• How a new source of water is helping reduce conflict in the Middle East

    Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. This remarkable turnaround was helped by increasing conservation and re-use – but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination. Moreover, scientists and others look to desalination as a way to unite longtime enemies in a common cause.

  • July 2016 was the warmest month since modern record-keeping began in 1880

    July 2016 was the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping, which began in 1880. The record warm July continued a streak of ten consecutive months dating back to October 2015 that have set new monthly high-temperature records.

  • Climate change to increase health risks from wildfires in U.S. West

    A surge in major wildfire events in the western United States as a consequence of climate change will expose tens of millions of Americans to high levels of air pollution in the coming decades. The researchers estimated air pollution from past and projected future wildfires in 561 western counties, and found that by mid-century more than eighty-two million people will experience “smoke waves,” or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.

  • Assessing crop damage after extreme weather

    The Philippines is host to six to nine tropical cyclones per year since 1970, and a citizenry that consumes more rice than it produces. The Philippines has for many years augmented its homegrown supply of rice with imports based on seasonal climate forecasts and agricultural production surveys. But import orders must be modified on the fly when extreme weather events exact a heavier toll on production than expected. New method to track the impact of typhoons and other natural disasters could enable more precise, timely delivery of food aid.

  • Increasing the number of American engineers, scientists

    Over the past several years, the U.S. has ranked low among other nations in numbers of students proficient in math and science, as well as skilled workers in those fields. According to researchers, American students are perfectly capable and interested in entering those fields, but are not being encouraged to pursue a STEM career. The researchers identifies factors that could lead more young students to successful careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

  • Climate change already accelerating sea level rise

    Greenhouse gases are already having an accelerating effect on sea level rise, but the impact has so far been masked by the cataclysmic 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, according to a new study. Satellite observations, which began in 1993, indicate that the rate of sea level rise has held fairly steady at about three millimeters per year. But the expected acceleration due to climate change is likely hidden in the satellite record because of a happenstance of timing: The record began soon after the Pinatubo eruption, which temporarily cooled the planet, causing sea levels to drop.

  • Aliens may be building megastructures around a star to harvest energy: Astrophysicists

    There is something strange happening with a star named KIC 8462852, leading astronomers to suggest that perhaps what we are witnessing is a huge alien megastructure being built around the star. Scientists last year said that KIC 8462852 appeared to be getting darker with no clear or obvious explanation. Some went on to suggest that the flickering and dimming of the star were the result of an alien megastructure being built around it. The purpose of the megastructure? Energy harvesting.

  • Texas, UT ask judge to throw out lawsuit challenging campus carry

    The Texas Attorney General’s Office and University of Texas at Austin on Monday asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by three UT-Austin professors seeking to keep guns out of their classrooms despite the state’s new campus carry law. Three professors have argued that the law, which went into effect 1 August, will stifle discussion in their classrooms. The professors say they fear that guns present during class discussions will cause people to censor themselves out of concerns for their safety.

  • Young engineers compete for RoboSubs

    After months of planning, building, programming, testing, and tweaking, it all came to down to this one moment — the 19th annual International RoboSub Competition, held in San Diego, California, 25-30 July.

    Forty-six teams competed in this year’s event. The robotics contest challenges students to design, build and race submarines through a complex obstacle course, where points are awarded for the number and difficulty of successfully completed mission tasks.

  • SayVU security app – developed by a BGU graduate student -- deployed at Rio Olympics

    A new app, SayVU, conceived as a graduate student project at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is being deployed at the 2016 Rio Olympics. International Security & Defense Systems (ISDS), the security integrator for the Olympics, selected SayVU as one of the Israeli technologies being used to protect attendees. SayVU enables a user to send a distress signal to an emergency hotline even if a phone is locked and without having to access the application. The message can be sent in a number of ways; shaking the device, tapping the camera button, or simply speaking into the phone.

  • Worst flooding since 1998 leaves $33 billion economic toll in China

    The new Global Catastrophe Recap report, covering July 2016 disasters, reveals that much of China endured substantial seasonal “Mei-Yu” rainfall that led to a dramatic worsening of flooding along the Yangtze River Basin and in the country’s northeast. Total combined economic losses were estimated at $33 billion. Meanwhile, the United States recorded six separate outbreaks of severe convective storms and flash flooding from the Rockies to the East Coast. Total combined economic losses were minimally estimated at $1.5 billion. Only 2 percent of China damage is covered by insurance, compared to nearly 70 percent for U.S. storms.

  • $40 million funding opportunity for homeland security quantitative analysis COE

    DHS S&T the other day announced a $40 million funding opportunity for an institution to lead a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Homeland Security Quantitative Analysis. This new COE will conduct end user-focused research to enhance the application of analytic tools that support real-time decision making and address homeland security-related threats and hazards.

  • Melting ice sheet could release frozen cold war-era radioactive waste

    Camp Century, a U.S. military base built within the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1959, was decommissioned in 1967, and its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall. But climate change has warmed the Arctic more than any other region on Earth, and as portion of the ice sheet covering Camp Century melt, the camp’s infrastructure will become exposed, and any remaining biological, chemical, and radioactive waste could re-enter the environment.

  • Making climate change summaries suitable for “grownups,” but accessible to policymakers

    Researchers examined the writing and editing procedures by which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change creates summaries of their findings for policymakers. Despite recent critiques that these summaries are too difficult for non-experts, the researchers found them comparable to reference texts in terms of reading comprehension level. Nevertheless, the researchers also suggest ways that the summary reports could be improved by using less jargon and more cohesive language to link the ideas they contain.

  • “Liquid fingerprinting” technique identifies unknown liquids instantly

    A new company — Validere — will commercialize sensing technology invented at Harvard University that can perform instant, in-field characterization of the chemical make-up and material properties of unknown liquids. Validere aims to develop the licensed technology, called Watermark Ink (W-INK), into a pocket-sized device that could be used by first responders to quickly identify chemical spills, or by officials to verify the fuel grade of gasoline right at the pump.