• New Web portal for coastal resilience

    William & Mary Law School and William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) are collaborating on a new Web site which will provide key information to support local, regional, and state efforts to adapt to sea-level rise. Tidal and storm surge flooding risks, FEMA flood zone maps, storm history, and critical infrastructure risk assessments are all topics that are likely to be included on the Web site. Information about conditions of shorelines, wetlands, beaches, and coastal forests will also be in the portal.

  • Belgium turns down Germany’s request to shutter two aging Belgian nuclear plants

    Belgium on Wednesday turned down a request by Germany to shut down two ageing nuclear power near the German-Belgium border. Belgium said the two plants, while old, still meet the strictest safety standards. Both the Doel and Tihange power stations, in operation since 1974, were scheduled to be shut down and decommissioned in 2015.

  • Robot offers safer, more efficient way to inspect power lines

    Currently, line crews have to suit up in protective clothing, employ elaborate safety procedures, and sometimes completely shut off the power before inspecting a power line. It can be difficult, time-consuming, and often dangerous work. Researchers have invented a robot which could change the way power lines are inspected — providing a safer and more cost-effective alternative.

  • Fossil fuels could be phased out worldwide in a decade: Study

    The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to energy experts. The experts analyzed energy transitions throughout history, and argue that only looking toward the past can often paint an overly bleak and unnecessary picture. The transition from wood to coal in Europe, for example, took between 96 and 160 years, whereas electricity took 47 to 69 years to enter into mainstream use. The future could be different: the scarcity of resources, the threat of climate change, and vastly improved technological learning and innovation could greatly accelerate a global shift to a cleaner energy future.

  • Paris attacks' mastermind had files on German nuclear waste facility

    Salah Abdeslam, the mastermind of the November 2015 terrorist attacks who is now in custody in Belgium, had in his possession documents about a nuclear research center in Germany. The Juelich nuclear center near the Belgium-Germany border is used for the storage of nuclear waste.

  • Digital mapping project tracks the last moments of the victims of Japan’s 2011 tsunami

    Digital archives track the evacuation patterns of 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake victims between the time the earthquake and tsunami struck. The Tokyo Metropolitan University researchers who created the digital archives say they will make use of the archive to analyze evacuation behaviors — encouraging people, for instance, to avoid overestimating evacuation sites and head to higher ground.

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  • Texas earthquake may have been manmade, but more data needed to assess hazards

    The most comprehensive analysis to date of a series of earthquakes that included a 4.8 magnitude event in East Texas in 2012 has found it plausible that the earthquakes were caused by wastewater injection. The findings also underscore the difficulty of conclusively tying specific earthquakes to human activity using currently available subsurface data.

  • New way to clean contaminated groundwater

    A team of researchers has helped discover a new chemical method to immobilize uranium in contaminated groundwater, which could lead to more precise and successful water remediation efforts at former nuclear sites. Uranium is present in contaminated groundwater at various sites in the United States as a legacy of Cold War-era processing and waste disposal activities associated with nuclear materials production.

  • FBI, DHS warn grid operators about cyber threats to power grid

    The FBI and DHS are warning infrastructure operators about the potential cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid. The FBI and DHS have launched a nationwide campaign to alert power companies and security firms, a campaign which includes briefings and online Webinars.

  • Microgrids to enhance diversity, reliability, resilience

    For more than 100 years, the United States electrical grid operated on a one-way delivery model: power generation, transmission, and distribution in response to user demand. Electricity came from big coal-fired plants and hydroelectric dams, later supplemented by nuclear and natural gas plants, and went out to the world as a mix of baseload and peaking power. With more renewable energy integration, smaller-scale and more widely distributed energy resources, and a demand for increased reliability and resilience, the grid of the future is shaping up to be a two-way power flow, with demand adapting more and more to available supply.

  • Oil, gas wastewater disposal pollutes surface water, harm waterways

    Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations combine directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas and oil from underground rock. This process results in in water pollution which may increase endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in surface and ground water, exposing populations living near these operations to increased risk of disease. High levels of EDC activity were found in the surface water near a hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal facility in West Virginia. Approximately 36,000 of these disposal wells are currently in operation across the United States.

  • Water cycle instability posing major political and economic risks: UN experts

    The current instability and unpredictability of the world water cycle is here to stay, making society’s adaptation to new risks a vital necessity when formulating development policies, a UN water expert warns. “What we haven’t understood until now is the extent to which the fundamental stability of our political structures and global economy are predicated on relative stability and predictability of the water cycle — that is, how much water becomes available in what part of the year. As a result of these new water-climate patterns, political stability and the stability of economies in most regions of the world are now at risk,” the expert says.

  • Renewables and nuclear no substitute for carbon dioxide disposal

    Oxford scientist argues that there are only two things we can affect with policies today that will really matter for peak warming: reducing the cost of large-scale capture and disposal of carbon dioxide, and maximizing the average rate of economic growth we achieve for a given rate of emission in the meantime.

  • Global warming of 2.5°C degrees would put at risk trillions of dollars of world’s financial assets

    An average of $2.5 trillion, or 1.8 percent, of the world’s financial assets would be at risk from the impacts of climate change if global mean surface temperature rises by 2.5°C (4.5°F) above its pre-industrial level by 2100, according to a new study. that the authors found, however, that uncertainties in estimating the “climate Value at Risk” mean that there is a 1 percent chance that warming of 2.5°C could threaten $24 trillion, or 16.9 percent, of global financial assets in 2100.

  • Analyzing the effects of rising sea levels in Norfolk, Va.

    In Norfolk, Virginia, an East Coast city which is home to the world’s largest naval station and important seaports, catastrophic flooding could damage more than homes and roads. A new study from Sandia National Laboratories assesses how much the city, its region, and the nation would suffer in damages to national assets and lost economic activity if it does nothing to address rising sea levels. The analysis method is available to cities that want to become more resilient.