• New Ways for Taking Salt Out of Seawater

    As populations boom and chronic droughts persist, coastal cities like Carlsbad in Southern California have increasingly turned to ocean desalination to supplement a dwindling fresh water supply. Promising design rules for cost-effective desalination rely on just a few ingredients: ionic liquids plus low-cost geothermal or solar heat, or waste heat from machines.

  • The World's Aging Dams Are Not Built for Ever More Extreme Weather

    The town of Whaley Bridge in the UK has had to be evacuated after damage to a dam built in 1831. The Toddbrook Reservoir is just one of many ageing dams worldwide not designed for ever more extreme rainfall as the planet warms. Dams are typically designed to cope with a so-called 1-in-100-year flood event. But as the world warms the odds of extreme rainfall are changing, meaning the risk of failure is far greater. Engineers have been warning for years that many old dams around the world are already unsafe and need upgrading or dismantling.

  • Climate Change Has Made Our Stormwater Infrastructure Obsolete

    We are not ready for the extreme rainfall coming with climate change. A quick dramatic thunderstorm in New York on Wednesday flooded Staten Island so badly that brown murky water joined bus riders for their evening ride home. It’s just one in a growing number of examples of infrastructure not being up to the task. Many cities’ water management systems—think stormwater drains or dams—aren’t equipped to handle climate change-influenced weather shifts.

  • Humanity’s Ability to Feed Itself Under Growing Threat

    A new UN report warns that the world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” and that the combination of this increasingly more rapid exploitation with climate change is putting dire – and threatening — pressure on the ability of mankind to feed itself.

  • DoD “Precariously Underprepared” for Security Challenges of Climate Change

    The United States Army War College recently released a report exploring the broad impact climate change will have on national security and U.S. Army operations, and offering what it describes as urgent recommendations. The second sentence of the report captures the report’s tone and argument: “The Department of Defense is precariously underprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges.”

  • U.S. Infrastructure Unprepared for Increasing Frequency of Extreme Storms

    Current design standards for United States hydrologic infrastructure are unprepared for the increasing frequency and severity of extreme rainstorms, meaning structures like retention ponds and dams will face more frequent and severe flooding, according to a new study.

  • Nuclear Power Offers an Abundant Supply of Low-Carbon Energy. But What to Do With the Deadly Radioactive Waste?

    The dilemma of how to manage nuclear waste — radioactive materials routinely produced in large quantities at every stage of nuclear power production, from uranium mining and enrichment to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent fuel — has taxed the industry, academics and governments for decades. Along with accidents, it has been a major reason for continuing public opposition to the industry’s further expansion despite substantial interest in nuclear power’s status as a low-carbon power source that can help mitigate climate change. The race is on to develop new strategies for permanently storing some of the most dangerous materials on the planet.

  • 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.