• FCC Bans Use of Federal Funds in Purchases of Chinese Telecom

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on 22 November blocked U.S. telecommunications providers from using an $8.5 billion subsidy fund – the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) — to buy Chinese-made telecommunications gear deemed a national security threat to critical infrastructure. The U.S. said that given Huawei and ZTE’s close relationship and legal obligations to the Chinese government, their gear poses a threat to telecommunications critical infrastructure, as well as to national security.

  • Studying Large Storm to Help Lessen Their Impact on Coasts

    When cyclones or other massive oceanic storms make landfall, their giant waves batter coastlines and sometimes cause widespread damage. Researchers have analyzed months of data of large nearshore waves to provide new insights that could help improve the designs of a variety of coastal structures from seaports to seawalls to better withstand destructive waves.

  • Beavers to help U.K. Flood Management

    Having once been an important part of the ecosystem, beavers became extinct in the United Kingdom in the sixteenth century due to hunting for their fur, meat and scent glands. The U.K. National Trust has announced plans to release Eurasian beavers at two sites in the south of England next spring to help with flood management.

  • Florida’s Building Code Doesn’t Take Sea Rise into Account. That Could Change This Year.

    The last time the Florida building code changed, in 2016, it required any new construction along the coast to elevate buildings by one foot. Three years later, this does not look to be enough. Experts call for going up yet another foot. Alex Harris notes that elevating the base of homes is a clear sign that political debates over climate change notwithstanding, “the people who plan and build in coastal Florida consider the threat of sea rise very real.”

  • Rising Seas Threaten Low-Lying Coastal Cities, 10 percent of World Population

    A new report from the Coalition for Urban Transitions finds that, because sea level rise exacerbates flooding and storm surge, it is a critical threat to urban coastal areas. More than 10 percent of the world’s population now resides in urban centers or quasi-urban clusters situated at less than 10 meters above sea level.

  • What Causes Steel Corrosion in Reinforced Concrete

    Since the Egyptian pyramids and the Roman Coliseum were built, mankind has been searching for an affordable, versatile building material, that can be easily manufactured and transported, and, above all, which is durable. Concrete has all these characteristics, but there is a problem: the corrosion of steel bars that internally strengthen structures made of reinforced concrete. This situation causes rapid, internal deterioration of frames and may even lead to buildings collapsing.

  • Operations in French Nuclear Power Plant Suspended after Monday Tremor

    Following a strong earthquake Monday in the Drôme and Ardèche regions in south-east France, EDF (Électricité de France) has ordered the suspension of power production at the Cruas-Meysse power station. The magnitude 5.4 earthquake shook the area at 11:52 a.m. Monday. Of France’s nineteen active nuclear power plants, five plants are located in seismically active zones.

  • Dams Across the U.S. Pose Potential Risk

    A more than two-year investigation by the Associated Press has found scores of dams around the United States in various states of disrepair, located in areas where a breach might place thousands in danger. These aging dams loom over homes, businesses, highways, or entire communities which could face life-threatening floods if the dams don’t hold. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates it would take more than $70 billion to repair and modernize the nation’s more than 90,000 dams. But unlike much other infrastructure, most U.S. dams are privately owned. That makes it difficult for regulators to require improvements from operators who are unable or unwilling to pay the steep costs.

  • A Year after Paradise Fire, California Lawmakers Hope to Keep History from Repeating

    Last year’s Camp Fire in California offered a scenario officials hadn’t planned for: thousands of residents fleeing at the same time from a town overcome by wildfire — and with few ways to get out. Many others perished in their cars, killed in the blaze that ultimately took 85 lives. Taryn Luna writes that a dire need for better evacuation routes was just one hard lesson of the Camp fire, a tragedy that prompted California’s elected officials to try to prevent history from repeating itself.

  • Enhancing the Reliability, Resilience of the U.S. Power Grid

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers will lead two new projects and support seven more to enhance the reliability and resilience of the nation’s power grid as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call. DOE announced funding of approximately $80 million over three years to fund 23 projects across the country.

  • First Statewide Testing of ShakeAlert in the United States

    Earlier this month, the U.S. Geological Survey and the State of California pressed the “go” button to allow the first-ever statewide public testing of the California Early Earthquake Warning System, which is powered by USGS’s earthquake early warning alerts, called ShakeAlerts. Alerts will be delivered by two independent methods, first over the federal Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system and second through the University of California Berkeley’s MyShake smartphone app.

  • Faster Computing Helps in Predicting Earthquake Damage to Infrastructure

    Researchers are using high-performance computing systems to better predict how structures will respond to an earthquake along one of the Bay Area’s most dangerous faults.

  • Israeli Solution Prevents Bridge and Tunnel Disasters

    People responsible for the health of bridges, tunnels and elevated highways can now see a real-time, cloud-based, 3D “medical report” thanks to technology invented at Israeli startup Dynamic Infrastructure. The company’s proprietary deep-learning image analysis compares daily images of the structure with older images extracted from past periodic inspections.

  • Should New York Build a Storm Surge Barrier?

    It’s been seven years since Superstorm Sandy brought the city that never sleeps to a grinding halt. The Superstorm Sandy anniversary also marks seven years since New York started talking about building storm surge barriers to protect itself from future storms. At a recent event hosted by Columbia University, experts discussed a study that is evaluating the feasibility of building storm surge barriers around New York and New Jersey. The panelists also debated whether such a measure is a good idea.

  • Deflecting Massive Asteroids With a Nuclear Impulse

    Researchers have completed the first ever in-depth investigation into how an asteroid would respond to a nuclear deflection attempt. “The whole purpose of studies like this is to help us shorten the response timeline if we were to see something coming at us,” said one researcher. “We don’t want to have to scramble to figure out whether to use an impactor or a nuclear device on a particular asteroid. These studies help us define those thresholds.”