• Monitoring dams to protect Kentucky water front communities

    Out of the approximately 90,000 dams in the United States, roughly 90 percent are state, municipal or privately-owned. That makes two-thirds of the dams in America—regulating the flow of canals, generating power and protecting communities from flooding—subject to greater variation in safety standards and disaster preparedness than the rest.

  • Now that Russia has apparently hacked America’s grid, shoring up security is more important than ever

    Hackers taking down the U.S. electricity grid may sound like a plot ripped from a Bruce Willis action movie, but the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI recently disclosed that Russia has infiltrated “critical infrastructure” like American power plants, water facilities and gas pipelines. There is no time to waste in shoring up the grid’s security. Yet getting that done is not easy, as I’ve learned through my research regarding efforts in to stave off outages in hurricane-prone Florida.

  • Federal funding moves ShakeAlert closer to reality

    A recent boost in federal funding will move the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system closer to completion. The omnibus spending package allocates $12.9 million for continued development and limited public rollout of the system. It also appropriates $10 million for capital costs to add more earthquake sensors and improve system infrastructure.

  • Carbon taxes could make significant dent in climate change, study finds

    Putting a price on carbon, in the form of a fee or tax on the use of fossil fuels, coupled with returning the generated revenue to the public in one form or another, can be an effective way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. That’s one of the conclusions of an extensive analysis of several versions of such proposals, carried out by researchers at MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

  • Predicting East Coast hurricane flooding risks

    A model developed at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will soon make its debut in the real world, helping to characterize and predict the paths and impacts of hurricanes on the East Coast.

  • Shoring up beaches by just adding sand

    New research is shedding light on how mechanically placed sand on San Diego County beaches moves and its potential impacts. The study could help planners develop beach nourishment projects that will reach their intended goals without causing unintended problems.

  • Space weather threatens high-tech life

    In September 1859, parts of the United States were crippled by a fierce space weather storm. Today’s even more sensitive electronics and satellites would be devastated should an event of that magnitude occur again. In 2008, a panel of experts commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences issued a detailed report with a sobering conclusion: The world would be thrown back to the life of the early 1800s, and it would take years – or even a decade – to recover from an event that large.

  • Pulling valuable metals from e-waste makes economic sense

    Electronic waste — including discarded televisions, computers and mobile phones — is one of the fastest-growing waste categories worldwide. For years, recyclers have gleaned usable parts, including metals, from this waste stream. That makes sense from a sustainability perspective, but it’s been unclear whether it’s reasonable from an economic viewpoint. Now researchers report that recovering gold, copper and other metals from e-waste is cheaper than obtaining these metals from mines.

  • Outgoing U.S. national security adviser: West has “failed to impose sufficient costs” on Russia

    Outgoing White House national security adviser H. R. McMaster has called for stronger measures against Russian “threats” and “provocations,” arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is mistaken in thinking the West will not push back against the Kremlin’s “hybrid warfare.” The comments were some of the strongest to date on Russia by McMaster, whose last day at the White House will be next week.

  • Artificial levees on Mississippi River dramatically increased extreme floods

    A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River. It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century—mostly due to projects to straighten, channelize, and bound the river with artificial levees. The new research also uncovered a clear pattern over the centuries linking flooding on the Mississippi with natural fluctuations of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean water temperatures.

  • Nuclear waste may soon be a thing of the past

    During the Cold War, the U.S. Department of Energy produced tons of nuclear material for the development of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Today, the United States is awash in radioactive material from weapons production and some from nuclear power plants that could take 100,000 years to go away. A recent FIU chemistry graduate might help researchers unlock the secrets to make nuclear waste safer.

  • Flood risk denial in U.S. coastal communities

    Rising sea levels have worsened the destruction that routine tidal flooding causes in the nation’s coastal communities. On the U.S. mainland, communities in Louisiana, Florida and Maryland are most at risk. Stemming the loss of life and property is a complex problem. Elected officials can enact policies to try to lessen the damage of future flooding. Engineers can retrofit vulnerable buildings. But, in the face of a rising tide, changing hearts and minds might be the most formidable obstacle to decreasing the damage done by flooding.

  • Russian ships scouting key communication cables

    Russia has not only attacked the infrastructure of American democracy, but has also engaged in what the U.S. government describes as a pervasive, wide-ranging cyber-assault on U.S. energy grid and other key components of the U.S. critical infrastructure. These attacks included leaving “sleeper” malware in key infrastructure nodes, which would allow Russia – remotely, and at the time of its choosing — to turn off power stations, open dam gates, shutdown water treatment facilities, and more. Western intelligence services have spotted Russian ships lurking around critical underwater communications cables, causing concern the Kremlin is doing reconnaissance in preparation for possible future retaliatory action.

  • U.K.'s best cyber defenders compete for chance to take on the U.S. cyber best

    Inter-ACE, now in its third year, was established to help resolve the vast and growing cyber security skills gap, with an estimated shortfall of 1.8 million workers worldwide by 2022. More than 130 students representing eighteen of the U.K.’s top cybersecurity universities battled it out at the Inter-ACE 2018 cybersecurity challenge, hosted by the University of Cambridge. The competition, supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center, and designed to attract the next generation of cybersecurity talent.

  • Remotely monitoring nuclear reactors

    A new U.S. Department of Energy project to develop the first detector able to remotely monitor nuclear reactors will also help physicists test the next generation of neutrino observatories. Nuclear reactions produce telltale antineutrinos – the antimatter counterpart of neutrinos. The new detectors will be designed to measure the energy of such antineutrinos and the direction from which they come, allowing monitoring of reactors from a distance of 25 kilometers to verify nonproliferation agreements.