• Global warming damages U.S. economy, increases inequality

    Unmitigated climate change will make the United States poorer and more unequal, according to a new study. The pioneering study is the first of its kind to price warming using data and evidence accumulated by the research community over decades. From this data, the researchers estimate that for each 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.55 degrees Celsius) increase in global temperatures, the U.S. economy loses about 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product, with each degree of warming costing more than the last.

  • Drones that drive

    Being able to both walk and take flight is typical in nature — many birds, insects, and other animals can do both. If we could program robots with similar versatility, it would open up many possibilities: Imagine machines that could fly into construction areas or disaster zones that aren’t near roads and then squeeze through tight spaces on the ground to transport objects or rescue people. Researchers from MIT are aiming to develop robots that can both maneuver around on land and take to the skies.

  • As melting of Greenland ice sheet intensifies, sea level rise accelerates

    A new study says that the pace of sea level rise has increased significantly over the past quarter-century, with the thawing of Greenland’s ice sheet playing a major role in the steady rise of the oceans. The study said that Greenland’s ice sheet accounted for more than 25 percent of sea level rise in 2014, compared to just 5 percent in 1993.

  • Rising seas could create 2 billion refugees by 2100

    In the year 2100, 2 billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to new research. Feeding that population will require more arable land even as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas, driving people to seek new places to dwell.

  • Studying public reaction before and after a terror attack

    It is a rare opportunity when public policy professionals have information at their fingertips for comparing public views around a traumatic event before implementing new policies. A new study examine how those exposed to local terrorist acts through media sources perceive the risk of terrorism before and immediately after an event—and discuss how that difference in perception may shape measures that are proposed in response.

  • Fact Check: is the type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower actually banned in Britain?

    Cladding was added on tower blocks built in the 1960s and 1970s such as Grenfell Tower to improve the thermal performance of the flats and in some cases prevent material deteriorating and falling from the existing facades. These flats are often homes to some of the poorest in society and improving the facades may cut their energy bills to less than a half. This also means that they can adequately heat their homes to avoid condensation and mold growth inside. After the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, the Metropolitan Police is considering whether to bring manslaughter (or other) charges relating to the tower block’s insulation, which it says failed safety tests.

  • New subsidence map highlights sinking Louisiana coast

    Researchers at Tulane University have developed a subsidence map of coastal Louisiana, putting the rate at which this region is sinking at just over one third of an inch per year. The map, published in GSA Today, has long been considered the “holy grail” by researchers and policy makers as they look for solutions to the coastal wetland loss crisis, the researchers said.

  • Climate can rapidly change at tipping points

    A new study shows that gradual changes in the atmospheric CO2 concentration can induce abrupt climate changes. During the last glacial period, within only a few decades, the influence of atmospheric CO2 on the North Atlantic circulation resulted in temperature increases of up to 10 degrees Celsius in Greenland – as indicated by new climate calculations from researchers.

  • Mission to discover habitable Earths launched

    Mission to discover Earth-sized planets and super-Earths in the habitable zone of the solar system has been given the go-ahead by European Space Agency. PLATO will be launched 1.5 million km into space — and will monitor thousands of bright stars over a large area of the sky, looking for regular dips in brightness as planets pass by them. It will investigate seismic activity in some of the host stars, and determine their masses, sizes and ages — with unprecedented accuracy. The mission could lead to discovery of extra-terrestrial life.

  • Deadly heatwaves on the rise

    Seventy-four percent of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2100 if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, according to a new study. Even if emissions are aggressively reduced, the percent of the world’s human population affected is expected to reach 48 percent. “We are running out of choices for the future,” says one expert. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible.”

  • U.S. still first in science, but China rising fast as funding stalls in U.S., other countries

    American scientific teams still publish significantly more biomedical research discoveries than teams from any other country, a new study shows, and the United States still leads the world in research and development expenditures. But American dominance is slowly shrinking, the analysis finds, as China’s skyrocketing investing on science over the last two decades begins to pay off. Chinese biomedical research teams now rank fourth in the world for total number of new discoveries published in six top-tier journals, and the country spent three-quarters what the United States spent on research and development during 2015.

  • Grenfell fire aftermath: how 20th-century buildings can be made safer, not more dangerous

    Despite the horror of the fire at Grenfell Tower, UK regulations for tall buildings are ahead of the curve in comparison with other countries. There have been huge improvements in construction materials and technological solutions throughout the modern era. And testing and certification methods have became even more rigorous, to ensure the quality of new products. Of course, many people are now asking what more could have been done to prevent the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell blaze. The truth is, while architects and engineers can work to mitigate the risk of fire, it cannot be completely eliminated. The addition of some materials to buildings, such as cladding, will obviously now come under scrutiny. But there are several improvements that can be made to old 20th-century tower blocks like Grenfell, to make them safer places to live.

  • Grenfell Tower disaster: how did the fire spread so quickly?

    In the middle of the night, while most residents were sleeping, a devastating fire started at Grenfell Tower in London. From an engineering perspective, there are a number of factors in the design of the 24-storey tower block that may have contributed to the speed and scale of the blaze. Most of the current guidelines across the world contain detailed design requirements for fire safety such as evacuation routes, compartmentation and structural fire design. But Grenfell Tower was built in 1974. At that time, the rules and regulations were not as clear and well-developed as they are now.

  • New materials to make buildings better, safer

    A new type of construction material, called cross-laminated timber, is currently approved for buildings with up to six stories. Designers would like to use it in taller buildings because it is environmentally sustainable and can speed the construction process. To use it for those taller buildings, the industry needs to understand how the timber would perform during a fire. NIST experiments are measuring the material’s structural performance and the amount of energy the timber contributes to the fire.

  • Navy tests new mine-detection drone

    The new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system is a portable, remote-controlled system that can detect buried or underwater mines during amphibious beach landings. It’s designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. MIW RAC consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device.