• Waterfront Development Added Billions to Property Values Exposed to Hurricane Florence

    Rapid development in flood-prone zones during recent decades helped boost the amount of property exposed to 2018’s devastating Hurricane Florence substantially, a new study says. It estimates that the value of property in North Carolina and South Carolina potentially exposed to flooding at $52 billion—$42 billion more than at the start of the century (in 2018 dollars). While much development took place between 1950 and 2000, financial risk rose quickly afterward because much of it clustered along coastlines and adjacent to rivers and lakes, where buildings were more vulnerable to flooding.

  • Conflict, Disasters Trigger Record Number of Internally Displaced

    A new report finds a record 50.8 million people globally are displaced within their own countries due to conflict, violence and natural disasters.  The report, published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council, says an estimated 33.4 million people were newly displaced in 2019, the highest annual figure since 2012. 

  • Coronavirus: Governments Knew a Pandemic Was a Threat – Here’s Why They Weren’t Better Prepared

    Most people think or at least hope their government is doing a good job in the face of COVID-19, according to the polls. But there can be no doubt that governments around the world were ill-prepared for this pandemic. How is it possible that we were not ready? Not only had Bill Gates been banging on about this for a long time, but pandemics also featured strongly on regional and national risk registers produced by governments and bureaucrats, as well as international registers from non-governmental organizations. Despite all the effort that has gone into developing these tools, governments around the world have been bad at acting on their warnings about a pandemic. We see at least six possible reasons for this.

  • Human-Caused Warming Cause More Slow-Moving Hurricanes

    Hurricanes moving slowly over an area can cause more damage than faster-moving storms, because the longer a storm lingers, the more time it has to pound an area with storm winds and drop huge volumes of rain, leading to flooding. The extraordinary damage caused by storms like Dorian (2019), Florence (2018) and Harvey (2017) prompted researchers to wonder whether global climate change will make these slow-moving storms more common.

  • New Flood Damage Framework to Help Planners Prepare for Sea-Level Rise

    Scientists agree that sea levels will continue to rise this century, but projections beyond 2050 are much more uncertain regarding exactly how much higher ocean levels will be by 2100. While actions to protect against 2050 sea-level rise have a secure scientific basis, this range in late-century estimates makes it difficult for coastal communities to plan their long-term adaptation strategies.

  • COVID-19 Disruptions: Understanding Food Security Implications

    According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the world’s food systems and disrupting regional agricultural trade and value chains. The FAO has warned that food shortages are a real risk in the coming months. This global health crisis will test our food and trade systems in ways never experienced before.

  • Improving Accuracy of Storm Surge Analysis

    Accurately predicting how many people are at risk due to sea level rise and storm surges has always challenged scientists, but a new method is improving models that account for the impact of these natural occurrences. A new model developed by international team of scientists can be used to better understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

  • We Simulated How a Modern Dust Bowl Would Impact Global Food Supplies and the Result Is Devastating

    When the southern Great Plains of the United States were blighted with a series of droughts in the 1930s, it had an unparalleled impact on the whole country. Combined with decades of ill-advised farming policy, the result was the Dust Bowl. Massive dust storms began in 1931 and devastated the country’s major cereal producing areas. But what consequences would a disruption like the Dust Bowl have now, when the Great Plains of the U.S. are not just the breadbasket of America, but a major producer of staple cereals that are exported around the world?

  • Extreme Coastal Flooding in the U.S. Expected to Rise

    Extreme flooding events in some U.S. coastal areas could double every five years if sea levels continue to rise as expected, a new study says. Today’s “once-in-a-lifetime” extreme water levels — which are currently reached once every fifty years — may be exceeded daily along most of the U.S. coastline. Associated coastal hazards, such as beach and cliff erosion, will likely accelerate in concert with the increased risk of flooding, suggest the authors.

  • Climate-Driven Megadrought Is Emerging in Western U.S.: Study

    With the western United States and northern Mexico suffering an ever-lengthening string of dry years starting in 2000, scientists have been warning for some time that climate change may be pushing the region toward an extreme long-term drought worse than any in recorded history. A new study says the time has arrived: a megadrought as bad or worse than anything even from known prehistory is very likely in progress, and warming climate is playing a key role.

  • Understanding the Hidden Impact of Disasters

    The September 2017 Hurricane Maria killed people, demolished homes, and destroyed infrastructure. But Maria also damaged the manufacturing plants of a major IV bag maker, plunging hospitals into supply shortage that didn’t ripple across the mainland United States until six months after the hurricane made landfall. Given the highly integrated nature of supply chains in the U.S., natural and man-made disasters can have unanticipated consequences that are every bit as serious as the immediate damage of the event itself.

  • Coronavirus Shows We Are Not at All Prepared for the Security threat of climate change

    How might a single threat, even one deemed unlikely, spiral into an evolving global crisis which challenges the foundations of global security, economic stability and democratic governance, all in the matter of a few weeks? My research on threats to national security, governance and geopolitics has focused on exactly this question, albeit with a focus on the disruptive potential of climate change, rather than a novel coronavirus. At this stage in the COVID-19 situation, there are three primary lessons for a climate-changing future: the immense challenge of global coordination during a crisis, the potential for authoritarian emergency responses, and the spiraling danger of compounding shocks.

  • Tools to Help Volunteers Do the Most Good after a Disaster

    In the wake of a disaster, many people want to help. Researchers have developed tools to help emergency response and relief managers coordinate volunteer efforts in order to do the most good. The researchers used advanced computational models to address these areas of uncertainty in order to develop guidelines, or rules of thumb, that emergency relief managers can use to help volunteers make the biggest difference.

  • Social Media Has Positive Possibilities in Pandemic

    Social media has the power to both inform and deceive – and do both at speeds we have never experienced. That fact has, once again, been on display as the COVID-19 epidemic has dominated social media platforms for weeks.

  • Spreading Dangerous News spreads: Why Twitter Users Retweet Risk-Related Information

    In an Internet-driven world, social media has become the go-to source of all kinds of information. This is especially relevant in crisis-like situations, when warnings and risk-related information are actively circulated on social media. But currently, there is no way of determining the accuracy of the information. This has resulted in the spread of misinformation.