• Disaster recoveryRepairing earthquake-damaged bridge columns in days, not weeks

    In just thirty seconds, a devastating earthquake like the ones that struck Japan and Ecuador can render a city helpless. With roadways split and bridges severely damaged, residents and emergency personnel could be prevented from moving around to rebuild. Normally, it takes weeks to repair the cracking or spalling of columns on just one bridge damaged in an earthquake. Researchers have developed a new process of fixing columns that takes as little as a few days.

  • Emerging threatsRising seas put Vietnam in the “bull’s eye” of rising seas

    A rising sea level — for a country like Vietnam, with 2,000 miles of coastline — presents a major environmental and food security challenge, especially in the Mekong River Delta region where 22 percent of the population lives and about half of the country’s food is produced.

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  • Resilience“G-Science” academies call for strengthening global disaster resilience

    In the decade between 2005 and 2014, more than 6,000 natural and technological disasters occurred around the world, killing more than 0.8 million people, displacing millions more, and costing more than $1 trillion. Losses due to disasters are increasing in both developed and developing countries. Human factors that increase exposure and vulnerability, such as poverty, rapid population growth, disorderly urbanization, corruption, conflict and changes in land use, poor infrastructure including non-engineered housing, together with effects of climate change on weather patterns with increased extreme events, aggravate the negative consequences of natural and technological hazards.

  • Coastal resilienceNew Web portal for coastal resilience

    William & Mary Law School and William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) are collaborating on a new Web site which will provide key information to support local, regional, and state efforts to adapt to sea-level rise. Tidal and storm surge flooding risks, FEMA flood zone maps, storm history, and critical infrastructure risk assessments are all topics that are likely to be included on the Web site. Information about conditions of shorelines, wetlands, beaches, and coastal forests will also be in the portal.

  • Infrastructure protectionRobot offers safer, more efficient way to inspect power lines

    Currently, line crews have to suit up in protective clothing, employ elaborate safety procedures, and sometimes completely shut off the power before inspecting a power line. It can be difficult, time-consuming, and often dangerous work. Researchers have invented a robot which could change the way power lines are inspected — providing a safer and more cost-effective alternative.

  • GridFBI, DHS warn grid operators about cyber threats to power grid

    The FBI and DHS are warning infrastructure operators about the potential cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid. The FBI and DHS have launched a nationwide campaign to alert power companies and security firms, a campaign which includes briefings and online Webinars.

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  • Energy securityMicrogrids to enhance diversity, reliability, resilience

    For more than 100 years, the United States electrical grid operated on a one-way delivery model: power generation, transmission, and distribution in response to user demand. Electricity came from big coal-fired plants and hydroelectric dams, later supplemented by nuclear and natural gas plants, and went out to the world as a mix of baseload and peaking power. With more renewable energy integration, smaller-scale and more widely distributed energy resources, and a demand for increased reliability and resilience, the grid of the future is shaping up to be a two-way power flow, with demand adapting more and more to available supply.

  • Emerging threatsGlobal warming of 2.5°C degrees would put at risk trillions of dollars of world’s financial assets

    An average of $2.5 trillion, or 1.8 percent, of the world’s financial assets would be at risk from the impacts of climate change if global mean surface temperature rises by 2.5°C (4.5°F) above its pre-industrial level by 2100, according to a new study. that the authors found, however, that uncertainties in estimating the “climate Value at Risk” mean that there is a 1 percent chance that warming of 2.5°C could threaten $24 trillion, or 16.9 percent, of global financial assets in 2100.

  • Coastal resilienceAnalyzing the effects of rising sea levels in Norfolk, Va.

    In Norfolk, Virginia, an East Coast city which is home to the world’s largest naval station and important seaports, catastrophic flooding could damage more than homes and roads. A new study from Sandia National Laboratories assesses how much the city, its region, and the nation would suffer in damages to national assets and lost economic activity if it does nothing to address rising sea levels. The analysis method is available to cities that want to become more resilient.

  • Emerging threatsRapid Antarctica ice melt: Sea-level rise nearly double over earlier estimates

    A new study suggests that the most recent estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for future sea-level rise over the next 100 years could be too low by almost a factor of two. The researchers incorporated into their models mechanisms that were previously known but never incorporated in a model like this before, and added them to their ice-sheet model, so they could consider the effects of surface melt water on the break-up of Antarctica’s ice shelves and the collapse of vertical ice cliffs.

  • Planetary securityLaser cloaking device to help us hide Earth from aliens

    Several prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have cautioned against humanity broadcasting our presence to intelligent life on other planets. Two astronomers suggest humanity could use lasers to conceal the Earth from searches by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • EarthquakesFracking-related quakes make central U.S. as vulnerable as California to tremor damage

    For the first time, new USGS maps identify potential ground-shaking hazards from both human-induced and natural earthquakes. The new report shows that approximately seven million people live and work in areas of the central and eastern United States (CEUS) with potential for damaging shaking from induced seismicity. Within a few portions of the CEUS, the chance of damage from all types of earthquakes is similar to that of natural earthquakes in high-hazard areas of California.

  • InfrastructureClearer view of risky leaks from gas mains in Boston

    Natural gas is considered a relatively clean fossil fuel, but a substantial amount of the gas is lost in production and distribution. In addition to the safety risks, methane (the main component of natural gas) is a major contributor to atmospheric warming. Precise measurements of leaks from natural gas pipelines across metropolitan Boston have demonstrated that almost a sixth of the leaks qualified as potentially explosive, and that a handful of leaks emitted half of the total gas lost.

  • Explosives detectionSniffing out a dangerous vapor for detecting fuel leaks, fuel-based explosives

    Alkane fuel is a key ingredient in combustible material such as gasoline, airplane fuel, oil — even a homemade bomb. Yet it is difficult to detect and there are no portable scanners available that can sniff out the odorless and colorless vapor. Engineers have developed a new type of fiber material for a handheld scanner that can detect small traces of alkane fuel vapor, a valuable advancement that could be an early-warning signal for leaks in an oil pipeline, an airliner, or for locating a terrorist’s explosive.

  • Coastal resilienceUp to 70 percent of Northeast U.S. coast likely to adapt to rising seas

    Much of the coast from Maine to Virginia is more likely to change than to simply drown in response to rising seas during the next seventy years or so, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study is based on a new computer model that captures the potential of the Northeast coast to change, driven by geological and biological forces, in ways that will reshape coastal landscapes.