• New model predicts landslides caused by earthquakes

    Landslides are the third-largest contributor to earthquake deaths, after building collapse and tsunamis. From 2004 to 2010, earthquake-induced landslides caused an estimated 47,000 deaths. Researchers have developed a model which can help experts address such risks by estimating the likelihood of landslides that will be caused by earthquakes anywhere in the world.

  • Celestial hazards: Twenty years of planetary defense

    NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies was established in 1998 to fulfill a 1998 Congressional request to detect and catalogue at least 90 percent of all NEOs larger than one kilometer in size (roughly two-thirds of a mile) within 10 years. In 2005, Congress established a new, much more ambitious goal for the NEO Observations Program — to discover 90 percent of the NEOs down to the much smaller size of 450 feet (140 meters), and to do so by the year 2020. There are now over 18,000 known NEOs and the discovery rate averages about 40 per week.

  • Report: Russian hackers came close to causing U.S. blackouts last year

    DHS has warned utilities that Russian government hackers accessed the U.S. electric grid control systems in 2016 and 2017, and could have, at the time of their choosing, caused blackouts across the United States. “They got to the point where they could have thrown switches” and disrupted power flows, said Jonathan Homer, chief of industrial-control-system analysis for DHS. DHS is gathering evidence on the Russian government’s attempt to automate these attacks on the U.S. grid.

  • DOJ releases Cyber-Digital Task Force report

    The Department of Justice last Thursday released a report produced by the Attorney General’s Cyber-Digital Task Force. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the cyber-enabled threats confronting the United States and details the ways in which the DOJ combats those threats. The first section of the report focuses on what DOJ describes as “the most pressing cyber-enabled threats confronting the United States: the threat posed by malign foreign influence operations.”

  • Buried internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise

    Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study. The study, presented at a meeting of internet network researchers, portrays critical communications infrastructure that could be submerged by rising seas in as soon as fifteen years. “Most of the damage that’s going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later,” says Ban authority on the “physical internet.” “That surprised us. The expectation was that we’d have 50 years to plan for it. We don’t have 50 years.”

  • Smarter, safer bridges with Sandia sensors

    In 2016, more than 54,000 bridges in the U.S. were classified as “structurally deficient” by the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory. This means about 9 percent of U.S. bridges need regular monitoring. Researchers outfitted a U.S. bridge with a network of eight real-time sensors able to alert maintenance engineers when they detect a crack or when a crack reaches a length that requires repair.

  • Rising sea levels could cost the world $14 trillion a year by 2100

    Failure to meet the United Nations’ 2ºC warming limits will lead to sea level rise and dire global economic consequences, new research has warned. The study calculated that flooding from rising sea levels could cost $14 trillion worldwide annually by 2100, if the target of holding global temperatures below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels is missed.

  • Sea level rise and coastal development: Science speaks directly to business

    If you are an investor or a developer with an interest in coastal properties, you are being bombarded with evidence of climate change in the form of sea level rise and its consequences. In the academic community, many interested in the business of coastal development have begun to take into account information from climate scientists and have expressed frustration that government regulators are not doing so.

  • 3 reasons why the U.S. is vulnerable to big disasters

    During the 2017 disaster season, three severe hurricanes devastated large parts of the U.S. The quick succession of major disasters made it obvious that such large-scale emergencies can be a strain, even in one of the world’s richest countries. Why do some countries better withstand and respond to disasters? The factors are many and diverse, but three major ones stand out because they are within the grasp of the federal and local governments: where and how cities grow; how easily households can access critical services during disaster; and the reliability of the supply chains for critical goods. For all three of these factors, the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. In many ways, Americans are becoming more vulnerable by the day.

  • Warming climate would make wildfire-prone homes uninsurable

    Nine months after the October 2017destructive Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, the process of reconstruction has begun. Experts question the prudence of rebuilding in some of the burnt-out areas in light of existing fire hazard and predictions of how the warming climate will fuel more frequent and severe wildfires in the western United States.

  • New simulations show potential impact of major quakes by building location, size

    With unprecedented resolution, scientists and engineers are simulating precisely how a large-magnitude earthquake along the Hayward Fault would affect different locations and buildings across the San Francisco Bay Area. Researchers are leveraging powerful supercomputers to portray the impact of high-frequency ground motion on thousands of representative different-sized buildings spread out across the California region.

  • Understanding the Gulf Coast's interconnected natural and human system

    The physical and ecological systems, people, and economy in the Gulf Coast are inextricably linked. Improved understanding of the coupled natural-human coastal system will help promote resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems under rapidly changing environmental conditions and support informed decision-making, says a new report.

  • Russia’s “destructive” bugs lurking in U.K. computers waiting to strike: U.K. chief cyber spook

    Russia already has “destructive” bugs hidden, lurking in British computers waiting to strike, the head of U.K. National Cyber Security Center told a parliamentary committee. Ciaran Martin said that the Kremlin’s list of targets to be disrupted has expanded beyond the U.K.’s “hard infrastructure” such as energy networks to include democratic institutions and the media. “In the last two years, we have seen a consistent rise in the appetite for attack from Russia on critical sectors, as well as diversification to other sectors they may attack. In addition to the more traditional targeting of hard infrastructure, like energy infrastructure, we have seen against the West as a whole the targeting of softer power - democratic institutions, media institutions and things relating to freedom of speech,” Martin said.

  • Lessons from extreme weather events: What disasters teach us about resilience

    Extreme weather events are among the most likely causes of disasters. Every dollar spent on disaster resilience saves five dollars in future losses. Post-Event Review Capability analysis helps to identify opportunities to reduce risk and build long-term resilience. With that in mind, Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) says it is sharing what it has learned about how individuals, businesses and communities can increase resilience to disasters.

  • Houston and Hurricane Harvey: The lessons

    Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas on 25 August 2017 as a Category 4 storm. Over the next four days, Harvey dropped more than 40 inches of rain over eastern Texas, causing catastrophic flooding. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. Total damage from the hurricane is estimated at $125 billion. Through extensive interviews, a new Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) study identifies lessons learned from the 2017 Houston floods and provides recommendations for enhancing flood resilience - before the next event occurs.