• Hybrid structures combining concrete and wood increasingly popular

    Houses can be made of wood, as they were in the past – or of concrete, as they are today. To build for tomorrow, the two building methods are being combined: these hybrid structures, which contain both wood and concrete elements, are becoming increasingly popular in contemporary architecture. The building material offers the construction industry new possibilities and is based in large part on renewable resources.

  • Safe water for slum dwellers

    Attempts to deliver safe water to people living in some of the world’s poorest slums are falling at the final hurdle, according to experts. Sewage-contaminated drinking water causes serious illness such as diarrhea and other gastrointestinal and stomach problems – putting millions of lives at considerable risk each year. Globally, there are 1.7 billion cases of diarrhea annually resulting in over 0.5 million deaths of children under five years old. New research has shown that despite good progress, millions of slum dwellers are still exposed to considerable risk because water supplies are being contaminated by human waste just meters from the family home.

  • Could a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire happen in the U.S.?

    The Grenfell Tower fire in London has triggered questions about how the tragedy could have happened, whether it could happen elsewhere, and what might be learned from it to prevent future disasters. The Grenfell Tower fire spread much faster and more intensely than anyone expected. From what we know so far, there are physical, cultural and legal reasons dozens of people died. Addressing each of them will help British authorities, and fire protection and fire prevention professionals around the world, improve their efforts to reduce the chance of future tragedies like the one at Grenfell Tower.

  • New bracing for durable structures 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. Together with partners from industry, researchers are developing building materials designed to prevent buildings from collapsing in a natural disaster.

     

  • Oil spill puzzle solved: Oil-eating bacteria consumed the Deepwater Horizon oil plume

    The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 is one of the most studied spills in history, yet scientists have not agreed on the role of microbes in eating up the oil. Now, a research team has identified all of the principal oil-degrading bacteria as well as their mechanisms for chewing up the many different components that make up the released crude oil.

  • Fracking-induced earthquakes in Oklahoma

    Oklahomans are no strangers to Mother Nature’s whims. From tornadoes and floods to wildfires and winter storms, the state sees more than its share of natural hazards. But prior to 2009, “terra firma” in Oklahoma meant just that — earthquakes rarely shook the state. Then, after decades of seismic quiet where the state averaged less than two quakes of magnitude 3 or greater a year, Oklahoma suddenly saw a sharp uptick, to twenty such quakes in 2009. NASA says that the earthquakes were human-induced, resulting from wastewater injection, rather than a naturally caused quakes.

  • Simulating asteroid impacts to help identify life-threatening events

    When an asteroid struck the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013, the blast from the asteroid’s shock wave broke windows and damaged buildings as far away as 58 miles (93 kilometers), injuring more than 1,200 people. To help first responders and other agencies to identify and make better informed decisions for how best to defend against life-threatening asteroid events, NASA researchers are creating 3-D models and using one of NASA’s most powerful supercomputers to produce simulations of hypothetical asteroid impact scenarios.

  • New USGS plan contributes to making subduction zone areas more resilient

    Subduction zone events pose significant threats to lives, property, economic vitality, cultural and natural resources and quality of life. The tremendous magnitudes of these events are unique to subduction zones, and they can have cascading consequences that reverberate around the globe. USGS has developed a blueprint for advancing science and resilience from subduction zone hazards.

  • Air pollution hobbles solar energy production

    Global solar energy production is taking a major hit due to air pollution and dust. According to a new study, airborne particles and their accumulation on solar cells are cutting energy output by more than 25 percent in certain parts of the world. The regions hardest hit are also those investing the most in solar energy installations: China, India, and the Arabian Peninsula.

  • Rising seas could create 2 billion refugees by 2100

    In the year 2100, 2 billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to new research. Feeding that population will require more arable land even as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas, driving people to seek new places to dwell.

  • Fact Check: is the type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower actually banned in Britain?

    Cladding was added on tower blocks built in the 1960s and 1970s such as Grenfell Tower to improve the thermal performance of the flats and in some cases prevent material deteriorating and falling from the existing facades. These flats are often homes to some of the poorest in society and improving the facades may cut their energy bills to less than a half. This also means that they can adequately heat their homes to avoid condensation and mold growth inside. After the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, the Metropolitan Police is considering whether to bring manslaughter (or other) charges relating to the tower block’s insulation, which it says failed safety tests.

  • New subsidence map highlights sinking Louisiana coast

    Researchers at Tulane University have developed a subsidence map of coastal Louisiana, putting the rate at which this region is sinking at just over one third of an inch per year. The map, published in GSA Today, has long been considered the “holy grail” by researchers and policy makers as they look for solutions to the coastal wetland loss crisis, the researchers said.

  • Decision to defund the Earthquake Early Warning system criticized

    The Trump administration’s decision to defund the Earthquake Early Warning system is being criticized by experts. The “administration’s failure to fund the Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system threatens this vital program and potentially the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people on the West Coast from California to Alaska,” says one expert.

  • At least 600 U.K high-rises have combustible cladding installed

    British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons on Thursday that investigators have found combustible cladding on “a number” of publicly owned tower blocks similar to Grenfell Tower. “Shortly before I came to the chamber, I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible,” she said. The prime minister’s said her office estimated that 600 high-rise buildings in England have cladding similar to Grenfell Tower.

  • Amid Texas nuclear waste site's financial woes, judge blocks merger

    A federal judge has blocked the purchase of the company that runs Texas’ only nuclear waste dump — a setback in its proposal to accept spent nuclear fuel from across the country. Wednesday’s ruling is the latest setback for a project that the company initially suggested it would start constructing by 2019.