• Climate threats: MitigationClimate change will soon hit billions of people, and many cities are taking action

    By mid-century, billions of people in thousands of cities around the world will be at risk from climate-related heat waves, droughts, flooding, food shortages and energy blackouts, but many cities are already taking action to blunt such effects, says a new report from a consortium of international organizations.

  • Coastal perilAs coastal communities face more frequent, severe disruptions, costly choices loom

    Sea levels are rising. Tides are inching higher. High-tide floods are becoming more frequent and reaching farther inland. And hundreds of U.S. coastal communities will soon face chronic, disruptive flooding that directly affects people’s homes, lives, and properties. Long before rising seas permanently submerge properties, millions of Americans living in coastal communities will face more frequent and more severe disruptions from high-tide flooding. As this flooding increases, it will reach a threshold where normal routines become impossible and coastal residents, communities, and businesses are forced to make difficult, often costly choices.

  • Climate threatsHow will people move as climate changes?

    In coming decades, climate change is expected to displace millions of people through sea level rise, crop failures, more frequent extreme weather and other impacts. But scientists are still struggling to accurately predict how many climate migrants there will be, and where they are likely to go. A new study seeks to address these questions by incorporating climate impacts into a universal model of human mobility. The model also seeks to predict the effects migrants might have on the places to which they move.

  • ResilienceHow microgrids could boost resilience in New Orleans

    During Hurricane Katrina and other severe storms that have hit New Orleans, power outages, flooding and wind damage combined to cut off people from clean drinking water, food, medical care, shelter, prescriptions and other vital services. Researchers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories teamed up with the City of New Orleans to analyze ways to increase community resilience and improve the availability of critical lifeline services during and after severe weather.

  • Rising seasGlobal warming accelerating rise in sea levels

    A new study discovered that rising sea levels could be accelerated by vulnerable ice shelves in the Antarctic. The study discovered that the process of warmer ocean water destabilizing ice shelves from below is also cracking them apart from above, increasing the chance they’ll break off. “This study is more evidence that the warming effects of climate change are impacting our planet in ways that are often more dangerous than we perhaps had thought,” said one researcher.

  • Coastal floodingCoastal communities: Record number of high tide flooding days last year

    People living on the coast may see flooded sidewalks and streets more frequently this year due, in part, to El Nino conditions that are predicted to develop later this year, and from long-term sea level rise trends. Increased flooding trend is likely to continue: The projected increase in high tide flooding in 2018 may be as much as 60 percent higher across U.S. coastlines as compared to typical flooding about 20 years ago, according to NOAA scientists.

  • EarthquakesQuestions raised about the predictive value of earthquake foreshocks

    No one can predict when or where an earthquake will strike, but in 2011 scientists thought they had evidence that tiny underground tremors called foreshocks could provide important clues. If true, it suggested seismologists could one day warn people of impending temblors. A new study has cast doubt on those earlier findings and on the predictive value of foreshocks, and instead found them to be indistinguishable from ordinary earthquakes.

  • DamsMonitoring dams to protect waterfront communities

    Out of the approximately 90,000 dams in the United States, roughly 90 percent are state, municipal, or privately owned. Because the likelihood of a dam failure is expected to be minimal, communities and property owners surrounding dams might easily embrace their land as any other lake-side or ocean-side residence. The truth, however, is that if these dams were to fail, the volume and force of water could compare to a small tsunami affecting nearby towns and residences.

  • DamsSaving billions by removing dams rather than repairing them

    A new study finds billions of dollars could be saved if the nation’s aging dams are removed rather than repaired, but also suggests that better data and analysis is needed on the factors driving dam-removal efforts. Experts say that repairing and upgrading the 2,170 most high-hazard dams would cost $45 billion, and that shoring up all of the U.S. dams which need repairing would cost $64 billion. But removing the 36,000 most decrepit dams would cost only $25.1 billion.

  • Water securityWill London run out of water?

    By Edoardo Borgomeo

    The U.K.’s Environment Agency warns in a new report that England could suffer major water shortages by 2030 and that London is particularly at risk. The BBC agrees, placing London on its recent list of 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water along with the likes of Cape Town, where an ongoing water crisis has caused social and economic disruption. There are limits to what can be achieved just by fixing leaky pipes or getting people to water their lawns less often. Though such measures are useful, they will not safeguard London’s water supplies against the more extreme combinations of growth and climate change.

  • Security & privacyNIST updates Risk Management Framework to include privacy considerations

    Augmenting its efforts to protect the U.S. critical assets from cybersecurity threats as well as protect individuals’ privacy, NIST has issued a draft update to its Risk Management Framework (RMF) to help organizations more easily meet these goals.

  • InfrastructureChina’s trillion-dollar infrastructure program “riskiest environmental project in human history”

    Experts say that China’s plan to crisscross half of the Earth with massive transportation and energy projects is environmentally the riskiest venture ever undertaken. The experts urged China to undertake rigorous strategic planning before embarking on its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, which will ultimately span at least 64 nations across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific region.

  • Earthquake survivalEngineers solve the 500-year-old Leaning Tower of Pisa mystery

    Why has the Leaning Tower of Pisa survived the strong earthquakes that have hit the region since the middle ages? After studying available seismological, geotechnical and structural information, researchers concluded that the survival of the Tower can be attributed to a phenomenon known as dynamic soil-structure interaction (DSSI).

  • Coastal perilHelping rebuild eroding lands in coastal Louisiana

    As coastal lands in Louisiana erode, researchers, environmentalists and engineers are all searching for ways to preserve the marsh coastline. Now, researchers have developed a model to help stakeholders figure out what factors they need to consider to rebuild land in this fragile wetland.

  • Planetary securityAliens can’t reach Earth because of gravity

    If there are aliens out there, on large planets like Jupiter or on slightly smaller planets called super-Earths, why have they not yet come to visit us? Scientists say aliens living on distant planets can’t cruise the cosmos because of gravity. To launch the equivalent of an Apollo moon mission, a rocket on a super-Earth would need to have a mass of about 440 000 tons because of fuel requirements.