• Federal mapping tool used in Gulf spill expanded to Arctic

    A new federal interactive online mapping tool used by emergency responders during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been expanded to include the Arctic, and will help address numerous challenges in the Arctic posed by increasing ship traffic and proposed energy development

  • Earthquake risk looms large in the Pacific Northwest

    A comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast confirms that the region has had numerous earthquakes over the past 10,000 years, and suggests that the southern Oregon coast may be most vulnerable based on recurrence frequency

  • Men in maritime disasters save themselves first --“women and children first” is a myth

    Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of “women and children first” gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew members give priority to passengers; a new study find that the Titanic disaster, in which 70 percent of the women and children on board were saved compared to 20 percent of the men, is a glaring exception to the rule; during maritime disasters, men use their relative strength to save themselves; what is more, studies of human behavior during natural disasters show the same results: in life-and-death situations, it is every man for himself

  • Science group: storing spent nuclear fuel in dry casks significantly safer then wet pools storage

    An NRC report on the lessons of the Fukushima disaster says that storing spent nuclear fuel in wet pools is “adequate” to protect the public; a science groups says there is a significantly safer way to store the 55,000 tons of radioactive waste currently stored by the 104 nuclear power plants operating in the United States: transferring the spent fuel to dry casks

  • Chronic 2000-4 U.S. drought, worst in 800 years, may be the "new normal"

    The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century

  • Large, magnitude 8 earthquakes hit New Zealand with regularity

    A new study finds that very large earthquakes have been occurring relatively regularly on the Alpine Fault along the southwest coastline of New Zealand for at least 8,000 years

  • Studying the physics of avalanches

    Snow avalanches, a real threat in countries from Switzerland to Afghanistan, are fundamentally a physics problem: What are the physical laws that govern how they start, grow, and move, and can theoretical modeling help predict them? New study offers answers

  • Calculating the global health consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

    Radiation from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster may eventually cause approximately 130 deaths and 180 cases of cancer, mostly in Japan; researchers have calculated; the estimates have large uncertainty ranges, but contrast with previous claims that the radioactive release would likely cause no severe health effects

  • FDNY conducts live fire tests to test improvements in fire department tactics

    In the name of science, but with aim of saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing property losses, members of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) spent much of the first two weeks in July setting fire to twenty abandoned townhouses on Governors Island, about a kilometer from the southern tip of Manhattan

  • Small, local energy technologies to help sustain vital services during blackouts

    Researchers suggest that rethinking the solution to sustaining electric power — namely, starting small — could keep critical services going, even when the high-voltage grid is crippled; the U.S. military is already taking steps to protect its power supplies in the event of a massive grid failure by adopting small, local energy technologies, and California governor Jerry Brown recently announced that he wants 12,000 megawatts of such power supplies in his state

  • Explaining 2011 extreme weather events

    2011 will be remembered as a year of extreme weather events, both in the United States and around the world; NOAA says that every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment; a comprehensive annual report – State of the Climate in 2011 — provides scientists and citizens with an analysis of what has happened so organizations and individuals can prepare for what is to come

  • Changing climate to lead to fewer, but more violent, thunderstorms

    Researcher predict that for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 percent increase in lightning activity; this could have negative consequences in the form of flash floods, wild fires, or damage to power lines and other infrastructure

  • Just-the-facts climate change Web site wins World Bank award

    The World Bank award a prize to a Web site built to be the antidote to the many myths circulating online about climate change, myths which cause misplaced apathy or alarm; the site also reveals how responding to climate change presents a world of opportunities for individuals and entrepreneurs

  • Fukushima disaster “a profoundly man-made disaster”: investigative commission

    The commission investigating the Fukushima disaster of March 2011 concluded that although the combination of the tsunami and earthquake was unprecedented in its ferocity, the disaster was largely man-made because it was amplified by what came before it and what followed it; the disaster itself, the commission said, was sandwiched by practices and conduct which were the result of government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture; the government, nuclear regulators, and Tepco, the plant operator, “betrayed the nation’s right to safety from nuclear accidents”

  • Feds give Colorado access to critical infrastructure info

    The Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) compiles about 500 layers of geographic features, including power plants and water pumps; it is managed by DHS, the Pentagon’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and the U.S. Geological Survey; the data set is available to state first responders only when federal disasters are declared; DHS has now given Colorado access to the HSIP