• Natural disasters have pushed Australia’s disaster insurance sky high

    As natural disasters and superstorms become more frequent in Australia, the insurance rates for people who live and work in vulnerable areas have skyrocketed to the point where people may have no choice but to go uninsured.

  • Lessons from the 2010-11 Australia floods

    New research has come up with ways quickly to assess flood damage to houses while also showing most people did not intend to make changes to reduce their vulnerability after the 2010-11 Australia floods. Two separate reports show how lessons learned from households affected by the 2010-11 Australian floods can minimize damage under current and future climates.

  • Sediment carried by 2011 Mississippi flood shored up Louisiana’s wetlands

    The spring 2011 flood on the Mississippi was among the largest floods ever, the river swelling over its banks and wreaking destruction in the surrounding areas. A new study also shows, however, that the floods reaped environmental benefits — transporting and laying down new sediment in portions of the Delta — that may help maintain the area’s wetlands.

  • Cleanup starts after Mississippi tornado, storms

    Emergency officials in Mississippi spent Monday dealing with the damage after a number of storms and a tornado ripped through the southern section of the state, injuring at least sixty people. No deaths were reported.

  • Northeast U.S. digs out after deadly snowstorm

    About 250,000 homes and businesses in northeast United States remain remained without power this morning as a blizzard dumped more than three feet of snow on north-mid-Atlantic and New England states, and parts of Canada. The death toll was at fifteen. Utilities in New England said the storm could leave some customers in the dark at least until Tuesday. About 650,000 lost power in eight states at the height of the storm.

  • Tiny organisms in oceans can save islands from rising sea levels: study

    Warming climate is causing sea levels to rise, posing a special threat to low-lying island nations. The government of the Maldive Islands, an island nation in the Indian Ocean consisting of a chain of twenty-six atolls, has begun exploring the possibility of purchasing land in Africa to relocate the entire population – about 330,000 – once rising sea water begin to swallow the small atolls. Scientists found out, though, that the warming temperature of the seas is causing tiny single-cell organisms to are spreading rapidly through the world’s oceans, where they just might be able to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

  • NY to buy, demolish beachfront homes, make way for storm buffers

    New York governor Andrew Cuomo plans to use $400 million in federal funding to buy beachfront homes as part of a broader plan to reshape the New York coastline so the state is better prepared for sea level rise, surges, and storms. The plan is to raze the purchased homes and leave to shore front vacant. Some properties would be turned into dunes, wetlands, or other natural buffers. Other parcels could be combined and turned into public parkland.

  • Making buildings more tsunamis-resilient

    Often in disasters such as tsunamis, people escape the on-rushing wall of water by climbing to higher ground, called vertical evacuation. As people race to the third or fourth floor of a building, however, how do they know whether the building will hold up? Walls of water often carry with them cars, trucks, and 60,000-pound fully loaded cargo containers, transforming them into projectiles which slam into buildings with tremendous force. Most structural systems are designed to defy gravity, not a side kick from a shipping container. Engineers are now studying the impact of tsunami-carried debris in order to make buildings and other structures more disaster-resilient.

  • Climate change threatens public health, safety, economy along U.S. coasts

    A new technical study from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that the effects of climate change will continue to threaten the health and vitality of U.S. coastal communities’ social, economic, and natural systems. All U.S. coasts are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise, erosion, storms, and flooding, especially in the more populated low-lying parts of the U.S. coast along the Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, northern Alaska, Hawaii, and island territories. The report says that the financial risks associated with both private and public hazard insurance are expected to increase dramatically.

  • Osaka Basin quake map identifies high-rise buildings at risk

    The Osaka Basin, Japan is home to many high-rise buildings which sit atop its thick soft sediments, vulnerable to long-period strong ground motions that last minutes. A new map created by Japanese researchers is intends to guide engineers and city planners in new construction and identifies existing buildings with the potential of resonance vibration.

  • Extreme rainfall linked to global warming

    A worldwide review of global rainfall data has found that the intensity of the most extreme rainfall events is increasing across the globe as temperatures rise. In the most comprehensive review of changes to extreme rainfall ever undertaken, researchers evaluated the association between extreme rainfall and atmospheric temperatures at more than 8,000 weather gauging stations around the world.

  • The historical probability of drought

    Droughts can severely limit crop growth, causing yearly losses of around $8 billion in the United States. It may be possible, however, to minimize those losses if farmers can synchronize the growth of crops with periods of time when drought is less likely to occur. Researchers are working to create a reliable “calendar” of seasonal drought patterns that could help farmers optimize crop production by avoiding days prone to drought.

  • “Live burns” to benefit research and firefighter training

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    Fire researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and colleagues from fire service organizations will turn abandoned wood-frame, single-family houses near the site of an old Spartanburg, South Carolina, textile mill into proving and training grounds for new science-driven fire-fighting techniques. The objective of the study is to improve firefighter safety and effectiveness.

  • Better predictions of Asian summer monsoons, tropical storms

    The amount of rainfall and number of tropical storms during the summer monsoon season greatly impact the agriculture, economy, and people in Asia. Though meteorologists and climate scientists have worked for years to develop helpful prediction systems, seasonal predictions of these two types of weather phenomena are still poor. Scientists have now made a promising breakthrough for predicting in spring both the summer monsoon rainfall over East Asia and the number of tropical storms affecting East Asian coastal areas.

  • House approves $50.7 billion Sandy relief bill

    The House Tuesday night approved, by a vote of 241 to 180, the $50.7 billion in a Sandy relief package, the second installment of a $60.4 billion package requested by the White House and approved by the Senate (last week the House approved the $9.7 million flood-insurance part of the package). Effort by conservative members of the House to offset a part of the bill’s cost with across-the-board federal budget cuts failed on a 258-162 vote.