• Predicting Storm Surges, Flooding, and Tides to Help Coastal Communities

    When weather systems threaten the coast, emergency responders rely on high-precision storm modeling systems and real-time data to accurately predict hurricane activity and flooding threats, collaborate with each other, and make critical decisions that will protect the lives and property of millions of U.S. residents. During the 2018 hurricane season, the ADCIRC Prediction System (APS) played an integral role in accurately predicting the storm surges, flooding, wind and wave interactions, and speed of tides and currents associated with both Florence and Michael.

     

  • Faint Foreshocks Foretell California Earthquakes

    New research mining data from a catalog of more than 1.8 million southern California earthquakes found that nearly three-fourths of the time, foreshocks signaled a quake’s readiness to strike from days to weeks before the mainshock hit, a revelation that could advance earthquake forecasting.

  • Improving Security of Nuclear Materials Transportation

    Nuclear power plants can withstand most inclement weather and do not emit harmful greenhouse gases. However, trafficking of the nuclear materials to furnish them with fuel remains a serious issue as security technology continues to be developed. Physicists conducted research to enhance global nuclear security by improving radiation detectors. According to them, improving radiation detectors requires the identification of better sensor materials and the development of smarter algorithms to process detector signals.

  • Predicting Earthquake Hazards from Wastewater Injection

    A byproduct of oil and gas production is a large quantity of toxic wastewater called brine. Well-drillers dispose of brine by injecting it into deep rock formations, where its injection can cause earthquakes. Most quakes are relatively small, but some of them have been large and damaging. Yet predicting the amount of seismic activity from wastewater injection is difficult because it involves numerous variables. Geoscientists have developed a method to forecast seismic hazards caused by the disposal of wastewater.

  • What Will Communities Do When the Water Runs Dry?

    Earlier this summer, the sixth-largest city in India, Chennai, ran out of water. Water crises are now global. Cape Town, South Africa, narrowly escaped Day Zero last year, but it’s still at risk, as are Sao Paulo and Mexico City. Iraq, Morocco and Spain also face water shortages.What we are seeing in Chennai right now is a devastating illustration of human-driven climate disruption,” says an expert. “It is hard for me to picture a near future where access to clean, fresh water continues in as plentiful a way as it is in most of our country at this moment.”

  • Worst Rainfall in 150 Years Damages Pennsylvania Homes, Roads

    According to the 150 years of data used by the National Weather Service, 2018 was the wettest year in the Berks region of Pennsylvania, with 68.08 inches of precipitation measured at Reading Regional Airport. This year is ahead of last year’s pace, with 38.21 inches already, far above the normal rate of 24.18 inches. Records for the wettest 12-month period are being set each month, according to the weather service. Some municipal officials say their infrastructure and stormwater management systems can’t handle the amount of rain we’re now receiving, and they are trying to figure out what type of improvements they can afford.

  • Jakarta’s Giant Sea Wall Is Useless If the City Keeps Sinking

    Late last week, president Joko Widodo of Indonesia told the AP that he’s fast-tracking a decade-in-the-making plan for a giant sea wall around Jakarta, a city that’s sinking as much as 8 inches a year in places—and as seas rise, no less. Models predict that by 2050, a third of the city could be submerged. It’s an urban existential crisis the likes of which the modern world has never seen.

  • Hacking Connected Cars to Gridlock Whole Cities

    In the year 2026, at rush hour, your self-driving car abruptly shuts down right where it blocks traffic. You climb out to see gridlock down every street in view, then a news alert on your watch tells you that hackers have paralyzed all Manhattan traffic by randomly stranding internet-connected cars. Researchers warn that even with increasingly tighter cyber defenses, the amount of data breached has soared in the past four years, but objects becoming hackable can convert the rising cyber threat into a potential physical menace.

  • Innovative Approach to Flood Mapping Supports Emergency Management, Water Officials

    Dependable, detailed inundation estimates are vital for emergency managers to have enough situational awareness to quickly get the right resources and information to flood-impacted communities. In 2007, severe flooding in southeastern Kansas put a spotlight on the lack of timely, reliable projections for floodwater spread.

  • Climate Change, Population Growth Worsen North Carolina Coastal Flooding

    A historic 120-year-old data set is allowing researchers to confirm what data modeling systems have been predicting: climate change is increasing precipitation events like hurricanes, tropical storms and floods. Researchers found that six of the seven highest precipitation events in the record have occurred within the last 20 years, according to the study.

     

  • Texas might spend up to $20 billion to protect Houston from hurricanes. Rice University says it can do it for a fraction of that.

    A government plan to guard the Houston-Galveston region from deadly storm surge could cost as much as $20 billion and isn’t expected to become reality for at least 15 years. Rice University says it has a plan that could be completed faster for a fraction of the cost.

  • The Threat of an Electromagnetic Attack

    When much of Venezuela was plunged into darkness after a massive blackout this week, President Nicolás Maduro blamed the power outage on an “electromagnetic attack” carried out by the U.S. The claim was met with skepticism, but Maduro’s claim has raised questions over what exactly is an electromagnetic attack, how likely is it to occur and what impact could it have.

  • Truth and Fearmongering: Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository

    Is it a good idea to store 77,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste in a repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain? Many Nevada politicians say it is a bad idea, but scientists argue that the facts do not support the fears these politicians stoke. These scientists say that Colorado, whose surface rock contains about a billion tons of uranium, should have much more to worry about than Nevada. One scientist says: “If the Yucca Mountain facility were at full capacity and all the waste leaked out of its glass containment immediately and managed to reach groundwater, the danger would still be 20 times less than that currently posed by natural uranium leaching into the Colorado River.”

  • Coping with Climate Change with Forecast-Based Aid

    Traditionally, disaster victims have received assistance after trouble hits. If a region is flooded, say, people in the area may get aid to rebuild. But a new approach to humanitarian giving is flipping the script and offering help in advance of disaster, using in-depth weather forecasting and risk analysis to predict future victims.

  • Glaciers May Be Melting Faster Than We Expected

    From Alaska to Antarctica, thousands of glaciers flow over the land and out to the ocean. These tidewater glaciers are rapidly retreating and melting, like much of Earth’s ice, continually adding to rising sea levels. But to date, scientists have struggled to pinpoint where on the face of a glacier’s terminus the most intense melting occurs—and exactly how fast it is happening. Until now.