• A single oil field a key culprit in global ethane gas increase

    A single U.S. shale oil field is responsible for much of the past decade’s increase in global atmospheric levels of ethane, a gas that can damage air quality and impact climate, according to a new study. The researchers found that the Bakken Formation, an oil and gas field in North Dakota and Montana, is emitting roughly 2 percent of the globe’s ethane. This is about 250,000 tons per year.

  • New Web portal for coastal resilience

    William & Mary Law School and William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) are collaborating on a new Web site which will provide key information to support local, regional, and state efforts to adapt to sea-level rise. Tidal and storm surge flooding risks, FEMA flood zone maps, storm history, and critical infrastructure risk assessments are all topics that are likely to be included on the Web site. Information about conditions of shorelines, wetlands, beaches, and coastal forests will also be in the portal.

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  • 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.

  • DHS, NASA collaborate in search of innovation in homeland security

    Crowdsourcing and incentive prizes across industry have led to the successful creation of advanced technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and improved data analytics. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is expanding its efforts to solicit innovations like these through its partnership with NASA.

  • Global warming could help crops’ productivity

    Many scientists fear that global warming will hit staple food crops hard, with heat stress, extreme weather events, and water shortages. On the other hand, higher levels of carbon dioxide — the main cause of ongoing warming — is known to boost many plants’ productivity, and reduce their use of water. So, if we keep pouring more CO2 into the air, will crops fail, or benefit? A new study tries to disentangle this complex question. It suggests that while greater warmth will reduce yields of some crops, higher CO2 could help mitigate the effects in some regions, unless other complications of global warming interfere.

  • 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.

  • Robot offers safer, more efficient way to inspect power lines

    Currently, line crews have to suit up in protective clothing, employ elaborate safety procedures, and sometimes completely shut off the power before inspecting a power line. It can be difficult, time-consuming, and often dangerous work. Researchers have invented a robot which could change the way power lines are inspected — providing a safer and more cost-effective alternative.

  • Coded apertures improves, shrinks mass spectrometers for field use

    A modern twist on an old technology could soon help detect rogue methane leaks, hidden explosives, and much more. Mass spectrometers were invented in the 1930s, and they are still typically the size of an oven or refrigerator. Inherent hurdles to miniaturization have made it difficult to use them outside of a laboratory. Researchers are using software to dramatically improve the performance of chemical-sniffing mass spectrometers. With the help of modern data analytics, researchers have demonstrated a technology using a so-called “coded aperture” that promises to shrink these devices while maintaining their performance.

  • Fossil fuels could be phased out worldwide in a decade: Study

    The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to energy experts. The experts analyzed energy transitions throughout history, and argue that only looking toward the past can often paint an overly bleak and unnecessary picture. The transition from wood to coal in Europe, for example, took between 96 and 160 years, whereas electricity took 47 to 69 years to enter into mainstream use. The future could be different: the scarcity of resources, the threat of climate change, and vastly improved technological learning and innovation could greatly accelerate a global shift to a cleaner energy future.

  • New way to clean contaminated groundwater

    A team of researchers has helped discover a new chemical method to immobilize uranium in contaminated groundwater, which could lead to more precise and successful water remediation efforts at former nuclear sites. Uranium is present in contaminated groundwater at various sites in the United States as a legacy of Cold War-era processing and waste disposal activities associated with nuclear materials production.

  • Registration opens for U.S. Cyber Challenge’s annual Cyber Quests competition

    U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) on Monday opened registration for the 2016 Cyber Quests online competition. The annual Cyber Quests competition determines who qualifies for the USCC Summer Cyber Camps, a leading nationwide program in cybersecurity workforce development.

  • Non-state actors exploiting emerging technologies, complex engineering

    In a special issue of the Journal of Strategic Security, experts explore the threat of violent non-state actors (VNSAs) exploiting emerging technologies and executing complex engineering operations to facilitate their violent and criminal activities. The special issue of the journal presents the results of a series of case studies of VNSAs and their attempts to increase their capabilities through engaging in sophisticated engineering efforts.

  • Pressure mounts to keep human control over killer robots

    Fully autonomous weapons would go a step beyond existing remote-controlled drones as they would be able to select and engage targets without human intervention. Although these weapons do not exist yet, the rapid movement of technology from human “in-the-loop” weapons systems toward “out-of-the-loop” systems is attracting international attention and concern. Countries should retain meaningful human control over weapons systems and ban fully autonomous weapons, also known as “killer robots,” Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic said in a new report. The concept of meaningful human control will be a centerpiece of deliberations at a week-long multilateral meeting on the weapons, opening 11 April 2016, at the United Nations in Geneva.

  • Sea Hunter, world’s first robot warship

    At the Pentagon nowadays, you are starting to see robots everywhere. They dispose of bombs, and throw out the occasional first pitch. They help Marines improve their target shooting. And, if they are human-robot teams that entered last year’s DARPA Robotic Challenged Finals, they drive vehicles, use tools, open doors, climb stairs, and do all sorts of other things. Now another robot — one designed and built by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) — happens to be the very first robot warship.