• Twitter, citizen science, and AI help improve flood data collection

    Urban flooding is difficult to monitor due to complexities in data collection and processing. This prevents detailed risk analysis, flooding control, and the validation of numerical models. Researchers are combining Twitter, citizen science and cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to develop an early-warning system for flood-prone communities.

  • Cities with bad traffic may be more resilient to disruptive events

    New research shows that cities with bad traffic under normal conditions may actually be more efficient at handling adverse events, like accidents and storms. Conversely, some cities with typically low traffic congestion become severely backed-up under the pressure of these disruptive scenarios. Efficiency refers to the average time delay a commuter would face annually due to traffic. Resilience is the ability of road networks to absorb adverse events that fall outside normal daily traffic patterns.

  • New method to assess damage from natural disasters

    Awesome. Amazing. Incredible. Unbelievable. Spectacular. These words aptly describe what is left following any natural disaster, whether it’s an earthquake, tornado, hurricane or any other occurrence where homes, buildings or infrastructure are destroyed and lives are turned upside down. However, these words are not the words the people whose lives have been permanently changed want to hear from anyone in their town assisting with the recovery efforts, or studying the effects of an event, not when it comes to discussing what is left of their homes and businesses, especially while piles of debris line the streets waiting to be cleared. Researchers offer a way to measure debris volume using drones, then develop an information-based model to determine the cost of cleanup.

  • GAO: DoD needs to do more on climate adaptation

    Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), issued a report titled Climate Change Adaptation: DoD Needs to Better Incorporate Adaptation into Planning and Collaboration at Overseas Installations. The report found that the Department of Defense (DoD) needs to better incorporate adaptation to climate change into planning and collaboration at overseas installations.

  • South Florida faces increasing inland flood threat

    As South Florida raises groundwater levels to fight saltwater intrusion, the threat of inland flooding will only increase, according to newly published research results. Although high groundwater levels in South Florida are a major contributor to inland floods, especially during the wet season or extreme rain events, traditional flood models don’t account for the groundwater beneath our feet, scientists have found.

  • Globe had third warmest year to date and fifth warmest November on record

    With a warm start to the year and only one month remaining, the globe remains on track to go down as the third warmest year in the 138-year climate record. Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverage remain at near-record lows.

  • After Harvey, some South Texans more wary than ever about plan to build landfill near floodplain

    Nearly four months ago, Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall inundated ultra-polluted Superfund sites in and around Houston, triggering the leak of hazardous waste. Now, 300 miles south near Laredo, a company’s efforts to develop a landfill in close proximity to a 100-year floodplain is drawing fresh concerns in light of the environmental problems that emerged in Harvey’s wake.

  • Northeast farmers face warming climate, drenched fields

    For the past two decades, the Northeast has been getting warmer for longer periods of time. It also has seen a 71 percent increase in the frequency of extreme precipitation events – more than any other region in the United States. Farmers in the Northeast are adapting to longer growing seasons and warming climate conditions – but they may face spring-planting whiplash as they confront fields increasingly saturated with rain.

  • MIT conference seeks solutions for reconstruction in devastated Caribbean

    This fall’s record-breaking hurricanes Maria and Irma left a swath of devastation across the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, Granada, Dominica, and others. Photos of severely damaged or demolished houses, and statistics about the scale of the destruction and the slow pace of recovery efforts, reveal a tragic level of suffering in an already economically ravaged region. Two-day workshop featuring island leaders explores ways to rebuilt better, more resilient infrastructure.

  • Geologists report new findings about Kansas, Oklahoma earthquakes

    In the more than three decades between 1977 and 2012, only 15 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater were recorded in the entire state of Kansas. Since 2012 more than 100 earthquakes of 3.0 or greater have been recorded in only two counties in the state, Sumner and Harper. These include the largest earthquake ever monitored in Kansas in November 2014, a magnitude 4.9 event near the Sumner County town of Milan. The frequency of earthquakes has continued to increase. Between May 2015 and July 2017, sensors detected more than 2,400 earthquakes in Sumner County alone, ranging in magnitude from 0.4 to 3.6. As concern rises about earthquakes induced by human activity like oil exploration, geologists report a new understanding about recent earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

  • Effects of climate change could accelerate by mid-century

    Environmental models used in a new study are showing that the effects of climate change could be much stronger by the middle of the twenty-first century, and a number of ecosystem and weather conditions could consistently decline even more in the future. If carbon dioxide emissions continue at the current rate, they report that scenarios of future conditions could not only lead to a significant decrease in snow days, but also an increase in the number of summer days over 90 degrees and a drastic decline in stream habitat with 40 percent not suitable for cold water fish.

  • The odds of a megadrought in western, southwestern U.S.

    In the southwestern United States, water management is a top concern. If a megadrought occurs, large-scale water management decisions affecting millions of Americans must be made to protect agriculture, the ecosystem and potable water systems. Understanding the odds of a widespread megadrought becomes important for planning purposes. To help untangle fact from speculation, climate scientists have developed a “robust null hypothesis” to assess the odds of a megadrought – one that lasts more than thirty years – occurring in the western and southwestern United States.

  • High-resolution climate models offer alarming new projections for U.S.

    Approaching the second half of the century, the United States is likely to experience increases in the number of days with extreme heat, the frequency and duration of heat waves, and the length of the growing season. In response, it is anticipated that societal, agricultural and ecological needs will increase the demand on already-strained natural resources like water and energy.

  • California needs to rethink urban fire risk, starting with where it builds houses

    With widespread damage to structures, the wildfires raging across southern California highlight the importance of where and how we build our communities and, in particular, how land use planning and better building codes can reduce our exposure to such events. Despite an aversion by some to land use planning, this strategy is simply common sense. It will also save lives and massive amounts of public resources over the long term. Where we do choose to develop and inhabit hazard-prone environments, it may be necessary to design communities with “passive survivability” in mind, or the ability to withstand the event and have water and power for a few days. This provides both the built environment and the people within some basic protection for a limited time. Strategies exist to lower the risk of fire in the current housing stock and to more carefully design and site future development where wildfires are possible. With increasing extremes expected as climate continues to change, officially recognizing this link and creating a safer built environment will only become more urgent.

  • Gulf Coast universities team up to address hurricane resilience

    A new multi-institution research center will focus on helping the Gulf coast do better at preparing for and mitigating the damage and loss of lives from hurricanes and other severe storms. The Hurricane Resilience Research Institute (HuRRI) draws upon the strengths of its seven participating universities, from flood mitigation and hurricane modeling to public policy.