Natural disasters

  • Extreme weatherSevere-weather warnings most effective if probability included: Study

    Risk researchers find that the public may respond best to severe weather warnings if they include a probability estimate, an important finding not only for the present but also for the longer-term future as climate change brings more frequent and severe threats. As severe storm and other disaster warnings become more frequent, new research in this field could become critical for reducing weather-related injury and death.

  • Extreme weatherGlobal warming won't lead to more storms, but will make storms stronger

    A study by atmospheric physicists finds that global warming will not lead to an overall increasingly stormy atmosphere, a topic debated by scientists for decades. Instead, strong storms will become stronger while weak storms become weaker, and the cumulative result of the number of storms will remain unchanged.

  • ResiliencePreparing the Pacific Northwest for the Big One

    More than three hundred years ago this week, the geologic fault off Washington and Oregon’s coast lurched and caused a massive earthquake. The resulting tsunami sent ocean water surging far inland, and generated waves felt across the Pacific Ocean in Japan. Now, on the quake’s 315th anniversary, scientists are helping prepare the region for a repeat event that could come at any time. Efforts include helping design the first tsunami evacuation structure in the United States, a campus-wide research project on major earthquakes, and an upcoming rollout of early earthquake alerts.

  • Coastal infrastructureN.C. considering regulations to cope with sea-level rise

    Later this week, researchers peer-reviewing the latest draft report that investigates sea-level rise along North Carolina’s coast, will submit their comments to the state Coastal Resources Commission’s(CRC) Science Panel. The initial 2010 report faced criticism from climate change skeptics and some property developers who claimed the report’s 100-year outlook on sea-level rise was unrealistic. The new report looks at changes along the coast for a period of thirty years.

  • Coastal infrastructurePriorities for ocean science over next decade: Sea-level rise, geohazards

    A new report from the National Research Council identifies priority areas for ocean science research in the next decade, including the rate and impacts of sea-level rise, the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems, greater understanding of marine food webs, and better approaches for forecasting hazards such as mega-earthquakes and tsunamis. The report also recommends that the National Science Foundation rebalance its funding for ocean science research, which in recent years has shifted toward research infrastructure at the expense of core science programs.

  • Doomsday ClockBulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves Doomsday Clock forward in dire warning

    TheBulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a 70-year old publication which monitors nuclear, security, and environmental developments, has pushed ahead its symbolic Doomsday Clock by two minutes — from five minutes to midnight to three minutes — amidst growing concerns about climate change and nuclear arsenal upkeep.

  • Infrastructure protectionNew climate change projections for Australia

    CSIRO and the Australian government’s Bureau of Meteorology the other day released climate change projections for Australia which provide updated national and regional information on how the climate may change to the end of the twenty-first century. The projections are the most comprehensive ever released for Australia and have been prepared with an emphasis on informing impact assessment and planning in the natural resource management sector. Information has been drawn from simulations based on up to forty global climate models.

  • Coastal infrastructureMiami Beach to raise West Avenue in the face of sea-level rise

    City planners in Miami Beach will begin the first phase of a two-part project to raise West Avenue between 1.5 to two feet during the next few years in an effort to prepare the area in the face of sea-level rise. The project will coincide with stormwater drainage and sewer improvements which include installing more pumps to prevent flooding from rain and high tides.

  • Tornado safe roomsOhio helps resident pay for tornado safe rooms

    In recent years, Ohio has averaged twenty-three tornadoes annually. The state also experienced winds topping 70 mph during Hurricane Ike in 2008, 100 mph in the derecho during the summer of 2012, and near hurricane-force winds along Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio during superstorm Sandy in the fall of 2012. Many Ohio residents living along “Tornado Alley” have rehearsed their escape plans several times to prepare for the next time a tornado touches ground. To offer residents better protection, since 2013 the Ohio Emergency Management Agency(EMA) has been helping qualified homeowners pay for safe rooms which can withstand the most destructive windstorms.

  • Disaster responseDrawing disaster response lessons by comparing quake responses

    Following the devastating 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake which hit the Tohoku region of Japan, many local and provincial governments rushed to aid the people in the area with personnel and materials, providing important relief in a time of crisis. At a recent symposium, some were comparing the response to the 2011 disaster to the response to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995 in order to draw lessons and offer guidelines in effective crisis management.

  • EarthquakesFracking-induced tremors lead to changes in building codes, insurance rates

    For its upcoming National Seismic Hazard Map, used by engineers to update building and construction codes and by insurers to set policy rates, the U.S. Geological Survey(USGS) will take into account risks posed by induced or man-made earthquakes. For North Texas, where earthquakes are historically uncommon, an increase in earthquake risk is likely as the Dallas area has suffered more than 120 earthquakes since 2008. Scientists have attributed these earthquakes to nearby fracking operations.

  • WaterAtmospheric rivers, cloud-creating aerosol particles, and California water situation

    In the midst of the California rainy season, scientists – using aircraft, research vessel, and ground stations — are embarking on a field campaign designed to improve the understanding of the natural and human-caused phenomena that determine when and how the state gets its precipitation. They will do so by studying atmospheric rivers, meteorological events that include the famous rainmaker known as the Pineapple Express. Atmospheric rivers, which produce up to 50 percent of California’s precipitation and can transport 10-20 times the flow of the Mississippi River.

  • Louisiana wetlandsLouisiana governor seeks to uphold law blocking wetlands damages lawsuit

    Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (R) has asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of Act 544, a law passed to block the wetlands damages lawsuit levied by the East Bank Levee Authority against more than eighty oil, gas, and pipeline companies for the damage their operations have inflicted on Louisiana wetlands. On 3 December of last year by the 19th Judicial District Court Judge Janice Clark declared the law unconstitutional.

  • Disaster recoveryFEMA paid cities for damages that should have been covered by insurance: Audit

    Though the hurricanes which ravaged much of Florida in 2004 and 2005 are 10-year-old events, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still dealing with the damages and fallout, and a new audit reveals that the agency may have paid for city damages that should have been covered by insurance companies. It is estimated that $177 million in payments may be at issue. The audit also found that FEMA improperly waived the need for hurricane-stricken communities to buy insurance to protect against future events, meaning that the agency and taxpayers may have to pay to cover future damages that they would not have had to cover if the procedures had been followed. More specifically, the audit found that FEMA stands to lose roughly $1 billion in future damage costs because of this.

     

  • Coastal infrastructureSea level rise has been more rapid than previously understood: Study

    The acceleration of global sea level change from the end of the twentieth century through the last two decades has been significantly swifter than scientists thought, according to a new Harvard study. The study shows that calculations of global sea-level rise from 1900 to 1990 had been overestimated by as much as 30 percent. The report, however, confirms estimates of sea-level change since 1990, suggesting that the rate of change is increasing more rapidly than previously understood.