• Economic impact of inland waterway disruptions potentially in the billions

    What would happen if a lengthy disruption befell the major mode of transportation of U.S. corn and soybeans? What ramifications would that have on U.S. producers and the national economy? How would that affect U.S. competitiveness in world grain markets? While hypothetical, these concerns are very real as the barge corridor in question contains a total of thirty-six locks and dams that have long since surpassed their designed lifespan. This corridor is the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway (UMR-IWW) that serves as the primary corridor for the movement of bulk commodities in the United States. Corn and soybeans comprise nearly 90 percent of food and farm products on these waterways.

  • Immobilizing radioactive waste in glass for millions of years

    How do you handle nuclear waste that will be radioactive for millions of years, keeping it from harming people and the environment? It is not easy, but researchers have discovered ways to immobilize such waste – the offshoot of decades of nuclear weapons production – in glass and ceramics.

  • Natural protection: Coastal wetlands reduce cost of flood damages during hurricanes

    As communities across the Southeast United States and the Caribbean count the cost of flood and wind damage during Hurricane Matthew, a pioneering study has quantified how much protection natural coastal habitats provide during hurricanes. The study found more than $625 million in property damages were prevented during this natural catastrophe by coastal wetlands along the Northeast coast. Without wetlands, the damage bill would be much higher for Sandy and other predicted hurricanes. Where wetlands remain, the average damage reduction from Sandy was greater than 10 percent.

  • Using electricity to track water which causes degradation of concrete

    Tracking concrete degradation is essential to public safety, and the culprit behind concrete degradation is water. Water contributes to the degradation by itself, or it can carry other chemicals – like the road salt used on bridges – that can expedite corrosion of both concrete and its underlying steel reinforcement structure. Researchers have developed a new technique for tracking water in concrete structures — allowing engineers to identify potential issues before they become big problems.

  • The risk of cyber 9/11 or cyber Pearl Harbor exaggerated: Expert

    Addressing the implications of cybersecurity threats for the stability of international world order, an expert acknowledged that states will find it difficult to maintain cybersecurity in an increasingly porous and congested cyberspace, but said that cyber-experts exaggerate the threat to essential state infrastructures.

  • Some early 20th century L.A. earthquakes might have been man-made

    Some early twentieth century earthquakes in southern California might have been induced (man-made) by past practices that were used by the oil and gas industry. During the early decades of the oil boom, withdrawal of oil was not balanced by injection of fluids, in some cases leading to dramatic ground subsidence, and potentially perturbing the sub-surface stress field on nearby faults.

  • Nanomaterials help solve the problem of nuclear waste

    In the last decades, nanomaterials have gained broad scientific and technological interest due to their unusual properties compared to micrometer-sized materials. Nuclear fuels production, structural materials, separation techniques, and waste management may all benefit from more knowledge in the nano-nuclear technology.

  • Many U.S. dams are obsolete, costly, aging, and unsafe

    As is the case with much of America’s aging infrastructure, many of the country’s estimated two million dams are obsolete, costly, aging, and unsafe. Nearly 4,000 dams around the country have been reported as deficient, and the American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s dam infrastructure a D rating. “It shouldn’t take a catastrophic failure for the dams in this country to get much-needed attention,” said the author of a new report. “Unfortunately, as is the case with much of our aging infrastructure, we jump from crisis to crisis and fail to plan ahead.”

  • Water war between Asian nuclear powers looms

    A potential global catastrophe looms in Asia as rapidly rising water demand collides with a diminishing resource on which at least 300 million people depend directly, and the current political rhetoric between India and Pakistan underlines the risk of failing to manage correctly and cooperatively vital water resources shared between nations. The Indus Water Treaty governs the distribution Himalayan-origin water in the 1,120,000 km2 basin drained by the Indus River, six major tributaries, and connected waterways among India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China, but India wants to modify the treaty or walk away from it – and Pakistan announced that any Indian attempt to renege from the Treaty would be deemed an act of war.

  • Calls in Italy for quake-proofing the country’s buildings, infrastructure

    More and more Italians are urging the government to invest more funds to make buildings in the country earthquake resistant. Earlier today (Thursday), Italy was dealing with the cost of two quakes which reduced villages in the Apennines to rubble and left thousands homeless. Geologists have been saying that Italy is such seismically active country that the only option is to strengthen buildings to the extent possible and learn to live with the threat.

  • Internet of Things vulnerability: Analyzing the 21 October DDoS attack

    The Friday, 21 October 2016 Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) has been analyzed as a complex and sophisticated attack, using maliciously targeted, masked TCP, and UDP traffic over port 53. Dyn has confirmed that Mirai botnet was the primary source of the malicious attack traffic. The attack generated compounding recursive DNS retry traffic, further exacerbating the attack’s impact. Dyn says it will not speculate on the motivation or the identity of the attackers, but suggests that, but says that the attack has opened up an important conversation about Internet security and volatility. The attack has not only highlighted vulnerabilities in the security of Internet of Things (IOT) devices that need to be addressed, but it has also sparked further dialogue in the internet infrastructure community about the future of the Internet.

  • Mapping corrosive groundwater across the U.S.

    Approximately 44 million people in the United States rely on groundwater from wells as their water source. A new study found that untreated groundwater from twenty-five states could be potentially highly or very highly corrosive, a recent study finds. Corrosive water, while itself not dangerous, can dissolve lead and other metals from pipes, plumbing, and other metal surfaces into drinking water. While the quality of municipal water supplies is regulated and treated, domestic well owners are responsible for the treatment of their personal water supplies.

  • Is someone really trying to find out if they can destroy the Internet?

    A prolonged Internet outage prevented access to major sites like Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, and the New York Times on Friday. Because of the increase in number and intensity of DDoS type attacks in recent years, security analysts have theorized that some of the attacks are masking the probing of vulnerabilities. The Internet remains incredibly vulnerable to attacks on its infrastructure and right now, there are few ways of avoiding them. It does bring into question the ability of governments to put even more of its interface with the public online since as soon as it does, it becomes a potential target for malicious actors. Governments in particular need to become more adept at dealing with this possibility.

  • Wastewater disposal induced 2016 Magnitude 5.1 Oklahoma earthquake

    Distant wastewater disposal wells likely induced the third largest earthquake in recent Oklahoma record, the 13 February 2016, magnitude 5.1 event roughly thirty-two kilometers northwest of Fairview, Oklahoma. at the time, the Fairview earthquake was the largest event in the central and eastern United States since a 2011 magnitude 5.7 struck Prague, Oklahoma.

  • Bolstering energy security with homegrown energy sources

    The U.S. Department of Energy has a goal to develop and demonstrate transformative bioenergy technologies to fuel a more sustainable nation. Reaching that goal will require roughly a billion tons of biomass, so we will need to rely on a variety of resources to get the job done.