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.

  • Coastal resilienceMangroves help protect coasts against sea level rise

    Mangrove forests could play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise caused by climate change, according to new research. Taking New Zealand mangrove data as the basis of a new modelling system, the researchers were able to predict what will happen to different types of estuaries and river deltas when sea levels rise. They found areas without mangroves are likely to widen from erosion and more water will encroach inwards, whereas mangrove regions prevent this effect - which is likely due to soil building up around their mesh-like roots and acting to reduce energy from waves and tidal currents.

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  • EnergyWhere does solar energy stand, where does it need to go to fulfill its potential?

    Most experts agree that to have a shot at curbing the worst impacts of climate change, we need to extricate our society from fossil fuels and ramp up our use of renewable energy. The sun’s energy is unlimited, free and clean, and the amount that hits Earth in one hour is equal to the amount of energy used in one year by the entire planet. Yet, although installed global photovoltaic capacity increased almost nine-fold and the price of solar panels dropped by two-thirds between 2008 and 2013, only 1 percent of U.S. and global electricity generation come from solar energy. Where does solar energy stand today, and where does it need to go in order for us to make the transition to renewable energy?

  • CybersecurityFusion Centers important in promoting cybersecurity

    Fusion centers were created after 9/11 to serve as primary focal points for state, local, federal, tribal, and territorial partners to receive, analyze, and share threat-related information. States can promote cybersecurity and enhance their capabilities by heightening the importance of cybersecurity as a mission of fusion centers, according to a paper released the other day by the National Governors Association (NGA).

  • Radiation risksIs your fear of radiation irrational?

    By Geoff Watts

    Radioactivity stirs primal fears in many people, but that an undue sense of its risks can cause real harm. Invisible threats are always the most unnerving, and radiation is not something you can see. Nor can you control it. The traditional secrecy of the biggest commercial user of radiation, the nuclear power industry, hasn’t helped. A justified fear of high and uncontrolled levels of radiation has thus undermined our willingness to see that the risks it poses at low levels are either acceptable or manageable.

  • EnergyIntegrating renewable and nuclear power plants into the electrical grid

    “Electrical grids can work if, and only if, the amount of electricity inserted into the grid from power plants is matched, second by second, to the amount of electricity extracted from the grid by consumers.” If this does not happen there are black-outs. In order to maintain this equilibrium we must focus on two things: demand and supply of electricity into the grid. New research into sustainable energy systems focuses on integrating renewable and nuclear power plants into the electrical grid — a topic high on the agenda for scholars, industry, and policy makers.

  • CybersecurityTeams chosen for the 2016 DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge final competition

    Seven teams from around the country have earned the right to play in the final competition of DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC), a first-of-its-kind tournament designed to speed the development of automated security systems able to defend against cyberattacks as fast as they are launched. The CGC winners will be handsomely rewarded, but DARPA says that more important than the prize money is the fact that it ignites the cybersecurity community’s belief that automated cybersecurity analysis and remediation are finally within reach.

  • EnergyIntegrating renewable and nuclear power plants into the electrical grid

    “Electrical grids can work if, and only if, the amount of electricity inserted into the grid from power plants is matched, second by second, to the amount of electricity extracted from the grid by consumers.” If this does not happen there are black-outs. In order to maintain this equilibrium we must focus on two things: demand and supply of electricity into the grid. New research into sustainable energy systems focuses on integrating renewable and nuclear power plants into the electrical grid — a topic high on the agenda for scholars, industry, and policy makers.

  • BioterrorismKosovo’s capital cuts water supplies for fear of ISIS plot to poison reservoir

    Kosovo security and health authorities have cut off water supplies to tens of thousands of residents in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, following a suspicion that ISIS followers had poisoned the city’s water supplies. The city’s water board said supply was cut early on Saturday “because of security issues” and that supplies had been tested for suspicious substances. Police sources say that security officers patrolling the Badovac reservoir saw three of the men behaving suspiciously near the reservoir, and arrested them. They were later identified as ISIS supporters. Kosovar members of ISIS recently appeared in propaganda videos, warning of attacks against targets in the Balkans, including the water supplies of major cities.

  • Coastal resilienceSea levels have risen six meters or more with just slight global warming: Study

    A new review analyzing three decades of research on the historic effects of melting polar ice sheets found that global sea levels have risen at least six meters, or about twenty feet, above present levels on multiple occasions over the past three million years. What is most concerning, scientists say, is that amount of melting was caused by an increase of only 1-2 degrees (Celsius) in global mean temperatures. Six meters (or about twenty feet) of sea level rise does not sound like a lot. However, coastal cities worldwide have experienced enormous growth in population and infrastructure over the past couple of centuries — and a global mean sea level rise of ten to twenty feet could be catastrophic to the hundreds of millions of people living in these coastal zones.

  • EnergySuccessful test for open-sea pilot connecting power generated from waves, tides, and currents to the grid

    Marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, which generate power from waves, tides, or currents, are at an early but promising stage of development. Many coastal areas in the United States have strong wave and tidal resources, and more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within fifty miles of a coastline, making transmission from these resources more economical. With further progress toward commercialization, MHK technologies could make substantial contributions to our nation’s electricity needs.