• Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater: Study

    In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information. The researchers say that further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking.

  • Gov. Brown declares emergency in wake of massive L.A. natural gas leak

    California governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday declared an emergency in a Los Angeles neighborhood where a natural gas well has been spewing record amounts of stinking, global-warming methane gas. Energy experts said the breach at the natural gas storage reservoir, and the subsequent, ongoing release, are the largest known occurrence of its kind.

  • Redirected flood waters leading to unintended consequences

    An intricate system of basins, channels, and levees called the Headwaters Diversion carries water from the eastern Missouri Ozark Plateau to the Mississippi River south of Cape Girardeau. The system protects 1.2 million acres of agricultural lands from both overflow from the Mississippi River during flooding events and from Ozark Plateau runoff. Climate scientists predict a continued pattern of extreme rainfall events in the upper Mississippi River region, suggesting that unexpected above average rainfall events in the Ohio and Mississippi River basins will continue to increase the frequency of extreme flooding events on these rivers.

  • Extreme weather increasingly threatening U.S. power grid

    Power outages related to weather take out between $18 billion to $33 billion from the nation’s economy. Analysis of industry data found that these storms are a growing threat to, and the leading cause of outages in, the U.S. electric grid. The past decade saw power outages related to bad weather increase, which means that power companies must find a way address this problem.

  • Global electricity production vulnerable to climate change, water resource decline

    Climate change impacts and associated changes in water resources could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity for more than 60 percent of the power plants worldwide from 2040-2069. A new study calls for a greater focus on adaptation efforts in order to maintain future energy security. Making power plants more efficient and flexible could mitigate much of the decline.

  • Making cleaner fuel cells

    There is a near unanimity in the scientific community that the average temperature on the planet is rising and this is happening because of the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Radically redesigning virtually all technological infrastructure is not possible without an acceptable alternative to internal combustion engines: either electric accumulators and electric motors, or fuel cells with electric motors. Fuel cells themselves will not solve the problem of rising temperatures on the planet, but they are part of a possible solution. Researchers have developed ion-exchange synthetic membranes based on amphiphilic compounds that are able to convert the energy of chemical reactions into electrical current.

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  • As storms continue to batter U.K., estimates of cost rise

    As Storm Frank – which is following on the heels of Storms Eva and Desmond — continues to batter England, Scotland, and Wales, estimates of the cost of the damage wrought continue to rise. The total economic loss caused by the three Storms may well breach £3 billion – and these projections do not include any government spending on flood defenses, estimated to be between £2.3 billion and £2.8 billion.

  • Developing materials for more resilient concrete pavements

    Aging roadways pose a growing threat to transportation infrastructure which is critical to the health of economies throughout the world. Beyond the daunting task of funding extensive restoration efforts, there is an equally pressing challenge to find ways to rebuild major roads which are more sustainable. Researchers have been experimenting with what are called phase-change materials to produce more resilient concrete surfaces for roads and bridges. Phase-change materials are substances which respond to temperature variations by changing their state from solid to liquid or vice versa, and can be sourced from petroleum (such as paraffin wax) or be plant-based. A new project is exploring the use of a phase-change material solution for reducing or preventing temperature-related cracks in concrete pavement.

  • Self-compacting concrete is now fire resistant as well

    Self-compacting high-performance concrete (SCHPC) has till now suffered from one weakness — when exposed to fire it flakes and splits, which reduces the loadbearing capacity of ceilings, walls, and supporting pillars, thus increasing the risk of collapse in a burning building. Scientists have now developed a method of manufacturing fire resistant self-compacting high-performance concrete which maintains its mechanical integrity under these conditions.

  • U.K.: Economic costs from flooding could reach £1.5bn, reduce GDP growth

    Economic losses caused by the flooding which has devastated parts of Britain in the past few days could exceed 1.5 billion pounds, and shave 0.2-0.3 percent off GDP growth overall in the first quarter of 2016. Insurers will likely shoulder the bulk of the burden after first Storm Desmond and then Storm Eva saw waters swamp large swathes of the country.

  • U.K. government rejected flood warnings from own advisers

    Critics charge that the U.K. government was warned by both the government’s own climate change experts and outside consultants that there was a need to take urgent action to protect the increasing number areas in Britain which are becoming susceptible to flooding, but that the government rejected the advice. Despite the urging of its own climate experts, the U.K. government in October, just a few weeks before the devastating flooding in Cumbria, decided not to develop comprehensive strategy to address flood risk.

  • Climate change losses for Southeast Asia well above previous estimate: ADB

    Economic losses from the impacts of climate change in Southeast Asia could be 60 percent higher than previously estimated, reducing the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 11 percent by 2100, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) study. The analysis is an update to a 2009 ADB report that estimated a 7 percent annual reduction in economic output due to climate change.

  • Rail line service disruptions caused by sea level rise to increase dramatically

    Rail services to and from the South West of England could be disrupted for more than 10 percent of each year by 2040 and almost a third by 2100, a new study suggests. The cost of maintaining tracks and sea defenses could also soar as predicted sea level rises, coupled with coastal storms and floods, pose major challenges for rail operators and governments.

  • Growing risks in flood-prone areas due to economic growth more than climate change

    Worldwide economic losses from river flooding could increase 20-fold by the end of the twenty-first century if no further actions on flood risk reduction are taken. There are two contributors to risks associated with river flooding. Floods’ frequency and severity (both influenced by climate change); and the exposure to floods of people and economic assets (determined by economic activity and human residency in flood-prone areas). Researchers calculate that in many flood-prone regions of the world, more than 70 percent of the increase in flood-related risks over the coming decades can be attributed to economic growth and residency patterns in flood prone areas.

  • Iranian hackers attacked New York dam

    In 2013, Iranian government hackers infiltrated the control system of Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye, New York, located twenty-five miles from New York City. Using a cellular modem, the hackers could have released larger volumes of upstream water without warning. As dams go, the Rye dam is small at about 20ft tall. There was some confusion initially, as DHS and DOE thought a similarly named dam in Oregon — the Arthur R. Bowman Dam – was the one hacked. The Oregon dam, at 245 feet, is much bigger, and hacking its control systems could have had much more serious consequences.