• Emerging threatsChanging climate caused giant Middle East dust storm, not human conflict

    In August 2015, a dust storm blanketed large areas of seven Middle East nations in a haze of dust and sand thick enough to obscure them from satellite view. The storm led to several deaths, thousands of cases of respiratory ailments and injuries, and canceled airline flights and closed ports. At the time, the storm’s unusual severity was attributed to the ongoing civil war in Syria. Now, researchers who experienced the storm while in Lebanon, have found a more likely cause for the unprecedented storm — it was not human conflict, but a combination of climatic factors and unusual weather.

  • Emerging threatsNew framework needed for estimating the social cost of carbon: Report

    To estimate the social cost of carbon dioxide for use in regulatory impact analyses, the federal government should use a new framework that would strengthen the scientific basis, provide greater transparency, and improve characterization of the uncertainties of the estimates, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences. The report also identifies a number of near- and longer-term improvements that should be made for calculating the social cost of carbon.

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  • HSNW conversation with Kathleen GriggsGunshot localization system improves emergency services response to active shooter events

    Kathleen Griggs is president of Databuoy. Databuoy Corporation began in 2006 as a defense contracting company specializing in event-driven command and control operations. It has now realigned itself to focus on public safety in the private sector. Databuoy Corporation’s ShotPoint gunshot localization system is a technology aiming to improve the response of emergency services to an active shooter event. ShotPoint uses networked acoustic sensors that automatically detect, locate, and reports the exact time and location of the source of gunfire.

  • Water securityChanging rainfall patterns linked to water security in India

    Changing rainfall is the key factor driving changes in groundwater storage in India, according to a new study. The study shows that changing monsoon patterns—which are tied to higher temperatures in the Indian Ocean—are an even greater driver of change in groundwater storage than the pumping of groundwater for agriculture.

  • Emerging threatsShort-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise

    By Jennifer Chu

    Even if there comes a day when the world completely stops emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, coastal regions and island nations will continue to experience rising sea levels for centuries afterward, according to a new study. Researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds — greenhouse gases such as methane, chlorofluorocarbons, or hydrofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades — can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.

  • TornadoesMore frequent large-scale tornado outbreaks

    The frequency of large-scale tornado outbreaks is increasing in the United States, particularly when it comes to the most extreme events, according to new research. The researchers found that the increase in tornado outbreaks does not appear to be the result of a warming climate as earlier models suggested. Instead, their findings tie the growth in frequency to trends in the vertical wind shear found in certain supercells—a change not so far associated with a warmer climate.

  • FloodsFlood risks changing across U.S.

    The risk of flooding in the United States is changing regionally, and the reasons could be shifting rainfall patterns and the amount of water in the ground. Engineers determined that, in general, the threat of flooding is growing in the northern half of the U.S. and declining in the southern half. The American Southwest and West, meanwhile, are experiencing decreasing flood risk.

  • ResilienceAssessing climate resiliency of more than 250 U.S. cities

    The University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) has announced it will assess the climate vulnerability and readiness of every U.S. city with a population over 100,000 — more than 250 in all — in an effort to help inform decisions by city officials on infrastructure, land use, water resources management, transportation and other adaptive strategies. The Urban Adaptation Assessment (UAA) will also integrate a social equity analysis, which will investigate how vulnerable groups are disproportionately harmed by climate hazards, such as extreme heat, flooding and extreme cold.

  • Water securityGroundwater resources around the world could be depleted by 2050s

    Human consumption could deplete groundwater in parts of India, southern Europe, and the United States in the coming decades, according to new research presented at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. New modeling of the world’s groundwater levels finds aquifers — the soil or porous rocks that hold groundwater — in the Upper Ganges Basin area of India, southern Spain, and Italy could be depleted between 2040 and 2060.

  • WildfiresThe origins of Tennessee’s recent wildfires

    Wildfires raged recently through the foothills of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, fueled by severe drought and high winds in the eastern part of the state. The fires damaged or destroyed more than 1,400 structures, including homes, chapels, and resort cabins. Fourteen people were killed, and nearly 150 others were injured. Last week, two juveniles were taken into custody and charged with aggravated arson in connection with the deadly wildfires – but sources such as Climate Central suggested that rising temperatures may have played a role in the fires. Does climate change play a role in determining the frequency and intensity of wildfires?

  • Food securityDust Bowl would devastate today’s crops: Study

    A drought on the scale of the legendary Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930s would have similarly destructive effects on U.S. agriculture today, despite technological and agricultural advances, a new study finds. Additionally, warming temperatures could lead to crop losses at the scale of the Dust Bowl, even in normal precipitation years by the mid-twenty first century.

  • Extreme weather eventsFreezing in record lows may raise doubts about global warming

    If you are shivering from unusually teeth-rattling cold this holiday season, global warming is probably the last thing on your mind. “The local weather conditions people experience likely play a role in what they think about the broader climate,” says one expert. “Climate change is causing record-breaking heat around the world, but the variability of the climate means that some places are still reaching record-breaking cold. If you’re living in a place where there’s been more record cold weather than record heat lately, you may doubt reports of climate change.”

  • Coastal resilienceAccelerating sea level rise requires collaborative response: Experts

    Recent estimates suggest that global mean sea level rise could exceed two meters by 2100. The projections pose a challenge for scientists and policymakers alike, requiring far-reaching decisions about coastal policies to be made based on rapidly evolving projections with large, persistent uncertainties. Policymakers and scientists must thus act quickly and collaboratively to help coastal areas better prepare for rising sea levels globally, say climate change experts.

  • Emerging threatsClimate engineering uncertainties limit its use in slowing climate change

    Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques. A new suggests that the uncertainties associated with climate engineering are too great for it to provide an alternative to the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Coastal resilienceAccelerating sea level rise threatens communities, infrastructure in NY, NJ, Conn.

    Parts of the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut metropolitan area are at risk of being permanently flooded by sea level rise. A new study details the severe threats posed to the region’s bay areas, coastal urban centers, beach communities, and airports and seaports by as little as one foot of sea level rise, a possibility as soon as the 2030s. Sea level rise already has begun to affect communities and critical infrastructure in the region, and presents tough decisions for vulnerable areas.