• Rare earth elementsAppalachian coal ash rich in rare earth elements

    In the wake of a 2014 coal ash spill into North Carolina’s Dan River from a ruptured Duke Energy drainage pipe, the question of what to do with the nation’s aging retention ponds and future coal ash waste has been a highly contested topic. A study of the content of rare earth elements in U.S. coal ashes shows that coal mined from the Appalachian Mountains could be the proverbial golden goose for hard-to-find materials critical to clean energy and other emerging technologies.

  • Coastal infrastructureGroundwater extraction contributes less to sea level rise than previously thought

    Groundwater extraction and other land water contribute about three times less to sea level rise than previous estimates, according to a new study. The study does not change the overall picture of future sea level rise, but provides a much more accurate understanding of the interactions between water on land, in the atmosphere, and the oceans, which could help to improve future models of sea level rise.

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  • Emerging threatsChanging climate threatens World Heritage, tourism sites

    Climate change is fast becoming one of the most significant risks for World Heritage sites across the globe. Many World Heritage sites, designated for their global significance and universal value to humankind, are major tourist destinations. Some are among the most iconic places on Earth.

  • Muslims in EuropeMuslim students in Switzerland must shake female teachers’ hands

    Muslim students in Switzerland’s Basel Country can no longer refuse to shake a female teacher’s hand on religious grounds, according to the canton’s office of education, culture, and sport. If they refuse, they would face a fine of up to $5,000. The canton’s authority added that the public interest outweighed “considerably” the private interests of the pupils. This public interest included equal treatment of men and women, the integration of foreigners into Swiss society, and a well-organized school system. In addition, shaking hands was an important social gesture for one’s future career, the educational authority said in its statement.

  • Personal protection equipmentCotton candy machine inspires lighter bullet proof vests, and more

    It is “boots on the ground” in this Harvard lab where the researchers are on a mission to protect U.S. troops on the battlefield. Researchersare developing next generation nanofibers at the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The researchers draw their inspiration from the cotton candy machine. They use their own version of that technology to spin a wide range of polymers, both natural and synthetic, into new fabrics and materials for military use.

  • Food securityBetter understanding of how climate change threatens agriculture

    Climate change expected over the next decade may cause food production in a key agricultural region of Brazil to decline by up to 13 percent. The decline reflects both reductions in crop yield — how much is produced per area harvested — and how crop failures and farmers’ decisions together lead to cultivating less land and growing only one crop in a season instead of two. “Some amount of climate change is inevitable,” says a researcher. “So we’re asking, How vulnerable is the agricultural system, and what are the remedies?”

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  • Coastal resilienceTrump-owned resort cites sea level rise in application for seawall permit

    Donald Trump may believe that the scientific evidence about global warming is a “hoax,” or the result of a Chinese plot to undermine the American economy, but the professional managers of his coastal properties believe that global warming is real, and that one of its consequences – sea level rise – poses a real threat to the Trump properties they manage.

  • DetectionSpeedy terahertz-based system could detect explosives

    By Larry Hardesty

    Terahertz spectroscopy, which uses the band of electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and infrared light, is a promising security technology because it can extract the spectroscopic “fingerprints” of a wide range of materials, including chemicals used in explosives. Spectroscopic system with chip-scale lasers cuts detection time from minutes to microseconds.

  • Water securityChanging land uses in California will drive water needs beyond available supply

    If past patterns of California land-use change continue, projected water needs by the year 2062 will increase beyond current supply. If historical trends of land use changes to or from urban, agricultural or other uses continue, the result will be increased water-use demand beyond what existing supplies can provide. Large uncertainties associated with weather and climate variability have the potential to exacerbate the problem.

  • Emerging threatsFrequency of extreme heat waves on the increase in Africa -- could soon occur annually

    Climate analysis shows that periods of unusually hot weather are on the rise for one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, even if the increase in global average temperature remains at a modest level.Longer, hotter, more regular heat waves could have a damaging effect on life expectancy and crop production in Africa warn climate say scientists.

  • Water securityWith drought easing, California rolls back water conservation rules

    California announced on Wednesday that it was rolling back mandatory water conservation rules which were put in place at the height of a 4-year drought. The decision to roll back the restrictions came after water conditions in many parts of the state have improved as a result of a wet winter.

  • TechnologyDHS S&T launches interactive Year in Review

    Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) has launched its annual Year in Review — an interactive, Web-based report providing a guided tour of S&T’s successes and developments in 2015.S&T’s Year in Review includes highlights from thirty-seven of S&T’s projects.The review includes an introduction on programs and initiatives and further discusses how S&T meets its mission and fits into the larger mission of the department.

  • Public healthMaryland identifies health vulnerabilities resulting from climate change

    As world leaders convened in Washington, D.C. a couple of weeks ago for the Climate Action 2016 summit, a new report by Maryland public health leaders details the impacts of climate change on the health of Marylanders now and in the future. The report examines the relationship between exposure to extreme weather events and risk of selected health outcomes including food and waterborne illnesses, hospitalization for heart attacks and asthma, and motor vehicle accidents.

  • Cybersecurity educationCybersecurity cracks the undergraduate curriculum

    In a time when million-dollar security breaches of household name corporations regularly make headlines and complicate lives, computer science undergraduates at America’s universities remain surprisingly underexposed to basic cybersecurity tactics. the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP), a national cybersecurity facility housed at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, Wisconsin, has been working to address this skills gap by offering a suite of software security tools that Bowie State has been integrating into undergraduate coding courses, giving students a way to examine and rid their code of security weaknesses.

  • Emerging threatTrend continues: April 2016 the seventh consecutive warmest month on record

    April 2016 was the warmest April on record for the globe, according to NASA. every month from October 2015 to April 2016 has now been warmer by 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1951-1980 average. Parts of Alaska, Russia, western Greenland, and northern Africa had a temperature deviation of at least 4 degrees Celsius above the April average.