• U.K. government rejected flood warnings from own advisers

    Critics charge that the U.K. government was warned by both the government’s own climate change experts and outside consultants that there was a need to take urgent action to protect the increasing number areas in Britain which are becoming susceptible to flooding, but that the government rejected the advice. Despite the urging of its own climate experts, the U.K. government in October, just a few weeks before the devastating flooding in Cumbria, decided not to develop comprehensive strategy to address flood risk.

  • Climate change losses for Southeast Asia well above previous estimate: ADB

    Economic losses from the impacts of climate change in Southeast Asia could be 60 percent higher than previously estimated, reducing the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 11 percent by 2100, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study. The analysis is an update to a 2009 ADB report that estimated a 7 percent annual reduction in economic output due to climate change.

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  • Giant comets may pose danger to life on Earth

    Astronomers report that the discovery of hundreds of giant comets in the outer planetary system over the last two decades means that these objects pose a much greater hazard to life than asteroids. The giant comets, termed centaurs, move on unstable orbits crossing the paths of the massive outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The planetary gravitational fields can occasionally deflect these objects in towards the Earth.

  • U.S., Israel to co-develop technologies for first responders

    Some $12 million will be funneled to collaborative Israeli-American projects for the development of advanced technologies for first responders over the next three years. The agreement brings together the Israeli Ministry of Public Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a drive to better equip and prepare both countries’ national rescue forces including fire, police, and first-aid units. Each side will invest equally in the project.

  • Rail line service disruptions caused by sea level rise to increase dramatically

    Rail services to and from the South West of England could be disrupted for more than 10 percent of each year by 2040 and almost a third by 2100, a new study suggests. The cost of maintaining tracks and sea defenses could also soar as predicted sea level rises, coupled with coastal storms and floods, pose major challenges for rail operators and governments.

  • Growing risks in flood-prone areas due to economic growth more than climate change

    Worldwide economic losses from river flooding could increase 20-fold by the end of the twenty-first century if no further actions on flood risk reduction are taken. There are two contributors to risks associated with river flooding. Floods’ frequency and severity (both influenced by climate change); and the exposure to floods of people and economic assets (determined by economic activity and human residency in flood-prone areas). Researchers calculate that in many flood-prone regions of the world, more than 70 percent of the increase in flood-related risks over the coming decades can be attributed to economic growth and residency patterns in flood prone areas.

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  • Fracking-induced earthquakes increase in magnitude over time

    A study by geophysicists shows that earthquakes resulting from fracking-related wastewater injection follow several indicative patterns that are starkly different from natural causes. One of the study’s main conclusions is that the likelihood of large-magnitude manmade, or “induced,” earthquakes in areas where fracking activity takes place, increases over time, independent of the previous seismicity rate. The study’s findings could have implications for both the oil and natural gas industry and for government regulators. Under current practices, extraction activities typically shut down in an area if a high-magnitude earthquake occurs. But according to the researchers, a better approach might be to limit production before a large quake occurs.

  • U.S. facing looming grain failures

    Across the United States, record quantities of corn and soybeans have been harvested in recent years. However, according to new research, this trend may soon change. “By midcentury,” the interdisciplinary team reports, “temperatures in Illinois will likely be closer to those of today’s mid-South, and precipitation will range somewhere between that of today’s East Texas and that of the Carolinas.” In the face of a rapidly changing climate, the researchers call for a U.S. Midwest field research network to address crucial agricultural challenges.

  • Climate change rapidly warming world’s lakes, threatening freshwater supplies

    Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a study spanning six continents. The study is the largest of its kind and the first to use a combination of satellite temperature data and long-term ground measurements. A total of 235 lakes, representing more than half of the world’s freshwater supply, were monitored for at least twenty-five years. The study found that lakes are warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) each decade. This is greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects, the scientists say.

  • Autumn 2015 was record warm for the contiguous U.S.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ha release a report which shows that the autumn of 2015 was the warmest autumn in the last 121 years — since measurements began in 1895. The September-November contiguous U.S. average temperature was 56.8°F, 3.3°F above the twentieth century average, surpassing the previous record of 56.6°F set in 1963. Record and near-record warmth spanned much of the nation. The November contiguous U.S. temperature was 44.7°F, 3.0°F above the twentieth century average and the thirteenth warmest in the 121-year period of record.

  • “Unprecedented” storms, floods in north-west England are more common than we think

    The recent “unprecedented” flooding in north-west England might be more common than currently believed, a group of scientists has warned. A team of experts has drawn on historic records to build a clearer picture of the flooding. They conclude that twenty-first-century flood events such as Storm Desmond are not exceptional or unprecedented in terms of their frequency or magnitude, and that flood frequency and flood risk forecasts would be improved by including data from flood deposits dating back hundreds of years.

  • Better FEMA options for increasing the affordability of flood insurance

    FEMA currently does not have the policy analysis capacity or necessary data to comprehensively analyze different options for making flood insurance more affordable. A new report identifies an approach for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to evaluate policy options for making premiums through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) more affordable for those who have limited ability to pay.

  • Terror attacks in Paris and California expose modern society’s lack of resilience

    Our complex global society lacks resilience. The root cause of our vulnerability is the structure of the global economy: highly interconnected, complex, and filled with turbulence. Major disasters can occur unexpectedly, and even minor incidents can cascade into significant human and financial losses. Emerging pressures such as climate change and urbanization will only intensify the potential for extreme events and severe disruptions. Risk management makes sense in a stable environment with predictable events, but in today’s more complex risk landscape — the new normal — it is inadequate for dealing with fast-moving, unfamiliar threats that may cascade into disasters. The good news is that brittleness is not inevitable. It is a fundamental design flaw. Resilience — the capacity to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of disruptive change — is a basic characteristic of all living systems, from individual creatures to entire ecosystems. In this age of turbulence, resilience has become a prerequisite for continued prosperity.

  • Human skin detection technology improves security, search and rescue

    Color-image based systems are excellent at locating people in aerial search and rescue operations, but fall short when it comes to discerning between actual human skin and objects with similar hues. To remedy this, researchers have developed a novel two-dimensional feature space which uses the spectral absorption characteristics of melanin, hemoglobin and water to better characterize human skin.

  • Climate outlook may be worse than feared

    The impact of climate change may be worse than previously thought, a new study suggests. The research first created a simple algorithm to determine the key factors shaping climate change and then estimated their likely impact on the world’s land and ocean temperatures. The method is more direct and straightforward than that used by the IPCC, which uses sophisticated, but more opaque, computer models.