• Hurricane Harvey: Most fatalities occurred outside flood zones

    Researchers found that most Houston-area drowning deaths from Hurricane Harvey occurred outside the zones designated by government as being at higher risk of flooding: the 100- and 500-year floodplains. Drowning caused 80 percent of Harvey deaths, and the research showed that only 22 percent of fatalities in Houston’s 4,600-square-kilometre district, Harris County, occurred within the 100-year floodplain.

  • U.S. health security preparedness improved, but some regions lagging

    A national snapshot used to gauge the health of the nation’s health security and emergency preparedness found that readiness has improved significantly over the past five years, but earlier identified gaps remain, with some parts of the country lagging.

  • Portable device to sniff out trapped humans

    The first step after buildings collapse from an earthquake, bombing or other disaster is to rescue people who could be trapped in the rubble. But finding entrapped humans among the ruins can be challenging. A new, inexpensive sensor is light and portable enough for first responders to hold in their hands or for drones to carry on a search for survivors.

  • Planning for hurricanes as weather patterns change

    We’re all aware of the impact of intense weather systems that make headlines, like 2017’s hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But even slight adjustments to weather patterns—like historic changes in precipitation levels and the increasing frequency of heat waves—can drastically change living conditions.

  • The 100th meridian, where the Great Plains begin, shifting eastward

    In 1878, the American geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell drew an invisible line in the dirt—the 100th meridian west, the longitude he identified as the boundary between the humid eastern United States and the arid Western plains. Now, 140 years later, scientists that the line appears to be slowly moving eastward, due to climate change. They say it will almost certainly continue shifting in coming decades, expanding the arid climate of the western plains into what we think of as the Midwest. The implications for farming and other pursuits could be huge.

  • Federal funding moves ShakeAlert closer to reality

    A recent boost in federal funding will move the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system closer to completion. The omnibus spending package allocates $12.9 million for continued development and limited public rollout of the system. It also appropriates $10 million for capital costs to add more earthquake sensors and improve system infrastructure.

  • Predicting East Coast hurricane flooding risks

    A model developed at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will soon make its debut in the real world, helping to characterize and predict the paths and impacts of hurricanes on the East Coast.

  • Shoring up beaches by just adding sand

    New research is shedding light on how mechanically placed sand on San Diego County beaches moves and its potential impacts. The study could help planners develop beach nourishment projects that will reach their intended goals without causing unintended problems.

  • 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.