Disasters | Homeland Security Newswire

  • 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.

  • Insurer hails U.K. government action to close the terrorism insurance gap

    Pool Re the other day welcomed the U.K. government’s commitment to amend the 1993 Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act to enable the reinsurer to extend its cover to include non-damage business interruption losses resulting from acts of terrorism. The reinsurer is currently restricted by the 1993 Act only to pay out if physical damage has occurred to commercial property. This means that businesses, inside a police cordon, that suffer financial loss through being unable to access their property or to trade, are only covered if there has been physical damage during a terrorist attack.

  • Large swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates

    Two giant sinkholes near Wink, Texas, may just be the tip of the iceberg, according to a new study that found alarming rates of new ground movement extending far beyond the infamous sinkholes. Analysis indicates decades of oil production activity have destabilized localities in an area of about 4,000 square miles populated by small towns, roadways and a vast network of oil and gas pipelines and storage tanks.

  • Climate change to fuel more extreme heat waves in western U.S. by 2020

    Human-caused climate change will drive more extreme summer heat waves in the western United States, including in California and the Southwest as early as 2020, new research shows. Understanding the driving forces behind the projected increase in occurrence and severity of heat waves is crucial for public health security and necessary for communities to develop extreme heat mitigation strategies, said the authors.

  • Preventing hurricanes using air bubbles

    In recent years we have witnessed intense tropical storms that have taken many thousands of lives and caused massive destruction. For example, in 2005, hurricane Katrina killed more than 2,000 people and caused damage estimated to be in the billions of dollars. In 2016, hurricane Matthew swept across Haiti, taking 852 lives and destroying many towns on the island. Many people have tried to find ways of preventing hurricanes before they make landfall. Norwegian researchers believe that the answer lies in cold bubbles.

  • Climate change could force over 140 million to migrate within countries by 2050

    The worsening impacts of climate change in three densely populated regions of the world could see over 140 million people move within their countries’ borders by 2050, creating a looming human crisis and threatening the development process, a new World Bank Group report finds.

  • Addressing climate migration within borders helps countries plan, mitigate effects

    Migration in response to climate change is a big topic in the media. But the focus is all too often on either international cross-boundary movements or short-term population displacement from major floods or droughts. While these forms of population movement are important, they are by no means the whole story. A new report is the first to focus on longer-term climate impacts on crop and water resources and the ways in which they may influence internal migration.

  • New technology aids hurricane response

    The 2017 hurricane season was catastrophic. Hurricane Harvey, plaguing Texas with floods, was followed quickly by Irma, whose winds battered Florida and the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria then raged upon Puerto Rico and other islands already reeling from previous storms. In the buildup and aftermath, Lincoln Laboratory quickly assembled teams and technology to aid federal agencies in managing these disasters. Lincoln Laboratory staff deployed tools to help FEMA plan evacuations, monitor storms, and assess the damage wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

  • South Africa can avoid a national water crisis

    Even if South Africa uses less water and applies all of government’s existing plans, the country will still face a water crisis in the next twenty years. Solutions are within reach – but turning things around will take significant financial investment and political will. A new study sets out aggressive measures to offset guaranteed water shortages in the future.

  • More homes built near wild lands lead to greater wildfire risk

    More than 10 million acres burned across the country during the 2017 U.S. wildfire season at a cost of more than $2 billion — the largest bill ever. And while many factors affect the risk for wildfires, new research shows that a flurry of homebuilding near wild areas since 1990 has greatly increased the number of homes at risk from wildfires while increasing the costs associated with fighting those fires in increasingly dense developments.

  • Warm Arctic means colder, snowier winters in Northeastern U.S.

    Scientists have linked the frequency of extreme winter weather in the United States to Arctic temperatures. “Warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south. These swings tend to hang around for awhile, so the weather we have in the eastern United States, whether it’s cold or warm, tends to stay with us longer,” one scientist explains.

  • Several ways limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C

    There are several ways to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2100, new research says. The study is the first to look at how socioeconomic conditions such as inequalities, energy demand, and international cooperation might affect the feasibility of achieving these goals, and also considers technological and resource assumptions.

  • Small differences in the rate of global warming make a big difference in coastal areas

    The risk from extreme events is exacerbated by the rising global sea level, which in turn depends on the trajectory of global mean surface temperature. Even if global temperatures are stabilized, sea levels are expected to continue to rise for centuries, due to the long residence time of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, the thermal inertia of the ocean, and the slow response of large ice sheets to forcing. Higher temperatures will make extreme events much more common. In New York City, for example, they estimate that “100-year floods” will become annual events under a 1.5 degree rise and twice-annual events with a 2.0 degree rise.

  • Man-made earthquake risk reduced if fracking is 895m from faults

    Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is a process in which rocks are deliberately fractured to release oil or gas by injecting highly pressurized fluid into a borehole. This fluid is usually a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The risk of man-made earthquakes due to fracking is greatly reduced if high-pressure fluid injection used to crack underground rocks is 895m away from faults in the Earth’s crust, according to new research.

  • Sinking ground in San Francisco Bay exacerbates flooding from rising sea levels

    New research shows that sections of the San Francisco Bay shoreline are sinking at rates of nearly half an inch (10 millimeters) a year. But knowledge of where the ground in the Bay Area is sinking, and by how much, is not included in the official planning maps that authorities use to assess the local flooding risk from rising sea levels. The researchers used radar imaging to measure elevations to discover important gap in planning for sea level rise in Bay Area.