Infrastructure

  • Seismic early warning$4 million awarded to support earthquake early warning system in Pacific Northwest

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) last week has awarded approximately $4 million to four universities — California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of Washington, and University of Oregon — to support transitioning the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning (EEW) system toward a production stage. A functioning early warning system can give people a precious few seconds to stop what they are doing and take precautions before the severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive.

  • ResilienceConfronting weather extremes by making infrastructure more resilient

    South Florida’s predisposition to weather extremes renders the region’s infrastructure acutely vulnerable. But weather extremes are not exclusive to South Florida. The Urban Resilience to Extreme Weather-Related Events Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN), a newly formed team of researchers, is addressing these challenges on an international scale.

  • GridForecasting tool reduces costly power grid errors

    Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. Now, a new forecasting tool that delivers up to a 50 percent increase in accuracy and the potential to save millions in wasted energy costs has been developed by researchers.

  • Coastal resilienceCoral reefs could protect Pacific islands from rising seas – but only if global warming slows

    The coral reefs that have protected Pacific Islanders from storm waves for thousands of years could grow rapidly enough to keep up with escalating sea levels if ocean temperatures do not rise too quickly, according to a new study. If global temperatures continue to rise and thus retard the growth of these natural storm barriers, the homelands of millions of people on lands throughout the Pacific Ocean will be in jeopardy.

  • Chemical plant safetyChemical plants provided incorrect information about toxic release risks: GAO

    A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends that federal agencies should more carefully verify information provided by chemical facilities and improve compliance with safety standards. DHS collected data on some 37,000 facilities handling dangerous chemicals, and identified 2,900 which were especially risky. Those plants, typically located near residential areas, posed more risk of mass casualty events in case of a terrorist- or accident-induced chemical release. The report criticizes DHS officials for relying on self-reported data — without checking and verifying the information chemical operators provided.

  • Chemical plant safetyCommunities near chemical plants should develop preparedness, response plans: Experts

    Researchers found that despite the 2007 passage of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), only a few chemical facilities have completed the necessary security measures implementation. The authors recommend that communities should not wait for CFATS to be implemented before developing their own preparedness and response plans in anticipation of possible chemical disasters in the future, whether caused by terrorism or accident.

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  • ChlorineNew guidance on estimating area affected by a chlorine release issued

    Arlington, Virginia-based Chlorine Institute (CI) has issued a new version of Pamphlet 74 - Guidance On Estimating the Area Affected By A Chlorine Release. The new version, Edition 6, dated June 2015, reflects CI’s collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Security Analysis Center and incorporates information obtained from the DHS “Jack Rabbit I” chlorine release field tests.  

  • CybersecurityU.S. military bases vulnerable to cyberattacks on their power, utility systems

    U.S. military bases are at risk for cyberattacks against the bases’ power grid and other utility systems, according to a new report on defense infrastructure from the Government Accounting Office. The 72-page GAO document concludes military bases “may be vulnerable to cyber incidents that could degrade operations and negatively impact missions.”

  • FloodsDifferent lessons from past floods

    More and more frequent extreme weather events lead to new projects on risk management and spatial planning. Past experiences represent an added value and suggest the importance of greater involvement of local communities. Luckily, past mistakes can sometimes be useful for present or especially future decisions. This can apply to spatial planning and management in response to natural disasters and extreme weather events.

  • CybersecurityIsrael bolsters cyber defenses to cope with an escalating number of cyberattacks

    In 2013, Israel’s grid was cyberattacked, on average, a few hundred times per hour. Last year the average hourly attacks on Israel’s grid was 20,000.The number of detected cyberattacks on Israel reached two million a day during the war with Hamas last summer. The Israeli government decided there was a need to reorganize and improve the cyberdefense systems protecting Israel’s critical infrastructure.

  • Urban resilienceStrengthening urban infrastructure to withstand extreme weather-related events

    A multi-disciplinary team of about fifty researchers from fifteen universities and other institutions will address the vulnerability of urban infrastructure to extreme weather related events, and ways of reducing that vulnerability. Funded under a $12 million research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the researchers will conduct their extensive work over the coming five years. In light of weather related extremes, such as increasing storm frequency and intensity, as well as climate uncertainties, this network will evaluate threats to transportation, electricity, water, and other services in major urban areas, and the social, ecological, and technical systems to protect infrastructure and increase its flexibility and adaptability, using new designs and technologies.

  • Coastal resilienceWashington, D.C. sinking fast, compounding threat of sea-level rise

    New research confirms that the land under the Chesapeake Bay is sinking rapidly and projects that Washington, D.C., could drop by six or more inches by the end of this century — adding to the problems of sea-level rise. This falling land will exacerbate the flooding that the nation’s capital faces from rising ocean waters due to a warming climate and melting ice sheets — accelerating the threat to the region’s monuments, roads, wildlife refuges, and military installations. “It’s ironic that the nation’s capital — the place least responsive to the dangers of climate change — is sitting in one of the worst spots it could be in terms of this land subsidence,” says one researcher. “Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter?”

  • WaterIsrael shares its approach, solutions to drought with California

    Israel has developed expertise in coping with droughts, and a delegation from Israeli water companies recently visited California, meeting with state officials and corporations to propose solutions to the drought, now in its fourth year. It was the latest in a series of consultations and symposiums highlighting Israeli water expertise and its potential to help California.

  • Earthquake-proofingSafer structures to withstand earthquakes, windstorms

    A new cyberinfrastructure effort funded by a $13.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation will help engineers build safer structures that can better withstand natural hazards such as earthquakes and windstorms. Researchers aim to build a software platform, data repository, and tools that will help the United States design more resilient buildings, levees, and other public infrastructure that could protect lives, property and communities.

  • Coastal resilienceSea level rise, storm surges increasing risk of “compound flooding” for major U.S. cities

    Scientists investigating the increasing risk of “compound flooding” for major U.S. cities have found that flooding risk is greatest for cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts when strong storm surge and high rainfall amounts occur together. While rising sea levels are the main driver for increasing flood risk, storm surges caused by weather patterns that favor high precipitation exacerbates flood potential.