Infrastructure

  • Israel’s navy protects more than the country’s coast

    Cyber warriors working for Israel’s navy are constantly engaged in protecting against intense cyber intrusions which targets the country’s digital infrastructure, according to a senior navy source. “The navy understands that cyber conflicts are wars in their own right, beyond conventional conflicts that we have grown accustomed to. In cyber war, one can engage without firing a single bullet. Attacks can come before a conventional war. There are no official cease-fires. It goes on all of the time,” the source said.

  • Water scarcity increase Middle East instability

    At least1.6 billion people worldwide face water scarcity because their countries lack the necessary infrastructure to move water from rivers and aquifers. In the Middle East, this lack of water infrastructure combines with the effects of global warming — including prolonged in droughts — to make the entire region politically and economically unstable. Food supplies are diminished as farmers find it difficult to find water for crops, and even basic sanitary requirements are not met due to poor access to clean water, thus increasing the spread of disease.

  • NIST releases draft Community Resilience Planning Guide for public review

    Over the last four years, the United States experienced forty-two extreme weather events which caused at least $1 billion in damage, for a total cost of about $227 billion and 1,286 lives lost. In all, there were 334 major disaster declarations in the United States between 2010 and 2014. The United States experienced about 500 natural disasters between 1994 and 2013, ranking second globally, behind China. The ten deadliest of these U.S. disasters killed more than 4,000 people. NIST issued a draft guide to help communities plan for and act to keep windstorms, floods, earthquakes, sea-level rise, industrial mishaps, and other hazards from inflicting disastrous consequences.

  • Web app helps Miami residents visualize how sea level rise affects their homes

    Researchers have developed a web app, known as the Sea Level Rise Toolbox, which helps Miami-Dade residents visualize the possible impact of rising seas in South Florida on their neighborhoods. The Web app, using elevation data from the Google Elevation Service, and based on sea level rise calculations created by Peter Harlem, a scientist at FIU’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center, is an interactive sea-level rise viewer where users can enter an address to visualize how up to a 6-foot rise in sea level may affect Miami-Dade County neighborhoods.

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  • Safety procedures have not kept up with new, deeper offshore oil drilling operations

    Just five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, which leaked roughly 134 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, federal agencies have approved even deeper series of next-generation wells, which critics cite as too new to be properly regulated. Concerned scientists and industry officials are arguing that the recently allowed wells have not yet developed proper corresponding safety procedures to prevent a disaster similar, or worse, than the one which befell the Macondo well.

  • Nepal would have benefitted from a seismic early-warning system: Experts

    As far back as the thirteenth century, Nepal experienced a major earthquake every seventy-five years or so, and just like the recent magnitude 7.8 quake, no one has been able to predict exactly when the next quake will strike. If forecasters are unable to anticipate quakes days or weeks ahead, then residents of earthquake prone areas may have to rely on early-warning systems which are able to provide a few seconds notice before an earthquake strikes. Earthquake early-warning systems have been deployed in a few seismic hot zones including Japan, Mexico, and California.

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  • Israel worries about its own Big One

    The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal, leaving more than 4,000 people dead, has alerted earthquake experts in Israel about the country’s own seismic risk, which could result in a large quake months or a few years from now. Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan are sitting on a major fault line which constitutes “a real, as well as a current, threat to the safety, social integrity, and economic well-being of the people in the region,” reads a 2007 earthquake report.

  • Preventing a Fukushima-like disaster in Europe

    In 2005, Europe was exposed to a potential risk of a nuclear disaster caused by the flooding of the Loviisa nuclear power plant in Finland. Sea levels rose by 1.73 meter above normal levels, due to a storm. As a result, flood defenses have been reinforced. Floods are likely to occur more frequently than anticipated when nuclear power plants where built, due to climate change. Improved safety management and further collaboration between experts are required to minimize the risk of flooding at coastal nuclear plants in Europe.

