• California: New planning tools to prepare state for devastating climate change impact

    Warning that two-thirds of Southern California’s beaches could completely disappear and the average area burned by wildfires could nearly double by 2100, the State of California the other day released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which details new science on the devastating impacts of climate change and provides planning tools to support the state’s response.

  • A milestone for forecasting earthquake hazards

    Earthquakes pose a profound danger to people and cities worldwide, but with the right hazard-mitigation efforts, from stricter building requirements to careful zoning, the potential for catastrophic collapses of roads and buildings and loss of human lives can be limited. All of these measures depend on science delivering high-quality seismic hazard models. And yet, current models depend on a list of uncertain assumptions, with predictions that are difficult to test in the real world due to the long intervals between big earthquakes. Researchers have come up with a physics-based model that marks a turning point in earthquake forecasting.

  • Graphene laminated pipes reduce corrosion in the oil and gas industry

    Corrosion costs the oil and gas industry in the U.S. alone $1.4 billion. Researchers have discovered ways of using graphene to prolong the lifetime of pipes used in the oil and gas industry.

  • Belief in creationism, conspiracy theories both based on the same thinking error: study

    It is not uncommon to hear someone espouse the idea that “everything happens for a reason” or that something that happened was “meant to be.” Now, researchers have found that this kind of teleological thinking is linked to two seemingly unrelated beliefs: creationism, the belief that life on Earth was purposely created by a supernatural agent, and conspiracism, the tendency to explain historical or current events in terms of secret conspiracies or conspiracy theories.

  • Strategies in U.S. climate litigation

    The courts have played a central role in climate change policy, starting with a landmark Supreme Court case that led to the mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States. How do the courts address climate cases today? Who wins, who loses and what kinds of strategies make a difference in the courtroom? Pro-regulatory litigants more likely to win renewable energy and energy efficiency cases than those involving coal-fired power plants.

  • Plugging an antibiotic pump

    Each year in the U.S., at least 23,000 people die from infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Using computer modeling, researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are helping to develop the means to prevent some of those deaths.

  • Early warning system for tracking groundwater contamination

    Groundwater contamination is increasingly recognized as a widespread environmental problem. The most important course of action often involves long-term monitoring. But what is the most cost-effective way to monitor when the contaminant plumes are large, complex, and long-term, or an unexpected event such as a storm could cause sudden changes in contaminant levels that may be missed by periodic sampling?

  • Environmentally friendly farming can increase productivity

    A major new study, measuring a global shift towards more sustainable agricultural systems that provide environmental improvements at the same time as increases in food production, shows that the sustainable intensification of agriculture, a term that was once considered paradoxical, delivers considerable benefits to both farmers and the environment.

  • Making electronic documents more trustworthy

    Today, the expeditious delivery of electronic documents, messages, and other data is relied on for everything from communications to navigation. As the near instantaneous exchange of information has increased in volume, so has the variety of electronic data formats–from images and videos to text and maps. Verifying the trustworthiness and provenance of this mountain of electronic information is an exceedingly difficult task – especially since the software used to process electronic data is error-prone and vulnerable to exploitation through maliciously crafted data inputs, opening the technology and its underlying systems to compromise.

  • WiFi can detect weapons, bombs, chemicals in bags

    Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools and other public venues, according to a new study. Researchers  demonstrated how this low-cost technology could help security screening at public venues like stadiums, theme parks and schools.

  • New first-responder safety, efficiency systems on the way

    Two homeland security technologies will be developed jointly by American and Israeli companies to increase the safety and efficiency of first-responders — law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services —  after getting funding from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation. The technologies will build advanced technologies for victim location and radio communication.

  • Climate change, sea level rise to cause more devastating tsunamis worldwide

    As sea levels rise due to climate change, so do the global hazards and potential devastating damages from tsunamis, according to a new study. Even minor sea-level rise, by as much as a foot, poses greater risks of tsunamis for coastal communities worldwide.

  • Using data analytics to target human smugglers

    Human smuggling is big business. The financial cost can be as high as a few thousand dollars to cross the border from Mexico to the United States, while immigrants from China might pay tens of thousands for their cross-Pacific journey. Some estimates put illegal crossings at 350,000 per year—and that’s just coming over the U.S.-Mexican border. DHS S&T’s Igloo data analytics software program is currently in use by select units of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

  • Climate change and wildfires – how do we know if there is a link?

    Once again, the summer of 2018 in the Northern Hemisphere has brought us an epidemic of major wildfires. These burn forests, houses and other structures, displace thousands of people and animals, and cause major disruptions in people’s lives. To many people, it has become very clear that human-induced climate change plays a major role by greatly increasing the risk of wildfire. There is huge complexity and variability from one fire to the next, and hence the attribution can become complex. The way to think about this is from the standpoint of basic science – in this case, physics: Global warming does not cause wildfires, but it exacerbates the conditions which make wildfires more likely, thus raising the risk of wildfire.

  • What are coastal nuclear power plants doing to address climate threats?

    Flooding can be catastrophic to a nuclear power plant because it can knock out its electrical systems, disabling its cooling mechanisms and leading to overheating and possible meltdown and a dangerous release of radioactivity. At least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built just a few meters above sea level could be threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges. More than 20 flooding incidents have been recorded at U.S. nuclear plants since the early 1980s. A number of scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that climate change will impact coastal nuclear plants earlier and harder than the industry, governments, or regulatory bodies have expected, and that the safety standards set by national nuclear regulators and the IAEA are out of date and take insufficient account of the effects of climate change on nuclear power.