• S&T selects RAND Corp. to operate new DHS research center

    DHS has selected the RAND Corporation to operate the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC), which will conduct technical and operational research and analysis to aid the department. The new center is a federally funded research and development center, and is funded under a five-year contract worth as much as $494.7 million.

  • Global warming could hit 2°C threshold by 2050

    Without additional action and advanced technologies, global emissions are expected to be 33 percent above the 2°C pathway in 2030, according to a new report. The 2°C target was formally agreed upon at the Paris climate talks in 2015, as an international target to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

  • Slowing the spread of infectious diseases

    Outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Zika increasingly threaten global public health. Scientists expect five such new diseases to emerge each year. To find out whether our interaction with the environment is somehow responsible, the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) program — a joint effort of the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — has awarded $16.6 million in new grants. The scientists receiving the grants will study disease transmission among humans, other animals, and environment.

  • Game theory research highlights fragility of common resources

    New research in game theory shows that people are naturally predisposed to over-use “common-pool resources” such as transportation systems and fisheries even if it risks failure of the system, to the detriment of society as a whole. The research could have implications for the management of engineered systems such as the power grid, communications systems, distribution systems, and online file sharing systems, along with natural systems such as fisheries.

  • Optimal strategies to cope with climate change depend on the pace of change

    What would we do differently if sea level were to rise one foot per century versus one foot per decade? Until now, most policy and research has focused on adapting to specific amounts of climate change and not on how fast that climate change might happen. Researchers, using sea-level rise as a case study, have developed a quantitative model that considers different rates of sea-level rise, in addition to economic factors, and shows how consideration of rates of change affect optimal adaptation strategies.

  • DHS awards U Texas San Antonio $3 million to develop, deliver cybersecurity training

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has selected a team led by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to develop and deliver cybersecurity training through the Continuing Training Grants (CTG) Program. The 2016 CTG is a $3 million grant to develop and deliver cybersecurity training to support the national preparedness goal to make the United States more secure and resilient.

  • Recent history of U.S. floods shows regional trends, but no national pattern

    A new study examined the recent history of floods in the United States for the time period 1940-2013. The scientists found some regional trends, but no widespread national pattern of flood change. “An important prerequisite for effective flood risk management is to have an accurate assessment of how flooding is changing over time,” said one researcher. “Of course, changes in climate as well as land- and water-use management are each potential sources of change in flooding frequency or magnitude. But the relative influence of these factors across broad areas has been difficult to discern.”

  • California's almond boom ramped up water use, consumed wetlands

    Converting land in California to grow water-hungry almonds between 2007 and 2014 has led to a 27 percent annual increase in irrigation demands — despite the state’s historic drought. The expansion of almonds has also consumed 16,000 acres of wetlands and will likely put additional pressure on already stressed honeybee populations.

  • Detecting sea-level rise acceleration to improve U.K. coastal flood defenses

    Accelerations in the rate of sea-level rise and the time required to upgrade coastal flood defense infrastructure, such as the Thames Barrier, will be investigated as part of a new research initiative. The E-Rise project will aim to better understand the likely lead times for upgrading or replacing coastal defense infrastructure around the United Kingdom during the twenty-first century. It will also assess whether we could detect sea-level accelerations earlier to provide sufficient lead time for action.

  • Damaging, costly extreme-weather winters are becoming more common in U.S.

    The simultaneous occurrence of warm winters in the West and cold winters in the East has significantly increased in recent decades. The damaging and costly phenomenon is very likely attributable to human-caused climate change, according to a new study. In the past three years alone the combination of heat-related drought in the West and Arctic conditions in the East have pinched the national economy, costing several billion dollars in insured losses, government aid and lost productivity. When such weather extremes occur at the same time, they threaten to stretch emergency responders’ disaster assistance abilities, strain resources such as interregional transportation, and burden taxpayer-funded disaster relief.

  • U.S. Navy, allies taking part in first-ever Unmanned Warrior joint exercise

    Autonomy and unmanned systems experts from across the naval science and technology (S&T) community will converge on the shores of the United Kingdom next month for the first-ever Unmanned Warrior joint exercise hosted by the British Royal Navy. The U.S. Navy contingent will experiment with ten technology projects to push the limits of maritime autonomous systems in real-world, challenging operational environments.

  • Insights on Deepwater Horizon disaster

    The soon-to-be-released thriller “Deepwater Horizon,” which opens in theaters 30 September, promises moviegoers a chilling reenactment of one of history’s worst oil rig disasters. One scholar of societal collapse will enter the theater with a big-picture view of the perfect storm of factors that led to the explosion and oil spill that killed eleven people and sent more than 200 million gallons of crude oil spewing toward the nation’s southern coastline for eighty-seven days.

  • Muslim schoolboys in Switzerland must shake hands with female teachers

    Amer Salhani, a 15-year-old Muslim schoolboy a school in Therwil, Switzerland has been told by a Swiss education authority that he must agree to shake hands with female teachers or face being fined and disciplined. Salhani lost his appeal after refusing to shake hands with a female teacher in April because, he argued, it would have violated his religious beliefs. He, and other students who refuse to shake teachers’ hands, will now be fined up to £4,000 if they fail to comply with the order.

  • NIST’s regional approach to addressing U.S. cybersecurity challenge

    NIST has awarded grants totaling nearly $1 million for five projects that are taking a community approach to addressing the U.S. shortage of skilled cybersecurity employees. The NIST-led National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a partnership among government, academia, and the private sector, will oversee the grants as part of its mission to support cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development.

  • Cleaning concrete contaminated with chemicals

    In March 1995, members of a Japanese cult released the deadly nerve agent sarin into the Tokyo subway system, killing a dozen people and injuring a thousand more. This leads to the question: What if a U.S. transportation hub was contaminated with a chemical agent? The hub might be shut down for weeks, which could have a substantial economic impact. Craig Tenney, a chemical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, is looking for better ways to clean contaminated concrete to reduce that impact.