Natural disasters

  • MIT expert: “toxic” political discussions limit climate response

    In a talk at the Sandia National Lab, an MIT expert says the inability of natural and social scientists to convince political leaders that “we’re spinning a roulette wheel over climate change” puts humanity at “extreme risk,” and that the difficulties in using science to push for mitigation strategies are more political than scientific

  • In China, corruption blamed for collapse of bridges

    Since 2011 eight bridges have collapsed in China, according to the state run media, including the Yangmingtan Bridge in the city of Harbin last November; the bridge was almost 10-mile long and construction was originally estimated to take three years, but workers finished it in half the time; when the bridge collapsed, the first thing on people’s mind was corruption

  • Earthquake hazards map contains deadly flaws

    Three of the largest and deadliest earthquakes in recent history occurred where earthquake hazard maps did not predict massive quakes; scientists recently studied the reasons for the maps’ failure to forecast these quakes, and explored ways to improve the maps

  • Trade-offs between water for food and for curbing climate change

    Earth’s growing human population needs fresh water for drinking and food production. Fresh water, however, is also needed for the growth of biomass, which acts as a sink of carbon dioxide and thus could help mitigate climate change. Does the Earth have enough freshwater resources to meet these competing demands?

  • As Hurricane Isaac beats on New Orleans, new infrastructure is holding up

    This week, as Hurricane Isaac was threatening to replicate the physical damage that Katrina inflicted, it has become apparent that $14 billion worth of changes and improvements in infrastructure, planning, and emergency response procedures have given the city of New Orleans and the Gulf states the ability to withstand the worst of the storm

  • Isaac leaves flooding, power outages in its path

    Hurricane Isaac lost its Category 1 hurricane status midday Wednesday and was downgraded to a tropical storm, but the severe rains and winds which it brought with it have not let up much; the number of power outages continues to increase as the number of homes and businesses without electricity is now up to 834,000 between Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas, with over one-third of the outages in Louisiana alone

  • Drones being used to track hurricanes

    Federal hurricane trackers will start experimenting with unmanned boats and aircrafts to learn more about how to anticipate and track the movements of hurricanes; NASAand the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) are teaming up and using a pair of military-surplus Global Hawk spy drones, which are known more for spying on battlefields than chasing storms

  • Underground organisms play a more complex role carbon capturing than previously thought

    In a surprising finding, researchers have shown that certain underground organisms thought to promote chemical interactions that make the soil a carbon sink actually play a more complex, dual role when atmospheric carbon levels rise

  • Evaluating fresh water sustainability in the southern U.S.

    Researchers have embarked on 4-year federal research effort to evaluate freshwater sustainability across the southern United States and develop policy recommendations on what can be done to make the best use of water supplies in the face of population growth and the effects of climate change over the next ten to thirty years

  • Hurricane Isaac downgraded from Category 1 hurricane to tropical storm

    Hurricane Isaac was downgraded from a category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm. The storms winds have dropped below 70 mph, but the storm is moving very slowly throughout the gulf area at about 6 mph; at this point officials estimate that Isaac is expected to cause $1.5 billion in insured losses

  • New Jersey infrastructure badly needs shoring up, and soon

    According to experts, changes to the way New Jersey maintains its infrastructure must be made soon, or the state could be vulnerable to catastrophic failures in its water and power systems as well as collapsing roads; the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority says more than $56.9 billion will be needed just to maintain state roads, rails, and public transportation systems through 2035; when you add in improvements to account for environmental changes and the expanding population in the state, the bill skyrockets to more than $123 billion

  • New filter will help clean oil spills

    Oil and water disdain each other, but once forced to comingle they are nearly impossible to separate; a new filter separates oil and water using only gravity; the filter could help clean oil spills, or clean water at treatment plants

  • Japan awards tsunami buoy contract to SAIC

    The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) in Tokyo, Japan, has awarded (SAIC) a contract for the production and delivery of six SAIC Tsunami Buoy (STB) systems; the STB systems will be deployed at locations in the northwest Pacific Ocean approximately 200 nautical miles east of Sendai, Japan

  • Heat waves move toward California coasts, become more humid, imperiling health

    Scientists detected a trend toward more humid heat waves which are expressed very strongly in elevated nighttime temperatures, a trend consistent with climate change projections; moreover, relative to local warming, the mid-summer heat waves are getting stronger in generally cooler coastal areas; this carries strong public health implications for the twenty-one million Californians living near the ocean whose everyday lives are acclimated to moderate temperatures

  • Last year’s east coast earthquake has the region preparing for another one

    Last year an earthquake that was centered in Virginia shook up the entire east coast, surprising everyone; it did not result in any deaths and was considered relatively light compared to many tremors on the West Coast, but it was bad enough to force some states to prepare themselves in case of another quake