• Owners of unprotected coastal homes don’t rush to retrofit

    Many coastal homes have significant structural vulnerabilities that leave homeowners and their homes largely unprotected from storms. Additionally, the majority of coastal homeowners have little to no intention of reducing these structural vulnerabilities, even though they live in areas frequently affected by damaging hurricanes and flooding.

  • Driving force of volcanic super-hazards uncovered

    Volcanologists have discovered the driving force behind superheated gas-and-ash clouds from volcanic eruptions, which may help save lives and infrastructure around the globe. Endangering 500 million people worldwide, pyroclastic density currents (or pyroclastic flows) are the most common and lethal volcanic threat, causing 50 percent of fatalities caused  by volcanic activity.

  • A how-to guide for climate-proof cities

    Traditionally, Maurepas Swamp serves as a natural barrier against flooding that threatens New Orleans each year. Native flora soaks up the rainfall, spreading it across a network of cypress roots and cattail. But centuries of logging and canal construction have drastically altered the swamp’s ecological composition. The Mississippi levee system compounded the issue, isolating the swamp from vital sources of fresh water and nutrients. Flooded with saltwater, much of the existing cypress withered and died. Young trees, now, are few and scattered.

  • Melting glaciers causing sea levels to rise at ever faster pace

    Melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic as well as ice melt from glaciers all over the world are causing sea levels to rise. Glaciers alone lost more than 9,000 billion tons of ice since 1961, raising water levels by 27 millimeters.

  • Current earthquake hiatus in California is an unlikely pause

    There have been no major ground rupturing earthquakes along California’s three highest slip rate faults in the past 100 years. A new study concludes that this current “hiatus” has no precedent in the past 1000 years.

  • Crowdsourcing speeds up monitoring of earthquake

    Data produced by Internet users can help to speed up the detection of earthquakes. Fast and accurate information is essential in the case of earthquakes: Epicenter location, depth and magnitude are minimum requirements to reliably estimate their possibly catastrophic consequences.

  • Climate-smart national flood insurance program

    Last month the Midwest faced historic floods that devastated rural communities, drowned farms, contaminated water supplies, and resulted in billions of dollars in damages. As climate change exacerbates the risk of these catastrophic flooding events, Congress can help citizens take these actions to adapt to the risks of climate change by adopting a package of climate-smart reforms for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

  • Increasing household preparedness for disaster

    Face-to-face workshops based on the psychology of behavior change and disaster preparedness can be used to prompt households to take action to protect themselves against disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods.

  • For a flooded Midwest, climate forecasts offer little comfort

    Floods are triggered by extreme rainfall events, often combined with ground conditions, such as saturated or frozen ground, that make it harder for water to percolate down into soil, which increases runoff. Global warming has the potential to intensify the Earth’s water cycle, which will alter the quantity, frequency, intensity and duration of rain and snowfall. As my research and work by others has shown, all of these changes raise the risk of floods for Midwest states.

  • In disasters, Twitter users with large networks get out-tweeted

    New study shows that when it comes to sharing emergency information during natural disasters, timing is everything. The study on Twitter use during hurricanes, floods and tornadoes offers potentially life-saving data about how information is disseminated in emergency situations, and by whom. Unlikely heroes often emerge in disasters, and the same is true on social media.

  • California hospitals to pay billions for seismic safety upgrades

    California hospitals would need to make substantial investments—between $34 billion and $143 billion statewide—to meet 2030 state seismic safety standards, according to a new report.

  • Few pathways to an acceptable climate future without immediate action: Study

    A new comprehensive study of climate change has painted over 5 million pictures of humanity’s potential future, and few foretell an Earth that has not severely warmed. But with immediate action and some luck, there are pathways to a tolerable climate future, scientists say.

  • Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May

    Nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook issued today. The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk.

  • Rapidly melting tall ice-cliffs may trigger faster sea-level rise

    Glaciers that drain ice sheets such as Antarctica or Greenland often flow into the ocean, ending in near-vertical cliffs. As the glacier flows into the sea, chunks of the ice break off in calving events. Although much calving occurs when the ocean melts the front of the ice, and ice cliff above falls down, a new study presents another method of calving: slumping. And this process could break off much larger chunks of ice at a quicker rate.

  • Measuring progress toward resilience more effectively

    A new report from the National Academies of Sciences recommends steps U.S. communities can take to better measure their progress in building resilience to disasters, including measuring resilience around multiple dimensions of a community, and incentivizing the measurement of resilience. The report also recommends that the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program develop a major, coordinated initiative around building or enhancing community resilience across the Gulf of Mexico region.