• Drones help in early detection of forest fires

    Researchers have developed a drone-based system for early detection and prevention of forest fires through drone technology. Sensors can detect fire from 15 kilometers away, and autonomously send drones to investigate, even in conditions of limited visibility, and gathers optic and thermal images of the fire, which the drone sends back in real time.

  • A “Responsibility to Prepare”: A strategy for presidential leadership on the security risks of climate change

    Presidential candidates are offering their plans on climate change, and it’s a competition over who’s the most ambitious. That’s good news, given that it’s a major security threat that requires a major response. Thus far, most of the candidates’ plans understandably focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. These steps are critically important, not least because the world will likely experience significant security disruptions in the future if the scale and scope of climate change are not reduced. Caitlin Werrell, Francesco Femia, and John Conger write in War in the Rocks that this is only half a strategy. Indeed, if there is a silver lining to climate change and the attendant security risks, it’s that we can see many of these changes coming. American scientists, the U.S. government (see this administration’s National Climate Assessment) and private industry have all shown they are capable of modeling climate change futures with a high degree of certainty compared to other trends. A climate model from 1967 still has a strong predictive capacity. Exxon’s own internal calculations and climate modeling from 1982 about where emissions would likely be in the future, including by 2020, were fairly spot-on. A political scientist in 1967 or 1982 would have had much more difficulty predicting what the political landscape would look like in 2020 than she or he would have making predictions about the climate.

  • More frequent downpours of torrential rain with global warming

    The frequency of downpours of heavy rain—which can lead to flash floods, devastation, and outbreaks of waterborne disease—has increased across the globe in the past 50 years, a period when global warming also intensified

  • Climate change is destroying a barrier that protects the U.S. East Coast from hurricanes

    Severe hurricanes can cost up to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. The destruction left in the wake of Atlantic hurricanes has been increasing over time in recent decades. A new study suggests that climate change could soon eliminate an atmospheric barrier that protects much of the U.S. East Coast from powerful hurricanes.

  • Dream of ideal “invisibility” cloaks for stress waves dashed

    Whether Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, which perfectly steers light waves around objects to make them invisible, will ever become reality remains to be seen, but perfecting a more crucial cloak is impossible, a new study says. It would have perfectly steered stress waves in the ground, like those emanating from a blast, around objects like buildings to make them “untouchable.”

  • Small towns, big flood waters

    Climate change is bringing more water to people’s doorsteps, devastating communities. For some floodplain towns, survival comes down to sink, swim, or rise. Entire towns are moving to escape rising waters. But how do towns address these growing threats and still retain their sense of community? But how do you move an entire town? lood experts at UC Davis are visiting dozens of communities to find out. This is the story of two of those towns.

  • The economic cost of devastating hurricanes and other extreme weather events is even worse than we thought

    June marks the official start of hurricane season. If recent history is any guide, it will prove to be another destructive year thanks to the worsening impact of climate change. If this is not bad enough, there is this: a meaningful assessment of the costs of climate change – using basic economic principles I teach to undergrads – paints a scary picture indeed.

  • Scam contractors preying on victims of natural disasters

    Following a natural disaster or strong storm like Hurricane Florence, there is usually a second wave of potential destruction – scam artists looking to line their pockets. “After any major weather-related incident, insurance adjusters and contractors swarm the affected area and, unfortunately, some are looking to take advantage of those in distress,” says one expert.

  • Telling early moment that indicates a coming megaquake

    Just 10 seconds into a quake, GPS data can detect signs of acceleration that point to an event’s magnitude. Likewise, that moment — gleaned from GPS data on the peak rate of acceleration of ground displacement — can indicate a smaller event.

  • More intense wildfires are here to stay, and we need to adapt

    Update on state of Canada’s mountain regions looks at human scale of ecological disaster wrought by changing climate. “Events that a decade ago we would call ‘100-year events’ are quickly becoming the norm,” said one researcher. We need to talk “about ways we can coexist with fire because it is our new reality.”

  • Rising seas threaten Australia’s major airports – and it may be happening faster than we think

    Most major airports in Australia are located on reclaimed swamps, sitting only a few meters above the present-day sea level. And the risk of sea level rise from climate change poses a greater threat to our airports than we’re prepared for. Given the significant disruption cost and deep uncertainty associated with the timing of sea level rise, we must adopt a risk-based approach which considers extreme sea level rise scenarios as part of coastal infrastructure planning.

  • Rural areas more vulnerable to sea-level rise

    Type “sea-level rise” in an internet search engine and almost all the resulting images will show flooded cities. But there is a growing recognition that sea-level rise will mostly impact rural land–much of it privately owned—where existing knowledge is insufficient o best inform private and public decisions on how to cope with the threat.

  • Earthquakes or tiger attacks: understanding what people fear most can help prevent disasters

    Understanding what people worry about is crucial to preparing for natural hazards such as earthquakes and mitigating their effects. To prevent disasters, local people, municipal authorities and national governments all need to pull in the same direction – especially when budgets are low for disaster planning. But if residents feel that their everyday fears are ignored by those in power, they may disengage, leaving authorities unable to influence their behavior in a time of crisis.

  • Can we prepare for climate impacts without creating financial chaos?

    Likely sooner than we think, the destruction that warmer global temperatures are inflicting — through record floods, wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes — could physically overwhelm our ability to maintain many communities in their existing form. Communities face a tricky dilemma as climate changes: How to prepare for impacts without scaring away homeowners and investors and setting off a damaging economic spiral.

  • Preparing low-income communities for hurricanes begins with outreach

    Interviews with economically disadvantaged New Jerseyans in the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy yield advice for future disasters.