• Coal and oil demand to peak by 2020: Report

    A boom in the popularity of solar panels and electric cars could spark irreversible changes in the energy sector within three years. By 2020, the global demand for coal and oil could peak and start to decline, according to a new report. The power and road transport sectors account for approximately half of fossil fuel consumption, so growth in the solar panel and electric vehicle markets can have a major impact on demand. The findings of this report could have serious implications for businesses and governments that supply these fossil fuels.

  • Sea-level rise in Southeast Asia 6,000 years ago relevant for coastal dwellers today

    For the 100 million people who live within three feet of sea level in East and Southeast Asia, the news that sea level in their region fluctuated wildly more than 6,000 years ago is important, according to researchers. This is because those fluctuations occurred without the assistance of human-influenced climate change. Such a change in sea level could happen again now, on top of the rise in sea level that is already projected to result from climate change. This could be catastrophic for people living so close to the sea.

  • Last year’s El Niño resulted in unprecedented erosion of the Pacific coastline

    Last winter’s El Niño might have felt weak to residents of Southern California, but it was in fact one of the most powerful climate events of the past 145 years. If such severe El Niño events become more common in the future as some studies suggest they might, the California coast — home to more than twenty-five million people — may become increasingly vulnerable to coastal hazards. And that’s independent of projected sea level rise.

  • Challenges, opportunities ahead for repairing the U.A. aging infrastructure

    President Donald Trump underscored repairing the nation’s aging infrastructure as a national priority both throughout the campaign and in his inauguration address. Senate Democrats last week also unveiled their own $1 trillion plan. But how did the country’s infrastructure fall into a state of such disrepair? What are the greatest challenges facing an infrastructure boom? And how can engineering foster innovation and the development of new technology to address this national priority?

  • Protecting bulk power Systems from hackers

    Most of us take turning the lights on for granted. In reality, the energy we draw from the electrical grid to brighten homes, freeze food and watch TV is part of a complicated and widespread system. Understanding that system’s vulnerabilities and reliability is a crucial step towards improving its security. Reliability measures of electrical grid has risen to a new norm as it involves physical security and cybersecurity. Threats to either can trigger instability, leading to blackouts and economic losses.

     

  • Genetic tool improves arsenic studies

    Arsenic-contaminated drinking water impacts millions of people worldwide. Groundwater contamination is primarily caused by microbes that convert one form of arsenic into another form that can infiltrate groundwater. Researchers developed a genetic tool that makes it easier to identify which microbial species have the arsenic-converting genes.

  • U.K. nuclear safety regulations place too low a value on human life

    New research has shown that the benchmark used by the U.K. Office for Nuclear Regulation for judging how much should be spent on nuclear safety has no basis in evidence and places insufficient value on human life. The review suggests it may need to be ten times higher — between £16 million and £22 million per life saved.

  • World leaders urged to take action to avert existential global risks

    World leaders must do more to limit risk of global catastrophes, according to a report by Oxford academics. He academic define global catastrophe as a risk “where an adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.” Three of the most pressing possible existential risks for humanity are pandemics, extreme climate change, and nuclear war.

  • Storms filled 37 percent of California snow-water deficit

    The “atmospheric river” weather patterns that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit. Researchers estimate that two powerful recent storms deposited roughly 17.5-million acre feet (21.6 cubic kilometers) of water on California’s Sierra Nevada range in January. Compared to averages from the pre-drought satellite record, that amount represents more than 120 percent of the typical annual snow accumulation for this range.

  • Electricity costs to surge in a warming world

    Climate change is likely to increase U.S. electricity costs over the next century by billions of dollars more than economists previously forecast, according to a new study. The study shows how higher temperatures will raise not just the average annual electricity demand, but more importantly, the peak demand. And to avoid brownouts and absorb these surges, utilities will need to spend between $70 billion and $180 billion in grid upgrades—power plants and futuristic energy storage systems for which ratepayers would ultimately foot the bill.

  • “Solar vapor” device purifies dirty drinking water

    A new way to make nasty or salty water drinkable features carbon-dipped paper. It could be a cheap and efficient option for addressing global drinking water shortages, particularly in developing areas and regions affected by natural disasters.

  • Israel recycles 90% of its wastewater, four times more than any other country

    Almost 90 percent of Israeli wastewater is purified and used in irrigation, making it an undisputed world leader in this field. Spain, the second-place country, recycles 20 percent of its wastewater, compared to Israel’s 87 percent. Israel is also a pioneer in desalination, operating Sorek — the world’s largest seawater desalination plant — which employs advanced technologies, allowing it to produce a thousand liters of drinking water for 58 U.S. cents.

  • Detailed look at decentralized water systems

    The “decentralized” water system at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which treats all non-potable water on site, contributes to the net-zero building’s recognition as one of the greenest buildings in the world. However, research into the efficacy of these systems versus traditional treatment is practically non-existent in the literature. Thanks to a collaboration between Phipps and the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, researchers now have a greater understanding of the life cycle of water reuse systems designed for living buildings, from construction through day-to-day use.

  • Global entities come shopping for Israeli cybersecurity

    As computer devices and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity continue to break new boundaries and create changes to our lifestyle, new cybersecurity technologies to defend our tech-savvy lives are crucial. “We’re still at the beginning for the cyber arena. We still need the security solution for smart homes, we still don’t have security solutions for autonomous cars, or for connected medical devices or MRI machines, or for connected kitchen appliances. Every technology that will be introduced to our lives in the coming years will need a cyber solution,” says one expert.

  • Stopping human-made droughts and floods before they start

    Alberta’s rivers are a main source of water for irrigated agriculture in Canada’s Prairie provinces. But climate change and increased human interference mean that the flow of these headwaters is under threat. This could have major implications for Canadian gross domestic product, and even global food security.