• Terrorists gaining cyber capability to bring major cities to a standstill: U.K. intelligence chief

    Robert Hannigan, the director of GCHQ, the British equivalent of the U.S. NSA, has warned that terrorists and rogue states are gaining the technical capability to bring a major city to a standstill with the click of a button. He said that the risk to cities like London would significantly increase as more physical objects – cars, household appliances — are connected online in what is called the Internet of Things.

  • Danger from extreme storms, high seas on the rise

    Storms that battered Australia’s east coast are a harbinger of things to come and a stark reminder of the need for a national effort to monitor the growing threat from climate change, researchers warn. “The damage we’ve seen is a harbinger of what’s to come,” said one expert. “Climate change is not only raising the oceans and threatening foreshores, but making our coastlines much more vulnerable to storm damage. What are king high tides today will be the norm within decades.”

  • Number of thyroid cancers in Belgian children rises post-Chernobyl

    Thyroid cancer is usually rare among children, with less than one new case per million diagnosed each year. Exposure in Belgium to radioactive fallout from the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident may have increased the incidence of thyroid cancer in those exposed as children.

  • We’re (not) running out of water – a better way to measure water scarcity

    Water crises seem to be everywhere. In Flint, the water might kill us. In Syria, the worst drought in hundreds of years is exacerbating civil war. But plenty of dried-out places aren’t in conflict. For all the hoopla, even California hasn’t run out of water. There’s a lot of water on the planet. What is critical is managing water to meet current and future demand. Biophysical indicators, such as the ones we looked at, can’t tell us where a water shortage is stressful to society or ecosystems, but a good biophysical indicator can help us make useful comparisons, target interventions, evaluate risk and look globally to find management models that might work at home.

  • Bacteria may help keep water cleaner

    Phosphorus is a crucial nutrient regularly applied to crops such as corn and soybeans to help them grow efficiently. However, excess phosphorus can be carried by rainwater runoff into lakes and streams, creating potential problems for aquatic environments and the ecosystem services they provide to humans. To combat this problem, researchers are trying to better understand two groups of bacteria that could affect whether phosphate is retained in the soil or becomes mobile and gets into the water.

  • Cities can prepare for hurricane season by reforming shortsighted and outdated laws

    In the past decade major storms have devastated U.S. coastal cities from Galveston to Atlantic City and New York. They also have ravaged inland capitals, including Baton Rouge, Richmond, and Montpelier. Ensuring that our cities have the legal infrastructure in place to build safer, more efficient, and more equitable neighborhoods and communities after storms is just as important as preparing homes and businesses to ride out those storms.

  • Leaving the electrical grid in the Upper Peninsula

    While Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is not the sunniest place in the world, solar energy is viable in the region. With new technologies, some people might be inclined to leave the electrical grid. Researched looked into the economic viability of grid defection in the Upper Peninsula, and found that by 2020, leaving the electrical grid is a viable economic option for the majority of seasonal households (92 percent) as well as single-family owner-occupied households (65 percent).

  • Algorithm to help detect, reduce power grid faults

    The power grid is aging, overburdened and seeing more faults than ever, according to many. Any of those breaks could easily lead to prolonged power outages or even equipment damage. Researchers have proved that the Singular Spectrum Analysis (SSA) algorithm may be the best tool to help authorities remotely detect and locate power grid faults.

  • NRC asked to shut down Indian Point nuclear plant

    Located twenty-six miles from New York City, in the right weather conditions a radiation release at Indian Point nuclear power plant could reach Times Square in as little as ninety minutes, making evacuation of New York City impossible and rendering the area uninhabitable for a long time. Critics of the agiing plant say that the disappearance and disintegration of more than 1 in 4 critical bolts holding the Indian Point nuclear reactor cooling system together is far more serious than owner, Entergy, admits.

  • Appalachian coal ash rich in rare earth elements

    In the wake of a 2014 coal ash spill into North Carolina’s Dan River from a ruptured Duke Energy drainage pipe, the question of what to do with the nation’s aging retention ponds and future coal ash waste has been a highly contested topic. A study of the content of rare earth elements in U.S. coal ashes shows that coal mined from the Appalachian Mountains could be the proverbial golden goose for hard-to-find materials critical to clean energy and other emerging technologies.

  • Groundwater extraction contributes less to sea level rise than previously thought

    Groundwater extraction and other land water contribute about three times less to sea level rise than previous estimates, according to a new study. The study does not change the overall picture of future sea level rise, but provides a much more accurate understanding of the interactions between water on land, in the atmosphere, and the oceans, which could help to improve future models of sea level rise.

  • Harnessing solar, wind energy in one device to power the Internet of Things

    The “Internet of Things” could make cities “smarter” by connecting an extensive network of tiny communications devices to make life more efficient. But all these machines will require a lot of energy. Rather than adding to the global reliance on fossil fuels to power the network, researchers say they have a new solution.

  • New paper filter removes viruses from water

    More than 748 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Water-borne infections are among the global causes for mortality, especially in children under age of five, and viruses are among the most notorious water-borne infectious microorganisms. They can be both extremely resistant to disinfection and difficult to remove by filtration due to their small size. Scientists have developed a simple paper sheet which can improve the quality of life for millions of people by removing resistant viruses from water.

  • Rapid detection of E. coli in water

    Tragedies like the E. coli outbreak in Ontario’s Walkerton in May 2000 could be averted today with a new invention by researchers at York University that can detect the deadly contaminant in drinking water early. Anew technology has cut down the time taken to detect E. coli from a few days to just a couple of hours.

  • Trump-owned resort cites sea level rise in application for seawall permit

    Donald Trump may believe that the scientific evidence about global warming is a “hoax,” or the result of a Chinese plot to undermine the American economy, but the professional managers of his coastal properties believe that global warming is real, and that one of its consequences – sea level rise – poses a real threat to the Trump properties they manage.