• Planet at risk of heading towards “Hothouse Earth” state

    An international team of scientists has published a study showing that keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed, and that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says.

  • Death toll from Hurricane Maria larger than previously thought

    The number of people who died as a result of Hurricane Maria — which hit Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017 — may be as high as 1,139, surpassing the official death count of 64, according to researchers. The researchers used official government records to calculate the number, which took into account not just those who died from the immediate effects of the hurricane, but also from secondary effects in the following months.

  • Hurricane Maria’s death toll: 2975, not 64

    Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017 and, soon after, the government of Puerto Rico determined that 64 people had died. Later, unofficial investigations and independent scientific studies suggested that the death toll was likely much higher. A comprehensive new study estimated there were 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico stemming from the hurricane from September 2017 through February 2018. The study also offers next steps to protect the most vulnerable communities.

  • Fecal bacteria contaminated surface water after Hurricane Harvey

    Hurricane Harvey was an unprecedented rain event that delivered five consistent days of flooding and storms to Texas last August. Now, researchers have substantiated that the storm caused high levels of fecal contamination to be introduced into waterways draining into the Gulf of Mexico and impairing surface water quality.

  • Solar flares disrupted radio communications during 2017 hurricane relief effort

    An unlucky coincidence of space and Earth weather in early September 2017 caused radio blackouts for hours during critical hurricane emergency response efforts, according to a new study. The new research, which details how the events on the Sun and Earth unfolded side-by-side, could aid in the development of space weather forecasting and response.

  • Microsatellites help in flood detection

    Hurricanes bring heavy rainfall and strong winds to coastal communities, a potent combination that can lead to devastating damage. In 2016 NASA launched a set of eight satellites called the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, mission to gather more data on the winds in these tropical cyclones as part of an effort to increase data coverage of hurricanes and aid forecasts. As the first year of data is being evaluated, a new and unexpected capability has emerged: the ability to see through clouds and rain to flooded landscapes.

  • How climate change will alter our food

    The world population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. With 3.4 billion more mouths to feed, and the growing desire of the middle class for meat and dairy in developing countries, global demand for food could increase by between 59 and 98 percent. This means that agriculture around the world needs to step up production and increase yields. But scientists say that the impacts of climate change—higher temperatures, extreme weather, drought, increasing levels of carbon dioxide, and sea level rise—threaten to decrease the quantity and jeopardize the quality of our food supplies.

  • New model predicts landslides caused by earthquakes

    Landslides are the third-largest contributor to earthquake deaths, after building collapse and tsunamis. From 2004 to 2010, earthquake-induced landslides caused an estimated 47,000 deaths. Researchers have developed a model which can help experts address such risks by estimating the likelihood of landslides that will be caused by earthquakes anywhere in the world.

  • Celestial hazards: Twenty years of planetary defense

    NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies was established in 1998 to fulfill a 1998 Congressional request to detect and catalogue at least 90 percent of all NEOs larger than one kilometer in size (roughly two-thirds of a mile) within 10 years. In 2005, Congress established a new, much more ambitious goal for the NEO Observations Program — to discover 90 percent of the NEOs down to the much smaller size of 450 feet (140 meters), and to do so by the year 2020. There are now over 18,000 known NEOs and the discovery rate averages about 40 per week.

  • Improving disaster response through Twitter data

    Twitter data could give disaster relief teams real-time information to provide aid and save lives, thanks to a new algorithm developed by an international team of researchers. “The best source to get timely information during a disaster is social media, particularly microblogs like Twitter,” said one researcher. “Newspapers have yet to print and blogs have yet to publish, so Twitter allows for a near real-time view of an event from those impacted by it.”

  • How your social network could save you from a natural disaster

    Many communities that are vulnerable to natural disasters put a lot of resources into providing residents with early warnings. Traditionally, much emphasis has been placed on the role of physical infrastructure preparedness during crisis. But in light of findings from our research about the importance of social capital during crises, our team wanted to better illuminate human behavior during these events.

  • All wildfires are not alike, but the U.S. is fighting them that way

    Every major fire rekindles another round of commentaries about “America’s wildfire problem.” But the fact is that our nation does not have a fire problem. It has many fire problems, and they require different strategies. Some problem fires have technical solutions, some demand cultural calls. All are political.

  • Rising sea levels could cost the world $14 trillion a year by 2100

    Failure to meet the United Nations’ 2ºC warming limits will lead to sea level rise and dire global economic consequences, new research has warned. The study calculated that flooding from rising sea levels could cost $14 trillion worldwide annually by 2100, if the target of holding global temperatures below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels is missed.

  • June 2018 ranks third warmest on record for U.S.

    Hot temperatures continued to bake the United States last month, making it the third warmest June on record. We are halfway through 2018 and the United States has already experienced $6-billion-dollar weather disasters.

  • Beaver-inspired robot navigates rough terrain

    A beaver-inspired robot uses new self-learning algorithms to navigate an obstacle-rich terrain —randomly placed rocks, bricks, and broken bits of concrete — which simulates an environment after a disaster such as a tornado or earthquake.