Natural disasters

  • Post-Sandy insurance rates increase may make coastal living unaffordable

    Residents of New York and New Jersey are still coping with the destruction Hurricane Sandy caused, but home and business owners alike will soon face another burden: rising insurance rates and new building codes and requirements that could threaten many that live and work in the coastal areas of the two states

  • Lloyd’s says countries are under insured against natural disasters

    Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance company, has warned seventeen countries that a $165 billion global insurance deficit leaves them vulnerable to long-term natural disaster costs; Lloyds says the world may not be able to afford another year like 2011, when natural disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the floods in Thailand caused $4.6 trillion dollars of damage to infrastructure, homes, and businesses, and which resulted in the largest disaster claims ever

  • The debate over radon as an earthquake predictor continues

    Scientists have been interested in using radon emissions to predict earthquakes since the 1980s, but no solid evidence ever came to support it and the idea was abandoned by most in the field during the 1990s; now, scientists are looking again at radon as an earthquake predictor

  • Hard choices to be made on adapting infrastructure to climate change

    The costs of adapting to climate change, sea-level, and flooding include the upfront expenses of upgrading infrastructure, installing early-warning systems, and effective organizations, as well as the costs of reducing risk, such as not building on flood plains

  • Scientists identify a human-caused climate change signal in the noise

    By comparing simulations from twenty different computer models to satellite observations, Lawrence Livermore climate scientists and colleagues from sixteen other organizations have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities; “No known mode of natural climate variability can cause sustained, global-scale warming of the troposphere and cooling of the lower stratosphere,” says Livernore atmospheric scientist Benjamin Santer

  • Innovative method to capture CO2

    The carbonate-looping method for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) could reduce power-plant CO2 emissions by more than 90 percent, while utilizing less energy and incurring less expense than former approaches

  • Sea-levels rising faster than IPCC projections

    Sea-levels are rising 60 percent faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) central projections, new research suggests; the study involved an analysis of global temperatures and sea-level data over the past two decades, comparing them both to projections made in the IPCC’s third and fourth assessment reports

  • Tents provide disaster victims with shelter – and a measure of privacy

    A charity called ShelterBox gives out tents and other essential equipment to victims of war and natural disasters around the world; the lightweight tents the charity provides can withstand winds of up to sixty-two miles per hour; the charity also provides thermal blankets, stoves, pans, utensils, tool-kits, and even crayons for children

  • “Intra-seasonal” variability in sea-level change

    The effects of storm surge and sea-level rise have become topics of everyday conversation in the days and weeks following Hurricane Sandy’s catastrophic landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast; new research is throwing light on another, less-familiar component of sea-level variability — the “intra-seasonal” changes that occupy the middle ground between rapid, storm-related surges in sea level and the long-term increase in sea level due to global climate change

  • American West's changing climate means economic changes, too

    The State of the West Symposium, hosted by the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, featured a discussion of the Western United States’ future of extreme heat, declining snowpack, and what it all means for the region’s industry, electricity generation, and policy

  • Technology to help weather bushfires, floods and more

    Natural disasters have increased in severity and frequency in recent years; in 2010, 385 natural disasters affected 217 million people worldwide at a cost to the global economy of $123.9 billion; there is an on-going research into digital technologies and services for disaster planning, preparation, rescue, and recovery; these technologies can help emergency services better manage natural disasters and minimize their effects on people, infrastructure, and the environment

  • Blame, responsibility, and demand for change following floods

    New research shows concerns about governmental failure to act effectively and fairly in the aftermath of extreme weather events can affect the degree to which residents are willing to protect themselves; the findings could prove key to establishing how society should evolve to cope with more turbulent weather and more frequent mega storms

  • World’s great rivers running on empty

    Four of the world’s great rivers are all suffering from drastically reduced flows as a direct result of water extraction, according to new research; the researchers found that in all four river basins, over a long period of time, outflows have greatly reduced as a direct result of increased water extractions, and that urgent changes in governance of water are needed to ensure the systems remain healthy and viable

  • Tetrapod robot developed for investigative, recovery work inside post-accident nuclear plants

    Toshiba has developed a tetrapod robot able to carry out investigative and recovery work in locations which are too risky for people to enter; the multiple joints of its legs are controlled by a dedicated movement algorithm which enables the robot to walk on uneven surfaces, avoid obstacles, and climb stairs, securing access into areas which are challenging to be reached by wheeled robots or crawlers

  • Student invents a wireless vibration sensor which harvests energy from earthquakes

    A wireless vibration sensor being developed by an engineering student could provide a low-cost solution for engineers to monitor the damage of buildings affected by earthquakes; currently, no sensor exists in the marketplace which does not rely on batteries or electricity supply to run