• California dams plagued by seismic concerns

    Half of Santa Clara County, California’s reservoirs cannot be filled to their full capacity due to seismic concerns; engineering tests revealed that in the event of a major earthquake the dam could slump sending a deadly tidal wave across densely populated communities; seismic retrofit costs to the county’s dam are estimated at $150 million; with the reduced capacity, the county’s dams must be maintained at 67 percent of its total capacity and cannot store more water in preparation for future droughts; the lost capacity could provide water for 280,000 people for a year

  • Expert: Czech Republic beginning to run out of water

    The Czech Republic is running low on its underground water supplies, with villages in the north and the south experiencing shortages; nearly 50 percent of Czech residents depend on underground water sources; experts believe that increasingly extreme weather patterns caused by climate change are to blame; long dry months followed by severe storms are causing massive floods and leave the ground less able to absorb water; extreme estimates predict that by 2050, the Czech Republic would not have enough water for its population’s basic needs

  • Megastorm could devastate California, not just earthquakes

    A team of over 100 scientists, engineers, and emergency planners are urging California disaster planning officials to prepare for megastorms; the team projected that a catastrophic megastorm could decimate California with massive landslides and flooding; the findings were based on geological evidence of such powerful storms that occur every 300 years; the last megastorm occurred in 1861 and left the Sacramento Valley an “inland sea”

  • Scientist tackles China's "sinking cities" problem

    A University of Nottingham researcher has been awarded funding to help China prevent human disaster as some of its fastest-growing cities sink under the weight of towering skyscrapers; one example: Shanghai, one of the most densely-populated cities in the world, is sinking at an average rate of between two centimeters to four centimeters a year, putting pressure on underground pedestrian and railway tunnels and building foundations

  • The smart grid can get even smarter

    Researchers are currently working on new solid-state transformers that could revolutionize the smart grid; these new devices use sophisticated semiconductors, processors, and communications hardware enabling them to handle a broad array of functions; potential uses include reducing car battery recharge time from eight hours to thirty minutes while reducing energy loss, enabling individual homes and businesses to sell power from one to another based on usage, and allowing solar panels and other renewable energy sources to be used without any additional equipment or upgrading existing power infrastructure; the devices will take several years to develop before they can be implemented

  • New York State prepares for sea level rise

    More than 62 percent of New York State’s population lives in marine coastal counties; sea level in the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island is projected to rise two to five inches by the 2020s, increasing 12 to 23 inches by the end of the century (up to 55 inches by the end of the century if accelerated polar ice melt occurs); New York Harbor has already experienced an increase in sea level of more than 15 inches in the past 150 years, with harbor tide gauges showing a rise of between four and six inches since 1960

  • Aussies flee more flooding

    Flood water in northern Australia now cover an area larger than Germany and France combined; in addition to Queensland, large parts of the state of Victoria are now under water; around sixty towns across an area larger than Denmark to the north-west of the state capital, Melbourne, have been hit by floods as heavy rain from recent weeks makes its way across broad floodplains to the Murray River; the estimated damage in hard-hit Queensland now stands at US$19.8 billion

  • Rising sea waters threaten North Carolina's delicate coastline

    A North Carolina science panel is predicting the sea level will rise by one meter by 2100; this means about 2,000 square miles of coastline that is a meter or less above water is at risk; on that land is some of the state’s most expensive real estate that economists say is worth a total of almost $7 billion

  • U.S. water infrastructure in desperate need of repair

    U.S water infrastructure is rapidly aging and causing disease outbreaks, water loss, and property damage; these problems primarily owe to ancient water pipes, many of which have not been repaired or upgraded since they were first installed in the years following the Second World War; some are over eighty years old; on average 700 water mains break a day flooding homes and causing thousands of dollars in property damage; a 2008 salmonella outbreak in Colorado that sickened 250 people was linked to poor water infrastructure; an estimated seven billion gallons of water is lost due to leaky pipes

  • San Diego completes major water pipeline project

    San Diego county has completed the San Vicente pipeline which will provide residents with fresh water in the event of a disruption; San Diego receives 90 percent of its water from distant sources thousands of miles away; the pipeline is part of a larger $1.5 billion project designed to provide San Diego county with water for up to six months if supplies are cut off by a major earthquake or natural disaster; these projects are becoming increasingly important as San Diego’s two primary sources of water, the Colorado River and the San Joaquin-Sacramento river delta begin to dry up

  • Mexico City's sinking is worsening

    Scientists are alarmed by the extent to which Mexico City has sunk; over the last 100 years, parts of the city have sunk as much as forty-two feet — and sections of the city sink as much as eight inches a year; the sinking has caused the city’s sewage system to back up resulting in dangerous floods; the sinking is the result of water being pumped from the aquifer directly below the city more quickly than it is being replenished; Mexico City is built in the middle of Lake Texcoco, which has been drained

  • AVERT evaluates vulnerabilities, assess solutions

    Ares Corp.’s AVERT software tool analyzes the security of a given facility in order to understand vulnerabilities and evaluate the effectiveness of existing and proposed countermeasures; it aims to help users develop security solutions within budget and security constraints; traditional vulnerability analyses rely on subjective judgment and checklists, but the AVERT software applies probabilistic algorithms and Monte Carlo analysis to identify and quantify security vulnerabilities by simulating user-defined attacks against the site to determine worst case paths one or more intruders might take to specific targets

  • Marines use solar power in Afghanistan to help fuel the fight

    Marines at Forward Operating Base Jackson in the Sangin valley of Helmand Province are using solar energy generators to stretch fuel supplies and save lives; with over 100 British troops killed there, Sangin valley is one of Afghanistan’s deadliest areas; since the implementation of portable solar energy generators, fuel consumption has decreased from twenty gallons to less than three gallons a day; delivering fuel is incredibly dangerous as fuel convoys are often ambushed or hit by IEDs

  • Nuclear experts downplay China nuclear 'breakthrough'

    Earlier this month, the China National Nuclear Corporation said it had achieved a significant “breakthrough” by developing a fuel reprocessing technology that will extend the lifespan of Beijing’s proven uranium deposits to 3,000 years, from the current forecast of 50-70 years; nuclear experts say, however, that other countries already own such technology — and that the real question is whether China will reprocess spent fuel on an industrial scale