• U.K.: Parliamentary Opposition to Huawei’s 5G Deal Growing Significantly

    Support in the British Parliament for allowing Huawei a role in Britain’s 5G network is collapsing. In January, the U.K. government granted Huawei approval to supply 5G technologies for parts of the U.K. network – with some restrictions, which critics of the deal say are meaningless. The government’s plan requires an act of Parliament to take legal effect, but the opposition to the deal among members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has been steadily growing, especially in light of China’s lack of transparency regarding the coronavirus epidemic. Observers now say that the hardening of opposition to the deal among rank-and-file Conservative MPs will make it difficult — if not impossible — to get the legislation passed.

  • New Flood Damage Framework to Help Planners Prepare for Sea-Level Rise

    Scientists agree that sea levels will continue to rise this century, but projections beyond 2050 are much more uncertain regarding exactly how much higher ocean levels will be by 2100. While actions to protect against 2050 sea-level rise have a secure scientific basis, this range in late-century estimates makes it difficult for coastal communities to plan their long-term adaptation strategies.

  • Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 10 Years On: What Did Scientists Learn?

    Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87 days, the Deepwater Horizon well released an estimated 168 million gallons of oil and 45 million gallons of natural gas into the ocean, making it the largest accidental marine spill in history.

  • Improving Accuracy of Storm Surge Analysis

    Accurately predicting how many people are at risk due to sea level rise and storm surges has always challenged scientists, but a new method is improving models that account for the impact of these natural occurrences. A new model developed by international team of scientists can be used to better understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

  • What to Make of New U.S. Actions Against Foreign Telecoms

    Recent moves by the administration mark another concrete step in the U.S. campaign to limit the digital and economic influence of Chinese telecommunications companies both within and outside U.S. borders. Justin Sherman writes that “The moves also demonstrate that current American efforts to limit the influence of the Chinese telecommunications sector are much broader than just the well-publicized targeting of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.”

  • Extreme Coastal Flooding in the U.S. Expected to Rise

    Extreme flooding events in some U.S. coastal areas could double every five years if sea levels continue to rise as expected, a new study says. Today’s “once-in-a-lifetime” extreme water levels — which are currently reached once every fifty years — may be exceeded daily along most of the U.S. coastline. Associated coastal hazards, such as beach and cliff erosion, will likely accelerate in concert with the increased risk of flooding, suggest the authors.

  • Bolstering Cybersecurity for Systems Linking Solar Power to Grid

    DOE has awarded researchers $3.6 million to advance technologies that integrate solar power systems to the national power grid. “As U.S. energy policy shifts toward more diverse sources, particularly solar, the Energy Department understands the critical importance of protecting these systems and technologies,” said Alan Mantooth, U Arkansas Professor of electrical engineering and principal investigator for the project.

  • Understanding the Hidden Impact of Disasters

    The September 2017 Hurricane Maria killed people, demolished homes, and destroyed infrastructure. But Maria also damaged the manufacturing plants of a major IV bag maker, plunging hospitals into supply shortage that didn’t ripple across the mainland United States until six months after the hurricane made landfall. Given the highly integrated nature of supply chains in the U.S., natural and man-made disasters can have unanticipated consequences that are every bit as serious as the immediate damage of the event itself.

  • Cybersecurity Requires International Cooperation, Trust

    Most experts agree that state-sponsored hackers in Russia are trying to use the internet to infiltrate the U.S. electrical grid and sabotage elections. And yet internet security teams in the U.S. and Europe actively seek to cooperate with their Russian counterparts, setting aside some of their differences and focusing on the issues where they can establish mutual trust.

  • Coronavirus: People in Tall Buildings May Be More at Risk – Here’s How to Stay Safe

    The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged health systems and public health authorities worldwide. When you have a rapidly spreading virus with a high transmission rate, you have to investigate all possible infection risks.
    Michael Gormley writes in The Conversation that one area of risk that is yet to receive any attention is big buildings such as tower blocks or hospitals. While direct person-to-person transmission is still the most common means of acquiring the illness, our research suggests that occupants in tall buildings could become infected if defects occur in the plumbing system. It’s important for people to be aware of this and take steps to keep themselves safe.
    His group’s work at the Institute for Sustainable Building Design at Heriot-Watt University stems from an outbreak of the SARS virus in 2003 at an apartment block in Hong Kong, known as Amoy Gardens. In a building complex ranging from 33 to 41 storeys with some 19,000 residents, there were more than 300 confirmed cases and 42 deaths – around one-sixth of all SARS infections and fatalities on the island as a whole.

  • COVID-19 and the Built Environment

    Social distancing has Americans mostly out of the places they usually gather and in their homes as we try to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But some buildings, such as hospitals and grocery stores, have to remain open, and at some point, most of us will go back to the office or workplace. What is the role of building design in disease transmission, and can we change how we design the built environment to make it healthier? Modern buildings are generally designed to promote social mixing — from open plan living areas in homes to open offices where many workers share space. By promoting interaction and chance encounters, these layouts are thought to generate more creativity and teamwork. At the same time, they are probably also really great for spreading viruses around.

  • How Fire Causes Office-Building Floors to Collapse

    Engineers and technicians at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) spent months meticulously recreating the long concrete floors supported by steel beams commonly found in high-rise office buildings, only to deliberately set the structures ablaze, destroying them in a fraction of the time it took to build them.

  • Protecting U.S. Energy Grid and Nuclear Weapons Systems

    To deter attempts to disable U.S. electrical utilities and to defend U.S. nuclear weapon systems from evolving technological threats, Sandia researchers have begun two multiyear initiatives to strengthen U.S. responses.

  • New Flooding Prediction Tool

    By incorporating the architecture of city drainage systems and readings from flood gauges into a comprehensive statistical framework, researchers can now accurately predict the evolution of floods in extreme situations like hurricanes. With their new approach, the researchers said their algorithm could forecast the flow of floodwater in almost real-time, which can then lead to more timely emergency response and planning.

  • Building a Flood Resilient Future

    Seven of the United Kingdom’s ten wettest years on record have occurred since 1998. Its wettest winter in history came in 2013, and the next wettest in 2015. In a single week in November 2019, 400 homes were flooded and 1,200 properties evacuated in northern England. The frequency and severity of these events is expected to increase as a result of climate change, meaning that many more communities will suffer their devastating effects. A new book shows how we can adapt the built and natural environment to be more flood resilient in the face of climate change.