• 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.

  • Climate 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.

  • As 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.

  • How 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.

  • How 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.

  • Global 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.