• New Sensor Improves Earthquake Response Efforts

    The recent massive southern California earthquakes shut down Ridgecrest Regional Hospital throughout the 4 July holiday weekend while the tiny town of Ridgecrest assessed the damages. Researchers developed a new optical sensor which could speed up the time it takes to evaluate whether critical buildings like these are safe to occupy shortly after a major earthquake.

  • Raising Tough Questions about Retreat from Rising Seas

    As the global thermostat climbs and polar ice melts, the oceans are swelling and swallowing up coastlines. By some calculations, rising seas could displace 13 million Americans by 2100. While some communities are attempting to adapt in place with elevated buildings and seawalls to divert water, relocation appears inevitable for many.

  • Preventing West Antarctic Ice Collapse by Snowing Ocean Water onto It

    The ice sheet covering West Antarctica is at risk of sliding off into the ocean. The slow, yet inexorable loss of West Antarctic ice is likely to continue even after climate warming is stabilized. A collapse will raise sea levels worldwide by more than three meters. Researchers are now scrutinizing a daring way of stabilizing the ice sheet: Generating trillions of tons of additional snowfall by pumping ocean water onto the glaciers and distributing it with snow canons.

  • As Flood Risks Increase across the U.S., It’s Time to Recognize the Limits of Levees

    Many U.S. cities rely on levees for protection from floods. There are more than 100,000 miles of levees nationwide, in all 50 states and one of every five counties. Most of them seriously need repair: Levees received a D on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2018 national infrastructure report card. Climate models show that flood risks are increasing, and across the central U.S., rivers are becoming increasingly hard to control. Faith in the idea of engineered flood control is starting to erode.

  • Can the “Masters of the Flood” Help Texas Protect Its Coast from Hurricanes?

    After centuries of fighting back water in a low-lying nation, the Dutch have become the world leaders in flood control. And their expertise is helping Texas design what would become the nation’s most ambitious — and expensive — coastal barrier.

  • Flooding: Britain’s Coastal Towns and Villages Face a Design Challenge to Cope with Climate Emergency

    As an island nation, Britain has vulnerable communities that must be prepared for the impact of the climate emergency. And while much has been said about homes at risk from the sea in coastal regions, or those inland subject to river flooding, the UK Committee on Climate Change’s new progress report for 2019 has laid bare the challenge facing them.

  • Timber Skyscrapers Can Rewind the Carbon Footprint of the Concrete Industry

    Recent innovations in engineered timber have laid the foundations for the world’s first wooden skyscrapers to appear within a decade, a feat that is not only achievable, but one they hope will beckon in an era of sustainable wooden cities, helping reverse historic emissions from the construction industry.

  • Italy’s Risky Realignment

    The Kremlin actively helped two Italian populist parties – The League and the Five Star movement – to reach power in Rome. The goal: Weaken the West and undermine the U.S.-created post-WWII international order. The Italian government is now repaying its supporters, formally endorsing China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is meant to anchor an increasingly proselytizing authoritarian regime as the center of the global economy. Italy is thus helping the world’s most powerful authoritarian state establish a beachhead in southern Europe, threatening European strategic sectors, and publicly distancing itself from the EU’s efforts to respond to a “systemic rival.”

  • California Plans to Better Use Winter Storms to Refill Its Aquifers

    With new rules coming into effect, California farmers and municipalities using groundwater must either find more water to support the aquifers or take cropland out of use. To ease the pain, engineers are looking to harness an unconventional and unwieldy source of water: the torrential storms that sometimes blast across the Pacific Ocean and soak California.

  • U.S. Costal Communities Face More than $400 Billion in Seawall Costs by 2040

    Coastal communities in the contiguous U.S. face more than $400 billion in costs over the next twenty years, much of it sooner, to defend coastal communities from inevitable sea-level rise, according to a new report. This is approaching the cost of the original interstate highway system and will require the construction of more than 50,000 miles of coastal barriers in 22 states by 2040, half the time it took to create the nation’s iconic roadway network.

  • The California Coast Is Disappearing under the Rising Sea. Our Choices Are Grim

    The California coast grew and prospered during a remarkable moment in history when the sea was at its tamest. But the mighty Pacific, unbeknownst to all, was nearing its final years of a calm but unusual cycle that had lulled dreaming settlers into a false sense of endless summer.

  • “Liquid Forensics” Checks Safety of Drinking Water

    Ping! The popular 1990 film, The Hunt for Red October, helped introduce sonar technology on submarines to pop culture. Now, nearly thirty years later, a team of scientists is using this same sonar technology as inspiration to develop a rapid, inexpensive way to determine whether the drinking water is safe to consume.

  • Huawei CVs Show Close Links with Military, Study Says

    A study of the employment information of thousands of Huawei staff has revealed deeper links with the Chinese military and intelligence apparatus than those previously acknowledged by China’s biggest telecom equipment maker. The findings are likely to add fuel to the debate among governments around the world over whether to block Huawei’s gear from the rollout of 5G telecoms networks for security reasons. Kathrin Hille writes in the Financial Times that The findings are likely to add fuel to the debate among governments around the world over whether to block Huawei’s gear from the rollout of 5G telecoms networks for security reasons. “Huawei has gone to great lengths saying they have no links with the Chinese military and security institutions,” said Prof. Balding. “The narrative they spin is false — military connections quite clearly run deep.” Analysts said the systemically close ties documented in the study reflected a pattern far beyond Huawei. One expert said such sharing or co-ordination of personnel across defense and commercial research activities was consistent with China’s national strategy for military-civil fusion.

  • U.S. Wants to Isolate Power Grids with “Rretro” Technology to Limit Cyber-attacks

    The U.S. is very close to improving power grid security by mandating the use of “retro” (analog, manual) technologies on U.S. power grids as a defensive measure against foreign cyber-attacks that could bring down power distribution as a result. Catalin Cimpanu writes in ZDNet that the idea is to use “retro” technology to isolate the grid’s most important control systems, to limit the reach of a catastrophic outage.

  • Making the World Earthquake Safe

    Can fake earthquakes help safeguard nuclear reactors against natural disasters? Visitors to this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition will be given the opportunity to find out for themselves thanks to new research.