• A new map of seismic hazards in Brazil shows that new building code is required

    Researchers are working on a new national map of seismic hazards for Brazil. The survey under way seeks to help ensure earthquake-resistant construction becomes more widespread. Brazil’s seismic-resistant building standard, in force since 2006, was based on an outdated seismic hazard map, and the scientists conducting the new survey say that the Brazilian building code must be updated in order to prevent low-intensity tremors from causing damage.

  • Emergency communications in developing countries

    When major emergencies strike, effective communication is critical. Hundreds, if not thousands, of lives can be saved by rapid, clear and well-coordinated communication regarding impending risks, their mitigation, and how to respond when damage is done. Researchers have created a best-practice toolkit to help developing countries rapidly generate and implement life-saving communication plans in the event of local emergencies.

  • Climate change shifts timing of floods in Europe

    Researchers have identified a link between climate change and floods. A comprehensive study collected and analyzed fifty years of data from over 4,000 hydrometric stations from thirty-eight European countries, finding that the timing of the floods has shifted across much of Europe, dramatically in some areas.

  • Priorities for property buyouts in Florida’s flood-prone areas

    Flooding is the most common and damaging of all natural disasters in the United States. In 2016, 44 of the 46 major disaster declarations were related to storms, with flooding being a significant factor in almost 70 percent of them (30 events). In 2016, severe floods in the United States resulted in more than $17 billion in damages (six times higher than in 2015). Twelve individual weather and climate events caused more than $1 billion in damages each, and at least five severe 1,000-year precipitation events occurred in the United States in 2016. A new study proposes that government-funded buyouts, followed by structure demolition or relocation and the restoration of floodplain habitats, can support social, environmental, and economic objectives simultaneously.

  • Explaining rapid sea level rise along the East Coast

    Sea level rise hot spots — bursts of accelerated sea rise that last three to five years — happen along the U.S. East Coast thanks to a one-two punch from naturally occurring climate variations, according to a new study. The study shows that seas rose in the southeastern U.S. between 2011 and 2015 by more than six times the global average sea level rise that is already happening due to human-induced global warming.

  • Sea-level rise accelerating along U.S. East Coast

    Sea level rise on the East Coast has been much less than 1 millimeter (mm) per year for the entire period 0 AD to 1800 AD, and, since then, it has skyrocketed. In fact, the rate of sea level rise on the East Coast is the highest it has been for at least 2,000 years, and the rate of global sea level rise is above 1.7 mm per year. In New York City, the rate of sea level rise is more than 3 mm per year in an area that currently houses more than $25 billion of infrastructure at less than 1 meter above sea level.

  • Biomedical research community should build resilience to disasters

    The academic biomedical research community should improve its ability to mitigate and recover from the impacts of disasters, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences. The consequences of recent disasters, from hurricanes to cyberattacks, have shown that the investments of the U.S. federal government and other research sponsors — which total about $27 billion annually — are not uniformly secure. “Continuing scientific advancement and the promise of future discoveries will require a commitment to resilience — and an unparalleled partnership across the emergency management and academic research sectors,” says one of the report’s authors.

  • Hospital admissions for older adults continue to increase for weeks after natural disaster

    Older adults may still be checking into hospitals for weeks after a natural disaster, past the expected three days of anticipated injuries and health issues, a new research shows. The study found that in the thirty days after a rash of tornadoes swept through the U.S. Southeast and Midwest in 2011, hospital admissions for adults 65 and older rose an average of 4 percent in the swatch of affected zip codes in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee.

  • Human-induced and natural earthquakes in central U.S. are “inherently similar”

    Between 1980 and 2000, Oklahoma averaged about two earthquakes greater than or equal to magnitude 2.7 per year. That number jumped to about 2,500 in 2014 and 4,000 in 2015, then dropped to 2,500 in 2016. On Sept. 3, 2016, a magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck Oklahoma, the state’s largest earthquake to date. According to USGS, many earthquakes in Oklahoma and other parts of the central U.S. have been triggered by wastewater fluid injection associated with oil and gas operations.

  • Farming practices require dramatic changes to keep pace with climate change

    Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change. To combat repeated, damaging storm events, which strip agricultural land of soil and nutrients, farmers are already adopting measures to conserve these assets where they are needed. Researchers investigating nutrients in runoff from agricultural land warn that phosphorus losses will increase, due to climate change, unless this is mitigated by making major changes to agricultural practices.

  • Benefits of dikes -- reducing flooding -- outweigh costs

    In the first study of its kind, an international team of scientists has concluded, on a global scale, that the economic and long-term benefits of building dikes to reduce flood damage far outweigh their initial cost. They found that in many parts of the world, it is even possible to reduce the economic damage from river floods in the future to below today’s levels, even when climate change, growing populations, and urbanization are taken into account.

  • "Hindcasting": Investigates the extreme 2013 Colorado flood

    In September 2013, severe storms struck Colorado with prolonged, heavy rainfall, resulting in at least nine deaths, 1,800 evacuations and 900 homes destroyed or damaged. The eight-day storm dumped more than 17 inches of rain, causing the Platte River to reach flood levels higher than ever recorded. Researchers report that climate change attributed to human activity made the storm much more severe than would otherwise have occurred.

  • NASA to use asteroid flyby to test planetary defense network

    For the first time, NASA will use an actual space rock for an observational campaign to test NASA’s network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defense. The asteroid, named 2012 TC4, does not pose a threat to the Earth, but NASA is using it as a test object for an observational campaign because of its close flyby on 12 October 2017.

  • Troubled flood insurance program traps homeowners in flood-prone areas

    The U.S. flood insurance program has repeatedly rebuilt some of the most flood-prone properties in the country, unintentionally setting a trap for owners of modest homes who would prefer to move out of harm’s way, according to a new national report. Today it is thousands of properties, but climate change and rising sea levels threaten to flood millions of properties in the coming decades. For every $100 the nation spends to rebuild homes with national flood insurance funds, FEMA spends just $1.72 to better protect people by moving them to safer, less flood-prone land.

  • Shifting storms threaten once placid areas with extreme waves, extensive damage

    The world’s most extensive study of the impacts of coastal storm fronts in a changing climate has found that rising seas are no longer the only threat. The study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognized danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before.