• Soils Could Be Affected by Climate Change, Impacting Water and Food

    Coasts, oceans, ecosystems, weather and human health all face impacts from climate change, and now valuable soils may also be affected. Climate change may reduce the ability of soils to absorb water in many parts of the world, according to a Rutgers-led study. And that could have serious implications for groundwater supplies, food production and security, stormwater runoff, biodiversity and ecosystems.

  • These Dams Needed Replacing 15 Years Ago. Now Texas Will Drain Four Lakes Instead — Causing Other Problems.

    Texas officials will start draining four lakes next week in Guadalupe County in Central Texas without a plan in place for when the lakes, and the 90-year-old dams that support them, will be rebuilt. Area homeowners, who got barely a month’s notice, said they felt blindsided by the plan, and they say it will slash their property values, kill their beloved century-old cypress trees and render the lakes — which have hosted water skiing tournaments for decades — unusable.

  • Microplastics Harming Our Drinking Water

    Plastics in our waste streams are breaking down into tiny particles, causing potentially catastrophic consequences for human health and our aquatic systems. Approximately 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year and up to 13 million tons of that is released into rivers and oceans, contributing to approximately 250 million tons of plastic by 2025. Since plastic materials are not generally degradable through weathering or ageing, this accumulation of plastic pollution in the aquatic environment creates a major health concern.

  • Faster, Smarter Security Screening Systems

    By now, attendees to sporting events, visitors to office buildings, and especially frequent fliers are all quite familiar with the technologies used at security checkpoints. You arrive at the security checkpoint, check your bags, show your ID and maybe your ticket or boarding pass, throw away the coffee or water you’ve been chugging, and then wait in a long line until it is your turn to be screened. The security lines can be inconvenient. S&T and partners are working to help security screening systems, whether at airports, government facilities, border checkpoints, or public spaces like arenas, to work faster and smarter.

  • Boosting Energy Security: Lessons from Post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico

    It took nearly a year for the government-run Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which is the only power company in Puerto Rico, to restore electricity throughout the island. This was the biggest and longest power outage in U.S. history.As scientists suggest that weather will probably become more extreme and weather-related natural disasters are likely to intensify in the coming decades,we can learn some valuable lessons from what Puerto Rico has gone through in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

  • Europe, U.S. Teaming up for Asteroid Deflection

    Asteroid researchers and spacecraft engineers from the U.S., Europe and around the world will gather in Rome next week to discuss the latest progress in their common goal: an ambitious double-spacecraft mission to deflect an asteroid in space, to prove the technique as a viable method of planetary defense.

  • Want to Avoid Climate-Related Disasters? Try Moving

    The response to catastrophes — Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Michael — tended to be a defiant vow to rebuild, turn loss into lesson by making protective seawalls higher and stronger to hold back floods, or raising homes onto stilts to stay clear of the encroaching waves. To this, experts say, “Enough.” The time has come to consider a different path: retreat. Abandon areas prone to repeated disaster in favor of those that are safer and do so in a deliberate, thoughtful way.

  • Retreating from Rising Seas Isn’t a Win or a Defeat — It’s Reality

    “Managed retreat” is a controversial response to climate change. It’s the idea that communities and governments should be strategic about moving people away from areas that have become too waterlogged to live in safely. Retreating from coastlines and riversides might have once been considered unthinkable. But across the world, it’s already happening — in Australia, Colombia, Vietnam, and here in the United States. And Indonesia just found itself a new capital. The country’s president, Joko Widodo, announced on Monday that the new seat of government will be on the island of Borneo, hundreds of miles to the northeast of the current capital, Jakarta. The Java Sea threatens to swallow 95 percent of the city over the next 30 years.

  • DHS Seeks Standards for “Smart City” Sensors, Starting in St. Louis

    The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate is kicking off a pilot program that will test the integration of smart city technologies in St. Louis, Missouri. Working in collaboration with the city and the Open Geospatial Consortium, agency insiders will use the pilot to research, design and assess Homeland Security’s Smart City Interoperability Reference Architecture, or SCIRA.

  • Better Support Column Design to Help Bridges to Withstand Earthquakes

    Bridges make travel faster and more convenient, but, in an earthquake, these structures are subject to forces that can cause extensive damage and make them unsafe. Researchers are investigating the performance of hybrid sliding-rocking (HSR) columns. HSR columns provide the same support as conventional bridge infrastructure columns but are more earthquake-resistant.

  • Helping Structures Better Withstand Earthquakes, Wind, and Fire

    NIST is awarding more than $6.6 million to fund research into improving disaster resilience. Eleven organizations will receive 12 grants to conduct research into how earthquakes, wind and fire affect the built environment to inform building designs, codes and standards to help those structures better withstand such hazards.

  • How to Measure Cybersecurity

    Many experts agree that there are no universally recognized, generally accepted metrics by which to measure and describe cybersecurity improvements, and that, as a result, decision-makers are left to make choices about cybersecurity implementation based on qualitative measures rather than quantitative ones. Robert Taylo argues that the “search for quantitative metrics and dismissal of qualitative metrics ignores the dynamic nature of the challenge of ensuring cybersecurity, as well as the critical role of processes and procedures. Cybersecurity is a matter not just of the equipment and tools in place but also of how the equipment and tools are used by people, and how the organization ensures that the equipment and tools and methods of use are kept up to date. Qualitative measures that are discernible and reproducible are and will continue to be essential in helping to guide sound investment and operational decisions.”

  • Governments Mull “Managed Retreat” of Coastal Towns Before Rising Seas Claim Them

    More and more governments around the world are advised by experts to prepare to make a “managed retreat” from coasts as sea levels rise because of climate change. Scientists say that a decision to leave the coasts should not be “seen largely as a last resort, a failure to adapt, or a one-time emergency action.” Rather, it should be viewed as an opportunity to build better communities away from the rising waters.

  • Risks Grow as Countries Share Electricity Across Borders

    Increasing interconnection of electricity systems both within and between countries has much promise to help support clean energy power systems of the future. If the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing in one place, an electricity grid with high voltage transmission lines can move electricity to where it is needed. This shared infrastructure and increased trade can possibly serve as a basis for peace between neighbors in conflict, but it may also serve as a tool of coercion if the electricity can be cut off by one party.

  • Key Takeaways from the Fukushima Disaster

    In March and April of 2011 the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster resulted in what was the largest ever accidental release of radioactive material into the ocean. “Even though the levels of radiation in the area and in the marine organisms were elevated, they were actually not a threat to the ecosystem or to human consumers in most cases,” says an expert.