• Texas earthquake may have been manmade, but more data needed to assess hazards

    The most comprehensive analysis to date of a series of earthquakes that included a 4.8 magnitude event in East Texas in 2012 has found it plausible that the earthquakes were caused by wastewater injection. The findings also underscore the difficulty of conclusively tying specific earthquakes to human activity using currently available subsurface data.

  • New way to clean contaminated groundwater

    A team of researchers has helped discover a new chemical method to immobilize uranium in contaminated groundwater, which could lead to more precise and successful water remediation efforts at former nuclear sites. Uranium is present in contaminated groundwater at various sites in the United States as a legacy of Cold War-era processing and waste disposal activities associated with nuclear materials production.

  • FBI, DHS warn grid operators about cyber threats to power grid

    The FBI and DHS are warning infrastructure operators about the potential cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid. The FBI and DHS have launched a nationwide campaign to alert power companies and security firms, a campaign which includes briefings and online Webinars.

  • Microgrids to enhance diversity, reliability, resilience

    For more than 100 years, the United States electrical grid operated on a one-way delivery model: power generation, transmission, and distribution in response to user demand. Electricity came from big coal-fired plants and hydroelectric dams, later supplemented by nuclear and natural gas plants, and went out to the world as a mix of baseload and peaking power. With more renewable energy integration, smaller-scale and more widely distributed energy resources, and a demand for increased reliability and resilience, the grid of the future is shaping up to be a two-way power flow, with demand adapting more and more to available supply.

  • Oil, gas wastewater disposal pollutes surface water, harm waterways

    Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations combine directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas and oil from underground rock. This process results in in water pollution which may increase endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in surface and ground water, exposing populations living near these operations to increased risk of disease. High levels of EDC activity were found in the surface water near a hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal facility in West Virginia. Approximately 36,000 of these disposal wells are currently in operation across the United States.

  • Water cycle instability posing major political and economic risks: UN experts

    The current instability and unpredictability of the world water cycle is here to stay, making society’s adaptation to new risks a vital necessity when formulating development policies, a UN water expert warns. “What we haven’t understood until now is the extent to which the fundamental stability of our political structures and global economy are predicated on relative stability and predictability of the water cycle — that is, how much water becomes available in what part of the year. As a result of these new water-climate patterns, political stability and the stability of economies in most regions of the world are now at risk,” the expert says.

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  • Renewables and nuclear no substitute for carbon dioxide disposal

    Oxford scientist argues that there are only two things we can affect with policies today that will really matter for peak warming: reducing the cost of large-scale capture and disposal of carbon dioxide, and maximizing the average rate of economic growth we achieve for a given rate of emission in the meantime.

  • Flooding, accelerated sea-level rise in Miami over last decade

    Miami Beach flood events have significantly increased over the last decade due to an acceleration of sea-level rise in South Florida. Scientists suggest that regional sea-level projections should be used in place of global projections to better prepare for future flood hazards in the region.

  • Global warming of 2.5°C degrees would put at risk trillions of dollars of world’s financial assets

    An average of $2.5 trillion, or 1.8 percent, of the world’s financial assets would be at risk from the impacts of climate change if global mean surface temperature rises by 2.5°C (4.5°F) above its pre-industrial level by 2100, according to a new study. that the authors found, however, that uncertainties in estimating the “climate Value at Risk” mean that there is a 1 percent chance that warming of 2.5°C could threaten $24 trillion, or 16.9 percent, of global financial assets in 2100.

  • Analyzing the effects of rising sea levels in Norfolk, Va.

    In Norfolk, Virginia, an East Coast city which is home to the world’s largest naval station and important seaports, catastrophic flooding could damage more than homes and roads. A new study from Sandia National Laboratories assesses how much the city, its region, and the nation would suffer in damages to national assets and lost economic activity if it does nothing to address rising sea levels. The analysis method is available to cities that want to become more resilient.

  • Is Belgium’s nuclear security up to scratch?

    Belgium’s counter-terrorism efforts are once again being called into question following the recent tragedies in Brussels. The attacks were carried out against soft targets – the public check-in area of Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station – but a series of unusual and suspicious occurrences were also reported at nuclear facilities in the country. These events highlight the very real threat to nuclear facilities. For Belgium, this recent episode is one item on a long list of security concerns. Based on this history, the Belgian authorities should be primed to take nuclear security especially seriously. But there are serious questions about whether they are.

  • Rapid Antarctica ice melt: Sea-level rise nearly double over earlier estimates

    A new study suggests that the most recent estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for future sea-level rise over the next 100 years could be too low by almost a factor of two. The researchers incorporated into their models mechanisms that were previously known but never incorporated in a model like this before, and added them to their ice-sheet model, so they could consider the effects of surface melt water on the break-up of Antarctica’s ice shelves and the collapse of vertical ice cliffs.

  • Laser cloaking device to help us hide Earth from aliens

    Several prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have cautioned against humanity broadcasting our presence to intelligent life on other planets. Two astronomers suggest humanity could use lasers to conceal the Earth from searches by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • U.K. to ship highly enriched uranium for disposal in U.S.

    The United Kingdom will ship large quantities of enriched uranium for disposal in the United States, and in return will receive nuclear material from the United States for use in the treatment of cancer patients in Europe. About 700kg of radioactive waste, most of which is held at Dounreay in northern Scotland, will be shipped to the United States to be treated in American nuclear disposal plants, which have a greater capacity than British plants to dispose of radioactive materials.

  • Water problems in Asia’s future?

    Economic and population growth on top of climate change could lead to serious water shortages across a broad swath of Asia by the year 2050. Having run a large number of simulations of future scenarios, the researchers find that the median amounts of projected growth and climate change in the next thirty-five years in Asia would lead to about one billion more people becoming “water-stressed” compared to today.