  • Miami Beach luxury real estate market is booming in the face of rising sea levels

    By 2100, sea levels could rise by as much as six feet. Miami Beach, with its dense population and low altitude, is on the list of U.S. cities at greatest risk. This recognition has not slowed down the region’s luxury real estate market. To help drain city streets during high tides and floods, Miami Beach is installing an eighty pumping system units expected to cost between $300 and $500 million.Scientists are skeptical of plans to solve the city’s flood and tackle sea level rise problem with pumps, saying the only solution is rebuilding and retrofitting some city infrastructure at higher levels – and moving some neighborhood inland. “If you spend [the money] on the easy stuff, you’re not going to have any money left for the hard stuff,” says one geologist. “So my concern is the longer-term sea level rise that’s going to get real expensive — and if we’re all broke because we blew all that money saving a few places that should have been moved.”

  • As climate warms, vast amounts of carbon may be release from long-frozen Arctic soils

    Scientists estimate there is more than ten times the amount of carbon in the Arctic soil than has been put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution. To look at it another way, scientists estimate there is two and a half times more carbon locked away in the Arctic deep freezer than there is in the atmosphere today. Now, with a warming climate, that deep freezer is beginning to thaw and that long-frozen carbon is beginning to be released into the environment.

  • Efforts to improve cyber information sharing between the private sector, government

    Lately, Obama administration officials having been venturing West to encourage tech firms to support the government’s efforts to improve cyber information sharing between the private sector and government agencies. The House of Representatives last week passed two bills to advance such effort. The Protecting Cyber Networks Act and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 authorize private firms to share threat data such as malware signatures, Internet protocol addresses, and domain names with other companies and the federal government. To the liking of the private sector, both bills offer companies liability protection for participating in cyberthreat information sharing.

  • Nepal shows its vulnerability after devastating earthquake

    For some time scientists have realized that the Kathmandu valley is one of the most dangerous places in the world, in terms of earthquake risk. And now a combination of high seismic activity at the front of the Tibetan plateau, poor building standards, and haphazard urbanization have come together with fatal consequences.

  • Oklahoma scientists warn about fracking-induced earthquakes

    Using stronger language than in the past, the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) announced on Tuesday that the state’s ongoing waves of earthquakes are “very unlikely to represent a naturally occurring process.” The OGS says that fracking was likely a cause for the increased seismicity. The state’s seismicity rate in 2013 was seventy times greater than the rate before 2008, and rapidly grew to about 600 times greater today, according to the OGS. The average oil well in Oklahoma requires about ten barrels of saltwater to be injected for every barrel of oil that can be pumped out.

  • France’s flagship nuclear power reactor hobbled by mishaps, delays

    France’s position as a leader in the nuclear energy industry is being undermined by the country’s pending flagship nuclear reactor, which may be delayed by another year following a series of setbacks. The third-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), built by Areva and EDF, was meant to be in operation by 2012 and its designers claimed it would be one of the safest — built to resist the impact of a commercial airliner crash — and the most energy efficient reactors in the world. EPR was to represent France’s nuclear renaissance, a vision to replace the country’s aging nuclear plants over time. The renaissance, however, has faced several setbacks, mishaps, and delays.

  • U.S. action on climate change hobbled by economics and politics, not divided science: Study

    The U.S. Congress successfully hears the “supermajority” consensus on the reality and causes of climate change, according to new research, which analyzed 1,350 testimonies from 253 relevant congressional hearings from 1969 to 2007. Among expert witnesses who expressed a view, 86 percent say that global warming and climate change is happening and 78 percent say it is caused by human activity. Under Republican-controlled Congresses, a three-quarter supermajority of scientists say that global warming and climate change are real and anthropogenic. Most significant of all, 95 percent of scientists giving testimonies support action to combat it. “Different perceptions and claims among lawmakers are a major hurdle to agreeing on action to address global warming and these were thought to simply reflect scientific uncertainty,” says one of the authors. “However, our findings show that congressional testimonies are in fact consistent with agreement in the climate science community and that the sources of controversies must lie elsewhere.”