• Quantifying climate-driven impacts on the Colorado Basin, developing response strategies

    The Colorado basin — roughly 11 percent of the United States — directly supports water supply for more than thirty million people, accounts for approximately 15 percent of U.S. crops and livestock, and provides 53 gigawatts of power generation capacity. Climate-driven heat-stress and forest mortality on the Colorado River watershed are expected to reduce river flows basin-wide out to the year 2100.

  • Mathematics helps search and rescue ships sail more safely in heavy seas

    Fast ships deliver all kinds of services in fields such as disaster response, the fight against crime, the provision of supplies for oil and gas platforms, and the transportation of wind farm maintenance personnel. Each year, however, around 100 such ships worldwide are lost or damaged in heavy seas, with around 2,500 casualties in 2013. A unique new computer model built on highly complex mathematics could make it possible to design safer versions of the “fast ships” widely used in search-and-rescue, anti-drugs, anti-piracy, and many other vital offshore operations.

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  • To avoid multiple climate tipping points, CO2 emissions should be stopped by 2050: Study

    To avoid multiple climate tipping points, policy makers need to act now to stop global CO2 emissions by 2050 and meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, a new study has said. The new research shows that existing studies have massively under-valued the risk that ongoing carbon dioxide emissions pose of triggering damaging tipping points.

  • 2015 made history with record heat, weather extremes: WMO

    The year 2015 made history, with shattered temperature records, intense heatwaves, exceptional rainfall, devastating drought, and unusual tropical cyclone activity, according to the World Meteorological Organization. That record-breaking trend has continued in 2016. The global average surface temperature in 2015 broke all previous records by a wide margin, at about 0.76° Celsius above the 1961-1990 average because of a powerful El Niño and human-caused global warming. With 93 percent of excess heat stored in the oceans, ocean heat content down to 2,000 meters also hit a new record.

  • Expanding use of recycled water would benefit the environment, human health

    More than 1 in 9 people around the world, about 750 million, do not have access to safe, clean drinking water, and the problem is expected to worsen in step with rising greenhouse gas concentrations, population increases and climate change. Researchers found that found that recycled water has great potential for more efficient use in urban settings and to improve the overall resiliency of the water supply.

  • February global temperature sets new record for the globe

    The average temperature for the globe during December-February was 2.03°F above the twentieth century average. This was the highest temperature for December-February in the 1880-2016 record. February 2016 also marks the tenth consecutive month in which a monthly global temperature record has been broken. Record warmth across the globe was aided by a strong El Niño which peaked during the winter.

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  • Rare earth minerals are in short supply, so researchers seek to extract them from coal

    With supplies growing scarce of essential materials needed to make products ranging from smart phones to windmills, researchers are working with academic and industry partners in a $1 million pilot project to recover rare earth elements from coal. The pilot effort is important because rare earth materials, used to create powerful permanent magnets in products as common as computer hard drives to electric motors, are in increasingly short supply, particularly heavy rare earth elements.

  • Up to 70 percent of Northeast U.S. coast likely to adapt to rising seas

    Much of the coast from Maine to Virginia is more likely to change than to simply drown in response to rising seas during the next seventy years or so, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study is based on a new computer model that captures the potential of the Northeast coast to change, driven by geological and biological forces, in ways that will reshape coastal landscapes.

  • Identifying national security threats posed by everyday commercial technologies

    For decades, U.S. national security was ensured in large part by a simple advantage: a near-monopoly on access to the most advanced technologies. Increasingly, however, off-the-shelf equipment developed for the transportation, construction, agricultural, and other commercial sectors features highly sophisticated components, which resourceful adversaries can modify or combine to create novel and unanticipated security threats. DARPA’s “Improv” effort asks the innovation community to identify commercial products and processes that could yield unanticipated threats.

  • Helping policymakers plan for sea level rise

    A new study could help protect more than thirteen million American homes that will be threatened by rising sea levels by the end of the century. It is the first major study to assess the risk from rising seas using year 2100 population forecasts for all 319 coastal counties in the continental U.S. Previous impact assessments use current population figures to assess long-term effects of coastal flooding. The data can help policymakers develop practical adaptation strategies for protecting land threatened by frequent and repeated inundation.

  • Microwave repairs might annihilate zombie potholes once and for all

    Some potholes are like zombies – they never die. Or at least that’s the perception of much of the driving public, especially as we enter peak pothole season: late winter and early spring. Recurring “zombie” potholes are too often a reflection of the type of method that’s used to patch or “fix” them – many of which are short-lived and only marginally effective. Researchers around the world are working to develop better and longer lasting repair alternatives. Microwave technology is not yet a routine method of repair, and it’s best-suited for potholes in asphalt rather than concrete. But this approach merits further consideration. After all, given our nation’s aging network of roads, zombie potholes will continue to flourish. Microwave repair could be an effective method for keeping them at bay.

  • New rule permits STEM graduates to stay in U.S. for 36 months

    A new rule published by DHS this week allows foreign students in science and technology to extend their stay in the United States under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The new rule will go into effect in May, and it will allow STEM graduates to stay and work in the United States for up to thirty-six months.

  • New laser-based aircraft tracking system to aid in disaster relief efforts

    A ground-breaking tracking system called HYPERION, based on eye-safe lasers, could enable aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and even orbiting satellites to transmit vital data to ground stations more securely, quickly and efficiently. HYPERION, offering major benefits compared with the traditional radio frequency (RF) data transmission systems currently relied on in the UAV sector, could allow UAVs engaged in disaster monitoring, surveying, search and rescue, and other humanitarian missions to send detailed images more rapidly back to the ground for analysis.

  • Warmer spring temperatures reduce Colorado River flows

    Warmer-than-average spring temperatures reduce upper Colorado River flows more than previously recognized, according to a new report. The study, the first to examine the instrumental historical record, discovers that temperature has played a larger role in streamflow and in exacerbating drought since the 1980s.

  • Miniaturized fuel cell makes drones fly more than one hour

    Drones are used for various applications such as aero picturing, disaster recovery, and delivering. Despite attracting attention as a new growth area, the biggest problem of drones is its small battery capacity and limited flight time of less than an hour. A newly developed fuel cell can solve this problem.