• Senior defense officials discuss arctic, Antarctic science and research

    To address the need for collaborative research in the Polar Regions, Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Mat Winter met in Finland two weeks ago with counterparts from five nations in a first-ever gathering of senior defense officials to coordinate science and technology research in high latitudes. While the U.S. Navy has long experience with polar operations, changing climates present new challenges — particularly for surface ships, as new water passages open up.

  • Impact of climate change on agriculture may be underestimated

    Studies of how climate change might affect agriculture generally look only at crop yields — the amount of product harvested from a given unit of land. But climate change may also influence how much land people choose to farm and the number of crops they plant each growing season. A new study takes all of these variables into account, and suggests researchers may be underestimating the total effect of climate change on the world’s food supply.

  • Seeding iron on the Pacific’s floor may not pull carbon from air as thought

    Scientists plumbing the depths of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean have found ancient sediments suggesting that one proposed way to mitigate climate warming — fertilizing the oceans with iron to produce more carbon-eating algae — may not necessarily work as envisioned.

  • Four African innovators selected for engineering innovation prize

    Following an open, competitive, application process which saw entries from fifteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa, twelve African entrepreneurs were chosen to receive a package of six months of business training and mentoring from the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering. The four finalists showing the greatest promise have now been chosen, and are in with a chance to become the overall winner. Each will receive at least £10,000 with the grand prize of £25,000 to be awarded at a ceremony in Cape Town on 1 June. A low-cost sustainable water filter system to provide clean and safe drinking water, and a service that allows African mobile phone users to switch easily between multiple mobile networks are among the four African innovations selected by the Academy.

  • Syria’s 1998-2012 drought likely its most severe in more than 900 years

    In the years before the Syrian conflict erupted, the region’s worst drought on record set in across the Levant, destroying crops and restricting water supplies in the already water-stressed region. A new study shows that that drought, from 1998 to 2012, was not just the most severe in a century of record-keeping — it was the Levant’s most severe drought in at least 500 years and likely more than 900 years.

  • Applications solicited for funding of next-gen first-response technologies

    DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) says that applications are now being accepted through 9 March 2016 for the NextGen First Responder Technologies solicitation, an opportunity for joint-funding by DHS S&T and their partners in the Israeli Ministry of Public Security.

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  • Groundwater deficit growing in important western U.S. aquifers

    By 2050, climate change will increase the groundwater deficit even more for four economically important aquifers in the Western United States, a new report says. Groundwater deficits are expected to worsen in four important aquifers, creating a precarious balance between usage and recharge. The new report is the first to integrate scientists’ knowledge about groundwater in the American West with scientific models that show how climate change will affect the region.

  • Outbreaks of extreme tornados have become more common

    Most death and destruction inflicted by tornadoes in North America occurs during outbreaks — large-scale weather events that can last one to three days and span huge regions. The largest outbreak ever recorded happened in 2011. It spawned 363 tornadoes across the United States and Canada, killing more than 350 people and causing $11 billion in damage. A new study shows that the average number of tornadoes per outbreak has grown by more than 40 percent over the last half century. The likelihood of extreme outbreaks — those with many tornadoes — is also greater.

  • Climate change impact on food production could cause 500,000 extra deaths in 2050

    Climate change could kill more than 500,000 adults in 2050 worldwide due to changes in diets and bodyweight from reduced crop productivity. The research, published yesterday in The Lancet, is the strongest evidence yet that climate change could have damaging consequences for food production and health worldwide. The study found that by 2050, reduced fruit and vegetable intake could cause twice as many deaths as under-nutrition, and that three-quarters of all climate-related deaths due to changes in food production are estimated to occur in China and India.

  • DHS, DoE, U.S. Army test operational effectiveness of technology solutions

    Understanding the true potential of a new technology comes with the opportunity to deploy it in a real life, urban environment scenario against adaptive adversaries. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) collaborated with the U.S. Army to assess the operational effectiveness of twenty-five technologies through practical application.

  • Making sure that if extraterrestrial observers called, somebody hears

    The question of contact with others beyond Earth is hardly hypothetical, as several projects are under way, both to send signals from Earth and to search for signals that have been sent directly or have “leaked” around obstacles, possibly travelling for thousands of years. As scientists step up their search for other life in the universe, two astrophysicists are proposing a way to make sure we do not miss the signal if extraterrestrial observers try to contact us first.

  • Water storage strategies in Sub-Sahara Africa

    Direct abstraction of water from rivers through ponds and pumping devices seems the most attractive water storage option in Ethiopia. However, the funding agencies that may be interested in investing in such a storage system have to consider that better access to credit, and clear abstraction policies should be ensured.

  • In emergencies, don’t trust a robot too much

    In emergencies, people may trust robots too much for their own safety, a new study suggests. In a mock building fire, test subjects followed instructions from an “Emergency Guide Robot” even after the machine had proven itself unreliable — and after some participants were told that robot had broken down.

  • Calculating monetary losses from floods caused by sea level rise

    Damages from extreme events like floods are even more relevant than the mean sea level itself when it comes to the costs of climate impacts for coastal regions. However, while it is now rather well understood how sea-levels will rise in the future, only small progress has been made estimating how the implied damage for cities at the coasts will increase during the next decades. Scientists now provide a method to quantify monetary losses from coastal floods under sea-level rise. For the first time, the scientists show that the damage costs consistently increase at a higher rate than the sea-level rise itself.

  • Suicide bomb detector moves close to commercialization with Sandia engineer’s help

    On the chilling list of terrorist tactics, suicide bombing is at the top. Between 1981 and 2015, an estimated 5,000 such attacks occurred in more than 40 countries, killing about 50,000 people. The global rate grew from three a year in the 1980s to one a month in the 1990s to one a week from 2001 to 2003 to one a day from 2003 to 2015. R3 Technologies and a group of other small businesses are developing a way to prevent suicide attacks by detecting concealed bombs before they go off. R3 found a partner in Sandia sensor expert JR Russell who has helped bring the company’s Concealed Bomb Detector, or CBD-1000, close to commercialization over the past two years.