effect of methane at the Earth’s surface for the first time. A research team from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) tracked a rise in the warming effect of methane — one of the most important greenhouse gases for the Earth’s atmosphere — over a 10-year period at a DOE field observation site in northern Oklahoma.

  • Flood risk denial in U.S. coastal communities

    Rising sea levels have worsened the destruction that routine tidal flooding causes in the nation’s coastal communities. On the U.S. mainland, communities in Louisiana, Florida and Maryland are most at risk. Stemming the loss of life and property is a complex problem. Elected officials can enact policies to try to lessen the damage of future flooding. Engineers can retrofit vulnerable buildings. But, in the face of a rising tide, changing hearts and minds might be the most formidable obstacle to decreasing the damage done by flooding.

  • Climate change could increase food insecurity risk

    Weather extremes caused by climate change could raise the risk of food shortages in many countries, new research suggests. The study examined how climate change could affect the vulnerability of different countries to food insecurity – when people lack access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

  • Safety potential, limits of earthquake early warning systems

    In a new study, scientists calculate possible alert times that earthquake early warning systems can provide people at different levels of ground motion from light to very strong shaking. Results of scientific studies such as this can be used to design alerting strategies for earthquake early warning systems such as USGS’ ShakeAlert.

  • A court case could set precedent for climate change litigation

    A closely watched federal trial pitting two cities against major oil companies has taken surprising and unorthodox turns. Stanford researchers examine the case, which could reshape the landscape of legal claims for climate change-related damages.

  • Water crisis spurring protests in Iran

    A lack of water has been spurring protests in Iran against the regime since the beginning of the year, Reuters reported Thursday. The water crisis have taken place mostly in Isfahan, located in central Iran, and, the Khuzestan province in the west, which is largely inhabited by non-Persian Arabs who call the region Ahwaz.

  • Climate-proofing to meet increased frequency, intensity of extreme weather events

    Man-made climate change has been proven to have increased recent extreme rainfall and associated floods; coastal flooding due to sea-level rise; heatwaves in Australia, China, and Europe; and increased risks of wildfires with implications for humans and animals, the environment, and the economy. Climate proofing can help to limit these impacts.

  • Geoengineering polar glaciers to slow sea-level rise

    Targeted geoengineering to preserve continental ice sheets deserves serious research and investment, argues an international team of researchers. Without intervention, by 2100 most large coastal cities will face sea levels that are more than three feet higher than they are currently.

  • We need laws on geoengineering, and soon

    Humans have been accidentally altering the planet’s climate for thousands of years. Soon, it may be possible alter it intentionally. The deliberate, large-scale manipulation of climate is called geoengineering. The term encompasses a variety of proposals, from pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to reflecting sunlight back into space in an attempt to slow the earth’s warming. Global geoengineering tactics haven’t yet been deployed, but as climate change starts to spin out of control, support for some forms of geoengineering seems to be growing.