• Changing climate in Michigan poses an emerging public health threat

    Changing climate conditions — including warmer temperatures and an increased frequency of heavy rainstorms — represent “an emerging threat to public health in Michigan,” according to a new report from University of Michigan researchers and state health officials.

  • 1.5°C vs 2°C global warming: Half a degree makes a big difference

    European researchers have found substantially different climate change impacts for a global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C by 2100, the two temperature limits included in the Paris climate agreement. The additional 0.5°C would mean a 10-cm-higher global sea-level rise by 2100, longer heat waves, and would result in virtually all tropical coral reefs being at risk.

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  • Citizen seismologists enhance the impacts of earthquake studies

    From matchbook-sized sensors plugged into a desktop computer to location-tagged tweets, the earthquake data provided by “citizen seismologists” have grown in size and quality since 2000, according to the field’s researchers.

  • Globe continues to break heat records -- for 11th straight month

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, March set another heat record for the globe. As Earth continues to warm, and is influenced by phenomena such as El Niño, global temperature records are piling up. For 2016 year to date (January-March), the average temperature for the globe was 2.07 degrees F above the twentieth-century average. This was the highest temperature for this period in the 1880–2016 record.

  • How could we build an invisibility cloak to hide Earth from an alien civilization?

    What would it take to hide an entire planet? It sounds more like a question posed in an episode of “Star Trek” than in academic discourse, but sometimes the bleeding edge of science blurs with themes found in science fiction. Of course we’ve been leaking our own position to distant stars via radio and television signals for six decades now, largely ignorant of the cosmic implications. But several notable scientists, such as Stephen Hawking, have publicly voiced concerns about revealing our presence to other civilizations. These concerns largely draw from the darker chapters of our own history, when a more advanced civilization would subjugate and displace a less advanced one.

  • Digital mapping project tracks the last moments of the victims of Japan’s 2011 tsunami

    Digital archives track the evacuation patterns of 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake victims between the time the earthquake and tsunami struck. The Tokyo Metropolitan University researchers who created the digital archives say they will make use of the archive to analyze evacuation behaviors — encouraging people, for instance, to avoid overestimating evacuation sites and head to higher ground.

  • Texas earthquake may have been manmade, but more data needed to assess hazards

    The most comprehensive analysis to date of a series of earthquakes that included a 4.8 magnitude event in East Texas in 2012 has found it plausible that the earthquakes were caused by wastewater injection. The findings also underscore the difficulty of conclusively tying specific earthquakes to human activity using currently available subsurface data.

  • Three years on, the Chelyabinsk superbolide mystery continues

    On 15 February 2013, the approach of asteroid (367943) Duende to our planet was being closely monitored by both the public and the scientific community worldwide when suddenly a superbolide entered the atmosphere above the region of Chelyabinsk in Russia. Three years and hundreds of published scientific studies later, we are still looking for the origin of such unexpected visitor, which caused damage to hundreds of buildings and injuries to nearly 1,500 people.

  • Underestimate global warming by exaggerating cloud “brightening”

    As the atmosphere warms, clouds become increasingly composed of liquid rather than ice, making them brighter. Because liquid clouds reflect more sunlight back to space than ice clouds, this “cloud phase feedback” acts as a brake on global warming in climate models. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Yale University have found, however, that climate models are aggressively making clouds “brighter” as the planet warms. This may be causing models to underestimate how much global warming will occur due to increasing carbon dioxide.

  • New urgency in preparing for solar storm Big One

    The specter of a geomagnetic solar storm with the ferocity to disrupt communications satellites, knock out GPS systems, shut down air travel and quench lights, computers and telephones in millions of homes for days, months, or even years has yet to grip the public as a panic-inducing possibility. But it is a scenario that space scientists, global insurance corporations and government agencies from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to NASA to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) take seriously, calling it a “low probability but high-impact event” that merits a substantial push on several fronts: research, forecasting, and mitigation strategy.

  • Historic preservation often neglected in disaster plans

    Many communities fail to take historic preservation into account when planning for natural disasters, risking a loss of heritage and critical engines of the local economy in the event of catastrophe. Thousands of historic sites are left exposed to risk from floods and storms. “A lot of cultural and historic resources worldwide are at risk when natural hazards strike,” said the author of a recent study. “And even though we know this, very few resources are dedicated to protecting them.”

  • Soil’s carbon storage could help limit impact of climate change

    Soils currently lock away around 2.4 trillion tons of greenhouse gases, which are stored underground as stable organic matter. Researchers say the world’s soils could store an extra eight billion tons of greenhouse gases, helping to limit the impacts of climate change. Growing crops with deeper root systems, using charcoal-based composts, and applying sustainable agriculture practices could help soils retain the equivalent of around four-fifths of annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels, the researchers say.

  • Water cycle instability posing major political and economic risks: UN experts

    The current instability and unpredictability of the world water cycle is here to stay, making society’s adaptation to new risks a vital necessity when formulating development policies, a UN water expert warns. “What we haven’t understood until now is the extent to which the fundamental stability of our political structures and global economy are predicated on relative stability and predictability of the water cycle — that is, how much water becomes available in what part of the year. As a result of these new water-climate patterns, political stability and the stability of economies in most regions of the world are now at risk,” the expert says.

  • Renewables and nuclear no substitute for carbon dioxide disposal

    Oxford scientist argues that there are only two things we can affect with policies today that will really matter for peak warming: reducing the cost of large-scale capture and disposal of carbon dioxide, and maximizing the average rate of economic growth we achieve for a given rate of emission in the meantime.

  • Flooding, accelerated sea-level rise in Miami over last decade

    Miami Beach flood events have significantly increased over the last decade due to an acceleration of sea-level rise in South Florida. Scientists suggest that regional sea-level projections should be used in place of global projections to better prepare for future flood hazards in the region.