• New Materials Could Help Clean-Up Chernobyl and Fukushima

    Engineers have developed materials that could be used to help decommission the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power stations. The materials, created in collaboration with colleagues in Ukraine, simulate Lava-like Fuel Containing Materials (LFCMs) – hazardous substances left behind by a nuclear meltdown. The development paves the way for the safe analysis of hazardous materials left behind at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

  • Coastal Risks, Land Use Policy in the Face of Sea Level Rise

    An Oregon land use policy creates a large economic value for some private homeowners who are allowed to protect their shoreline against erosion, according to a new study. The study highlights the tradeoff between a homeowner’s ability to protect their private property and public access to Oregon’s beaches. The study comes at a time when the future of coastal management in Oregon is up for discussion given the threats of sea-level rise due to climate change.

  • Materials Currently Used to Store Nuclear Waste Accelerate Corrosion

    The materials the United States and other countries plan to use to store high-level nuclear waste will likely degrade faster than anyone previously knew because of the way those materials interact, new research shows. The findings show that corrosion of nuclear waste storage materials accelerates because of changes in the chemistry of the nuclear waste solution, and because of the way the materials interact with one another.

  • Adapting to Climate Change: Policymakers Are Thinking Too Small

    When it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists and policymakers are thinking too small, according to a new research review. The authors argue that society should focus less on how individuals respond to such climate issues as flooding and wildfires and instead figure out what it takes to inspire collective action that will protect humans from climate catastrophes on a much grander scale.

  • Glaciers May Offer Safe Sites for Nuclear Waste Storage

    New insights into rates of bedrock erosion by glaciers around the world will help to identify better sites for the safe storage of nuclear waste. The findings of a new research overturn earlier research, showing that erosion rates do not increase with the speed of glacier flow as quickly as previously anticipated.

  • Building a Flood-Resilient Future

    Seven of the U.K. ten wettest years on record have occurred since 1998. Its wettest winter in history came in 2013, and the next wettest in 2015. In a single week in November 2019, 400 homes were flooded and 1,200 properties evacuated in northern England. The frequency and severity of these events is expected to increase as a result of climate change, meaning that many more communities will suffer their devastating effects. A new book shows how we can adapt the built and natural environment to be more flood resilient in the face of climate change.

  • Extreme weather Conditions Tax Urban Drainage Systems to the Max

    During a typical Canadian winter, snow accumulation and melt—combined with sudden rainfalls—can lead to bottlenecks in storm drains that can cause flooding. Researchers have been examining urban stormwater drainage systems, and they too have concerns about the resilience of many urban drainage systems.

  • Warming Oceans Could Drive Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse, Sea Level Rise

    In the U.S., four out of ten people live in populous coastal areas, making them vulnerable to the effects of rising seas. Seventy percent of the world’s largest cities are located near a coast. Globally, by 2010, seas had already risen about 10 inches above their average levels in pre-industrial times. A new study suggests the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is less stable than researchers once thought, and that its collapse would accelerate sea level rise.

  • Building Standards Give Us False Hope. There's No Such Thing as a Fireproof House

    Bushfires have killed 33 people and destroyed nearly 3,000 houses across Australia so far this fire season. Canberra is under threat right now. It isn’t only houses. Significant commercial buildings have been destroyed, among them Kangaroo Island’s iconic Southern Ocean Lodge. In New South Wales alone, 140 schools have been hit. Many require extensive work. Trouble is, Australia’s National Construction Code provides false, and dangerous, hope. The sad truth is that any practical building that is exposed to an intense bushfire will probably burn down, whether it complies with Australia’s National Construction Code or not.

  • Across the U.S., States Are Bracing for More Climate-Related Disasters

    Officials in states across the United States are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts, and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change. Alex Brown writes that “Even states whose leaders don’t publicly acknowledge the existence of climate change, such as Texas and South Carolina, have applied for federal dollars citing ‘changing coastal conditions’ or ‘unpredictability’.”

  • Huawei and 5G: U.K. Had Little Choice but Say Yes to Chinese – Here’s Why

    For the time being, the British government can hardly be enjoying the fallout from its Huawei decision. To date, much focus has been on the confidentiality of communications over mobile networks, and risks of spying. A bigger issue is the need to keep the mobile phone network running. We are in an era where everything from Uber and Deliveroo to most credit card machines cannot function without it. The nightmare scenario is a hostile state-affiliated actor shutting down or damaging the mobile networks. It may have effectively been impossible for the U.K. to say no to Huawei, but the current compromise is far from ideal.

  • Reducing Risk, Empowering Resilience to Disruptive Global Change

    Five-hundred-year floods. Persistent droughts and heat waves. More devastating wildfires. As these and other planetary perils become more commonplace, they pose serious risks to natural, managed, and built environments around the world. Assessing the magnitude of these risks over multiple decades and identifying strategies to prepare for them at local, regional, and national scales will be essential to making societies and economies more resilient and sustainable. A workshop highlights how MIT research can guide adaptation at local, regional, and national scales.

  • Protecting the U.S. Wind Energy Infrastructure

    As the planet becomes more reliant on computers and more connected via the internet, our nation’s critical infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. This is especially true for power utilities and the electric grid, which offer tempting targets to hostile actors due to the ability to cause widespread power outages or other disruptions. Indeed, cyber criminals have already infiltrated the nation’s power infrastructure, and experts say now is the time to protect these vital assets.

  • Sea Level Rise: Major Economic Impact in the Absence of Further Climate Action

    Rising sea levels, a direct impact of the Earth’s warming climate, is intensifying coastal flooding. The findings of a new study show that the projected negative economy-wide effects of coastal flooding are already significant until 2050, but are then predicted to increase substantially towards the end of the century if no further climate action on mitigation and adaptation is taken.

  • Climate Costs Smallest If Warming Is Limited to 2°C

    Climate costs are likely smallest if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius. The politically negotiated Paris Agreement is thus also the economically sensible one, Potsdam researchers find in a new study. Using computer simulations of a model by U.S. Nobel Laureate William Nordhaus, they weight climate damages from, for instance, increasing weather extremes or decreasing labor productivity against the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emission by phasing out coal and oil. Interestingly, the economically most cost-efficient level of global warming turns out to be the one more than 190 nations signed as the Paris Climate Agreement. So far however, CO2 reductions promised by nations worldwide are insufficient to reach this goal.