• Sea-level rise accelerating along U.S. East Coast

    Sea level rise on the East Coast has been much less than 1 millimeter (mm) per year for the entire period 0 AD to 1800 AD, and, since then, it has skyrocketed. In fact, the rate of sea level rise on the East Coast is the highest it has been for at least 2,000 years, and the rate of global sea level rise is above 1.7 mm per year. In New York City, the rate of sea level rise is more than 3 mm per year in an area that currently houses more than $25 billion of infrastructure at less than 1 meter above sea level.

  • Protecting the power grid from low-budget attacks

    Cyberattacks against power grids and other critical infrastructure systems have long been considered a threat limited to nation-states due to the sophistication and resources necessary to mount them. Last week, at the Black Hat USA 2017 conference in Las Vegas, a team of researchers challenged that notion by disclosing vulnerabilities in a component that combined with publicly available information provide sufficient information to model an advanced, persistent threat to the electrical grid.

  • Bridges and roads as important to your health as what’s in your medicine cabinet

    Two seemingly unrelated national policy debates are afoot, and we can’t adequately address one unless we address the other. Health care reform has been the hottest topic. What to do about America’s aging infrastructure has been less animated but may be more pressing. What if a solution to bridging both the political and sectoral divides between health care and infrastructure was, literally, a bridge? Sure, bridges are core elements of infrastructure, but what do bridges have to do with health care? As it turns out, a lot. Moving the health care debate to a discussion on infrastructure might accomplish two vital needs. It might advance the health care debate by both walking away from the current gridlock and approaching the destination from a fresh perspective. It might also advance public health by making America’s highways, neighborhoods and water systems safer, mediating the risks of health care and bridge collapses.

  • Benefits of dikes -- reducing flooding -- outweigh costs

    In the first study of its kind, an international team of scientists has concluded, on a global scale, that the economic and long-term benefits of building dikes to reduce flood damage far outweigh their initial cost. They found that in many parts of the world, it is even possible to reduce the economic damage from river floods in the future to below today’s levels, even when climate change, growing populations, and urbanization are taken into account.

  • NASA to use asteroid flyby to test planetary defense network

    For the first time, NASA will use an actual space rock for an observational campaign to test NASA’s network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defense. The asteroid, named 2012 TC4, does not pose a threat to the Earth, but NASA is using it as a test object for an observational campaign because of its close flyby on 12 October 2017.

  • A model using big data predicts and prevents power outages

    High-speed winds during a thunderstorm may cause trees around an electric grid to crash into the distribution system feeders causing an outage in that area. Currently, most utility companies diminish such accidents by scheduling regular tree-trimming operations. This effort is costly and is based on a rotational approach to different service areas, which may take months and sometimes years before all trees are trimmed. researchers have developed an intelligent model that can predict a potential vulnerability to utility assets and present a map of where and when a possible outage may occur. The predictive feature allows the trees in the most critical areas with the highest risk to be trimmed first.

  • Applied cybersecurity research for better protection of critical national infrastructure sectors

    DHS S&T awarded a five-year Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), with a maximum value of $70 million, to Arlington, Virginia-based Cyber Apex Solutions, LLC, to facilitate applied research of prototype cyberdefenses for critical national infrastructure sectors.

  • Troubled flood insurance program traps homeowners in flood-prone areas

    The U.S. flood insurance program has repeatedly rebuilt some of the most flood-prone properties in the country, unintentionally setting a trap for owners of modest homes who would prefer to move out of harm’s way, according to a new national report. Today it is thousands of properties, but climate change and rising sea levels threaten to flood millions of properties in the coming decades. For every $100 the nation spends to rebuild homes with national flood insurance funds, FEMA spends just $1.72 to better protect people by moving them to safer, less flood-prone land.

  • Shifting storms threaten once placid areas with extreme waves, extensive damage

    The world’s most extensive study of the impacts of coastal storm fronts in a changing climate has found that rising seas are no longer the only threat. The study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognized danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before.

  • U.S. electric grid remains vulnerable to natural disasters, cyber- and physical attacks

    The grid remains vulnerable to diverse threats that can potentially cause extensive damage and result in large-area, prolonged outages that could cost billions of dollars and cause loss of life, the report found. Experts recommend ways to make the grid more resilient through the development and demonstration of technologies and organizational strategies that minimize the likelihood that outages will happen, reduce the impacts and speed recovery if they do, all the while developing mechanisms for continual improvements based on changing threats.

  • 20-story earthquake-safe buildings made from wood

    Engineering researchers are putting a two-story wooden structure through a series of powerful earthquake simulations, using a lab shake table. The goal is to gather the data required to design wood buildings as tall as twenty stories that do not suffer significant damage during large earthquakes.

  • Building to better weather the storm

    The Atlantic hurricane season has officially begun and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting “above normal” storm activity this year. That could mean significant damage to coastal communities — some of which are still recovering from last year’s hurricane season. New dashboard developed by the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub helps builders calculate the breakeven cost of hazard mitigation in hurricane-prone areas.

  • U.K. energy firms hacked by Russian government hackers: U.K. spy agency

    A leaked U.K. government memo says that in the wake of the 8 June general election, the U.K. energy industry is “likely to have been compromised” by Russian government hackers. The report, produced by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – the British equivalent of the U.S. NSA — warns that the British intelligence service had spotted connections “from multiple U.K. IP addresses to infrastructure associated with advanced state-sponsored hostile threat actors.”

  • Extreme coastal sea levels more likely

    Extreme sea levels are typically caused by a combination of high tides, storm surges, and in many cases waves, Wahl said. When an extreme event collides with continually rising seas, it takes a less intense storm, such as a Category I hurricane, to inflict as much coastal damage as a Category II or III storm would have had when the seas were lower. Because of the rising sea levels, which research has confirmed has occurred steadily during the past century and is expected to accelerate in the future, extreme events that are now expected to happen, on average, only once every hundred years, could occur every decade or even every year, in many places by 2050, the study said.

  • Earthquake-proofing buildings in earthquake-prone regions

    Across the world, severe earthquakes regularly shake entire regions. More than two billion people live in danger zones – many of them in structures not built to withstand an earthquake. Engineers are developing building materials designed to prevent buildings from collapsing in a natural disaster.