• Lessening Water Quality Problems Caused by Hurricane-Related Flooding

    June 1 is the start of hurricane season in the Atlantic, and with 2020 predicted to be particularly active, residents in coastal regions are keeping watchful eyes on the weather. Flooding is often the most damaging effect of tropical storms, and one of the first casualties of large-scale is the quality of water sources in the flooded areas.

  • Vital Natural buffers against Climate Change Are Just Offshore

    About 31 million people worldwide live in coastal regions that are “highly vulnerable” to future tropical storms and sea-level rise driven by climate change. But in some of those regions, powerful defenses are located just offshore. Of those 31 million people, about 8.5 million directly benefit from the severe weather-protection of mangroves and coral reefs, key buffers that could help cushion the blow against future tropical storms and rising waters.

  • Mangrove Trees May Disappear by 2050 Due to Sea-Level Rise

    Mangrove forests store large amounts of carbon and  help protect coastlines, but mangrove trees – valuable coastal ecosystems found in Florida and other warm climates – won’t survive sea-level rise by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced.

  • Cybercriminals Are Now Targeting Critical Electricity Infrastructure

    Amid the constant stream of news on the coronavirus pandemic, one event passed relatively unnoticed. On the afternoon of May 14, a company named Elexon was hacked. You probably haven’t heard of it, but Elexon plays a key role in the UK’s electricity market, and though the attack did not affect the electricity supply itself, as an academic who researches cybersecurity in the electricity system, I am worried. This near miss reveals just how vulnerable our critical infrastructure is to such attacks – especially during a pandemic.

  • Do Two Failed Dams Foretell a Dire Future?

    Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme rainfall events and hence the risk for filling and overtopping dams, which is the predominant mechanism of dam failure. However, using climate change as a bogeyman for aging infrastructure failure is an unfortunate trend, since it takes attention away from an urgent and potentially fixable problem.

  • When Dams Cause More Problems Than They Solve, Removing Them Can Pay Off for People and Nature

    Across the United States, dams generate hydroelectric power, store water for drinking and irrigation, control flooding and create recreational opportunities such as slack-water boating and waterskiing. But dams can also threaten public safety, especially if they are old or poorly maintained.

  • The USGS Prepares to Respond During the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

    The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season starts1 June, and the U.S. Geological Survey says it is prepared to provide science that can help guide efforts to protect lives and property if a major storm makes landfall this season. USGS brings many capabilities to help communities deal with hurricanes: the ability to forecast coastal change; track storm surge, river and stream levels and flow; capture high-resolution ground elevation and topographic data; create detailed maps that can be used by disaster teams responding in the aftermath of storms; and measure coastal and inland flooding across entire regions.

  • Rising Tide: Seeking Solutions to S.C.’s Mounting Nuisance Floods

    While a rising tide may lift all boats, it spells trouble for South Carolina coastal communities where flooding has already long been a fact of life. Low-lying areas such as the state’s more than 2,000 miles of coastline are increasingly prone to floods and storm surge as sea levels rise — driven by a more variable global climate system. Researchers are examining green solutions to help those communities fight back.

  • Bans on Foreign Equipment in U.S. Critical Infrastructure

    One executive order does not a trend make, but maybe two do. On May 1, President Trump issued an executive order banning the acquisition, importation, transfer or installation of any bulk electric power system equipment where the secretary of energy has determined, first, that the equipment was manufactured by a company controlled by—or subject to the jurisdiction of—a foreign adversary and, second, that the transaction poses an undue risk to the U.S. bulk-power system, economy or national security. Jim Dempsey writes “The order’s issuance signals that the administration’s efforts to purge from the nation’s telecommunications network any equipment made in China may represent a new approach to critical infrastructure in general.”

  • Harnessing Wave Power to Rebuild Islands

    Many island nations, including the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, are facing an existential threat as a result of a rising sea level induced by global climate change. Researchers are testing ways of harnessing nature’s own forces to help maintain and rebuild threatened islands and coastlines.

  • As Sea Levels Rise, Are We Ready to Live Behind Giant Walls?

    Of all the many varied impacts in a warming planet, sea level rise is one of the most straightforward to predict because sea water expands as it warms and because extra water is flowing from melting glaciers and ice sheets. Given the costs of flooded coastal cities, European Commission scientists suggest that it would save money in the long run to build improved sea defenses around 70% of the continent’s coastline. Do we really want to live in a world in which we all live behind huge walls? Is this the only way to adapt?

  • Park-Like Tsunami Defenses: Sustainable Alternative to Towering Seawalls

    In tsunami preparedness, it turns out there can be strength in beauty. Rows of green hills strategically arranged along coastlines can help to fend off destruction from tsunamis while preserving ocean views and access to the shore. For some communities, they may offer a better option than towering seawalls.

  • Sea Level Could Rise More than 1 Meter by 2100 if Emission Targets Are Not Met

    Global mean sea-level rise could exceed 1 meter by 2100 and 5 meters by 2300 with unchecked emissions, a survey among 100 leading international experts finds. The risk assessment is based on the increasing body of knowledge of the systems involved – while the scientists highlight the remaining uncertainties, they say it is clear now that previous sea-level rise estimates have been too low.

  • Cities Will Endure, but Urban Design Must Adapt to Coronavirus Risks and Fears

    The long-term impacts of coronavirus on our cities are difficult to predict, but one thing is certain: cities won’t die. Diseases have been hugely influential in shaping our cities, history showsCities represent continuity regardless of crises – they endure, adapt and grow. Silvia Tavares and Nicholas Stevens write in The Conversation that urban designers and planners have a long-term role in ensuring urban life is healthy. To fight infectious diseases, cities need well-ventilated urban spaces with good access to sunlight. The design of these spaces, and public open spaces in particular, promotes different levels of sociability. Some spaces congregate community and are highly social. Others may act as urban retreats where people seek peace with their coffee and book. How urban spaces perform during disease outbreaks now also demands our close attention.

  • Waterfront Development Added Billions to Property Values Exposed to Hurricane Florence

    Rapid development in flood-prone zones during recent decades helped boost the amount of property exposed to 2018’s devastating Hurricane Florence substantially, a new study says. It estimates that the value of property in North Carolina and South Carolina potentially exposed to flooding at $52 billion—$42 billion more than at the start of the century (in 2018 dollars). While much development took place between 1950 and 2000, financial risk rose quickly afterward because much of it clustered along coastlines and adjacent to rivers and lakes, where buildings were more vulnerable to flooding.