• Wildfires may double erosion across a quarter of western U.S. watersheds by 2050

    Wildfires, which are on the rise throughout the west as a result of prolonged drought and climate change, can alter soil properties and make it more vulnerable to erosion. A new study shows that the increase in wildfires may double soil erosion in some western United States by 2050, and all that dirt ends up in streams, clogging creeks and degrading water quality.

  • FBI delays release of interactive tool to identify violent extremists

    Facing criticism, the FBI has decided to delay the release of “Don’t Be a Puppet,” an interactive program aiming to help teachers and students identify young people who show signs of flirting with radicalism and violent extremism. The program was scheduled for release Monday (yesterday). Civil rights advocates and American Muslim leaders, invited by the agency to preview the program, harshly criticized it for focusing almost exclusively on Islamic extremism. They noted that practically all the mass school shootings – and most of the violence perpetrated by extremists — in the United States had nothing to do with Islamic militants.

  • Online tool maps terrorist networks, behavior over time

    To allow a better understanding of how terrorist organizations network and function over time, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has launched the Big Allied and Dangerous (BAAD) online platform. The tool features updated, vetted, and sourced narratives and relationship information and social network data on fifty of the most notorious terrorist organizations in the world since 1998, with additional network information on more than 100 organizations. The research team plans to expand the database and online platform to include more than 600 terrorist organizations.

  • Identifying students cognitively equipped to succeed in cybersecurity

    The University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL) will partner with the U.S. Air Force to conduct a two-year study designed to advance the cyber workforce. The Air Force says that by assessing abilities rather than knowledge, it will broaden its cyber pipeline while improving outcomes and maintaining a highly skilled workforce.

  • Online residential fire simulation tool for training firefighters

    Firefighting is not what it used to be. Whether it is a complex blaze raging in an urban high-rise or a seemingly straightforward single-level home fire, modern building construction and furnishings have made fighting fires more difficult: Flames burn hotter, produce more smoke, and spread more quickly. But fire research has advanced, too, and researchers are working with five major urban fire departments to build new knowledge on modern residential firefighting into game-based online simulations with an engaging, dynamic format.

  • Walking robots a step nearer

    Engineers suggests that they have achieved the most realistic robotic implementation of human walking dynamics that has ever been done, which may ultimately allow human-like versatility and performance. The system is based on a concept called “spring-mass” walking that was theorized less than a decade ago, and combines passive dynamics of a mechanical system with computer control. It provides the ability to blindly react to rough terrain, maintain balance, retain an efficiency of motion, and essentially walk like humans do.

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  • Study: Persian Gulf could experience deadly heat

    Detailed climate simulation shows that the Persian Gulf region would likely cross the threshold of survivability unless mitigation measures are taken. That tipping point involves a measurement called the “wet-bulb temperature” which combines temperature and humidity, reflecting conditions the human body could maintain without artificial cooling. That threshold for survival for more than six unprotected hours is 35 degrees Celsius, or about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to recently published research (the equivalent number in the National Weather Service’s more commonly used “heat index” would be about 165 F). The researchers say that hot summer conditions that now occur once every twenty days or so “will characterize the usual summer day in the future.”

  • Deadly extreme weather events to intensify, become more frequent over the next 50 years

    European heat wave of 2003, during which 35,000 people died. It was the most extreme event of its kind since 1500 AD. In May 2015, India was struck by a severe heat wave that killed more than 2,500 people. “Heat waves that [were once] expected to occur twice a century [are now], in the early 2000s, expected to occur twice a decade. Human influence has very likely at least doubled the likelihood of such an event,” says one expert.

  • Concrete innovation makes Seattle skyscraper stable

    All coupling beams in the 1.5 million-square-foot Lincoln Square Expansion — which includes luxury condos, a hotel, dining, retail and office space in two 450-foot towers in the heart of Seattle suburb Bellevue, Washington — are made of fiber-reinforced concrete using a unique design. These concrete coupling beams span doorways and windows, helping walls with such openings in them to function as a single structural unit, while bolstering the building as a whole against earthquakes. Traditionally, coupling beams are reinforced with a labyrinth of rebar, adding a great deal of time, cost and complexity to the construction process.

  • Steam thermography may compete with luminol in solving crimes

    Luminol gets trotted out pretty frequently on TV crime shows, but a new technique might someday compete with the storied forensics tool as a police procedural plot device and, perhaps more importantly, as a means of solving real crimes. Researchers developed what they term “steam thermography,” which has the ability to detect blood spots in all kinds of spots — even in spots where luminol cannot.

  • Climate change will reshape global economy: Study

    Unmitigated climate change is likely to reduce the income of an average person on Earth by roughly 23 percent in 2100, according to estimates contained in a new study. The findings indicate climate change will widen global inequality, perhaps dramatically, because warming is good for cold countries, which tend to be richer, and more harmful for hot countries, which tend to be poorer. In the researchers’ benchmark estimate, climate change will reduce average income in the poorest 40 percent of countries by 75 percent in 2100, while the richest 20 percent may experience slight gains.

  • September 2015, and January-September 2015, the warmest on record

    A new report from the National oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finds that September 2015 was the warmest month on record, with average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces reaching 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the twentieth century average. The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.53°F (0.85°C) above the twentieth century average. This was the highest for January–September in the 1880–2015 record.

  • U.S. should lead climate change fight to bolster global stability: U.S. defense, diplomacy leaders

    Forty-eight former U.S. leaders, both Republicans and Democrats – among them secretaries of state and defense, national security advisers, leaders of the intelligence community, diplomats, generals in all four branches of the armed services, senators, and members of the House of Representatives – have published an open letter in the Wall Street Journal which called on U.S. political and business leaders to “think past tomorrow” and lead the fight on climate change. The U.S. security establishment has long recognized the threat posed by climate change to U.S. national security, defining climate change as a “threat multiplier,” adding fuel to conflicts. Security experts and military leaders no longer regard climate change as only a threat multiplier, but rather as s serious danger on its own – with droughts, sea-level rise, food shortages, and extreme weather events triggering migration and armed conflicts.

  • California’s future: More frequent and more severe droughts and floods

    In the future, the Pacific Ocean’s temperature cycles could disrupt more than just December fishing. A new study suggests that the weather patterns known as El Nino and La Nina could lead to at least a doubling of extreme droughts and floods in California later this century.

  • Technology confronts disasters

    In 2010, soon after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, a team from MIT Lincoln Laboratory collected and analyzed information to help the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), the lead military agency responding to the crisis, effectively dispatch vital resources, including food, water, tents, and medical supplies, to the victims of this disaster. This Haiti experience demonstrated to Lincoln Laboratory researchers that advanced technology and technical expertise developed for the Department of Defense (DoD) can significantly benefit future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. In February, the Laboratory established the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Systems Group to explore ways to leverage or advance existing capabilities for improving disaster responses.