• As Flood Risks Increase across the U.S., It’s Time to Recognize the Limits of Levees

    Many U.S. cities rely on levees for protection from floods. There are more than 100,000 miles of levees nationwide, in all 50 states and one of every five counties. Most of them seriously need repair: Levees received a D on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2018 national infrastructure report card. Climate models show that flood risks are increasing, and across the central U.S., rivers are becoming increasingly hard to control. Faith in the idea of engineered flood control is starting to erode.

  • Predicting flood duration

    The duration of floods can be determined by river flow, precipitation and atmospheric blocking. Researchers now offer a novel physically based Bayesian network model for inference and prediction of flood duration. The model also accurately examines the timescales of flooding.

  • California’s Wildfires Are 500 Percent Larger Due to Climate Change

    Californians may feel like they’re enduring an epidemic of fire. The past decade has seen half of the state’s 10 largest wildfires and seven of its 10 most destructive fires, including last year’s Camp Fire, the state’s deadliest wildfire ever. A new study finds that the state’s fire outbreak is real—and that it’s being driven by climate change. Since 1972, California’s annual burned area has increased more than fivefold, a trend clearly attributable to the warming climate. “Each degree of warming causes way more fire than the previous degree of warming did. And that’s a really big deal,” Park Williams, a climate scientist at Columbia University and an author of the paper, said. Among the many ways climate change might be messing with the environment, extra heat is among the simplest and most obvious. “Heat is the most clear result of human-caused climate change,” Williams said.

  • Climate Change Is Driving Many California Wildfires

    Against a backdrop of long-term rises in temperature in recent decades, California has seen ever higher spikes in seasonal wildfires, and, in the last two years, a string of disastrous, record-setting blazes. This has led scientists, politicians and media to ponder: what role might warming climate be playing here?

  • Can the “Masters of the Flood” Help Texas Protect Its Coast from Hurricanes?

    After centuries of fighting back water in a low-lying nation, the Dutch have become the world leaders in flood control. And their expertise is helping Texas design what would become the nation’s most ambitious — and expensive — coastal barrier.

  • Flooding: Britain’s Coastal Towns and Villages Face a Design Challenge to Cope with Climate Emergency

    As an island nation, Britain has vulnerable communities that must be prepared for the impact of the climate emergency. And while much has been said about homes at risk from the sea in coastal regions, or those inland subject to river flooding, the UK Committee on Climate Change’s new progress report for 2019 has laid bare the challenge facing them.

  • U.S. Costal Communities Face More than $400 Billion in Seawall Costs by 2040

    Coastal communities in the contiguous U.S. face more than $400 billion in costs over the next twenty years, much of it sooner, to defend coastal communities from inevitable sea-level rise, according to a new report. This is approaching the cost of the original interstate highway system and will require the construction of more than 50,000 miles of coastal barriers in 22 states by 2040, half the time it took to create the nation’s iconic roadway network.

  • The California Coast Is Disappearing under the Rising Sea. Our Choices Are Grim

    The California coast grew and prospered during a remarkable moment in history when the sea was at its tamest. But the mighty Pacific, unbeknownst to all, was nearing its final years of a calm but unusual cycle that had lulled dreaming settlers into a false sense of endless summer.

  • Climate Change Made Europe’s Mega-Heatwave Five Times More Likely

    After a series of unusually hot summers, France and other parts of Europe last week experienced another intense heatwave that broke temperature records across the continent. Quirin Schiermeier writes in Scientific American that for one group of climate scientists, the event presented a rare opportunity: to rapidly analyse whether the cause of the heatwave — which made headlines around the world — could be attributed to global warming. After a seven-day analysis, their results are in: climate change made the temperatures reached in France last week at least five times more likely to occur than in a world without global warming.

  • One Climate Crisis Disaster Happening Every Week, UN Warns

    Climate crisis disasters are happening at the rate of one a week, though most draw little international attention and work is urgently needed to prepare developing countries for the profound impacts, the UN has warned. Fiona Harvey writes in the Guardian that this means that adapting to the climate crisis could no longer be seen as a long-term problem, but one that needed investment now, said Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on disaster risk reduction. “People need to talk more about adaptation and resilience.”

  • The California Coast Is Disappearing under the Rising Sea. Our Choices Are Grim

    The California coast grew and prospered during a remarkable moment in history when the sea was at its tamest. But the mighty Pacific, unbeknownst to all, was nearing its final years of a calm but unusual cycle that had lulled dreaming settlers into a false sense of endless summer. Rosanna Xia writes in the Los Angeles Times that elsewhere, Miami has been drowning, Louisiana shrinking, North Carolina’s beaches disappearing like a time lapse with no ending. While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare confluence of favorable winds and cooler water. This “sea level rise suppression,” as scientists call it, went largely undetected. Blinded from the consequences of a warming planet, Californians kept building right to the water’s edge. But lines in the sand are meant to shift. In the last 100 years, the sea rose less than 9 inches in California. By the end of this century, the surge could be greater than 9 feet.

  • What to Expect from Wildfire Season This Year and in the Future

    The new normal for Western wildfires is abnormal, with increasingly bigger and more destructive blazes. Understanding the risks can help communities avert disaster. Throughout Western North America, millions of people live in high-risk wildfire zones thanks to increasingly dry, hot summers and abundant organic fuel in nearby wildlands.

  • Making the World Earthquake Safe

    Can fake earthquakes help safeguard nuclear reactors against natural disasters? Visitors to this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition will be given the opportunity to find out for themselves thanks to new research.

  • Confirmed: Global warming attributable to human activity, external factors

    Researchers have confirmed that human activity and other external factors are responsible for the rise in global temperature. While this has been the consensus of the scientific community for a long time, uncertainty remained around how natural ocean-cycles might be influencing global warming over the course of multiple decades. The answer we can now give is: Very little to none.

  • Geoengineer the planet? More scientists now say it must be an option

    Once seen as spooky sci-fi, geoengineering to halt runaway climate change is now being looked at with growing urgency. A spate of dire scientific warnings that the world community can no longer delay major cuts in carbon emissions, coupled with a recent surge in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, has left a growing number of scientists saying that it’s time to give the controversial technologies a serious look. Fred Pearce writes in Yale Environment 360 that among the technologies being considered are a range of efforts to restrict solar radiation from reaching the lower atmosphere, including spraying aerosols of sulphate particles into the stratosphere, and refreezing rapidly warming parts of the polar regions by deploying tall ships to pump salt particles from the ocean into polar clouds to make them brighter.