• January 2020 was Earth’s Hottest January on Record

    The long-term trend of above-average temperatures continues: In the span of 141 years of climate records, there has never been a warmer January than last month, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. What is more, the temperature departure from average was the highest monthly departure ever recorded without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

  • Coastal Risks, Land Use Policy in the Face of Sea Level Rise

    An Oregon land use policy creates a large economic value for some private homeowners who are allowed to protect their shoreline against erosion, according to a new study. The study highlights the tradeoff between a homeowner’s ability to protect their private property and public access to Oregon’s beaches. The study comes at a time when the future of coastal management in Oregon is up for discussion given the threats of sea-level rise due to climate change.

  • Framing the Climate Crisis as a Terrorism Issue Could Galvanize Action

    In many vulnerable regions of the world, the climate crisis has exacerbated loss of farmable land and increased water scarcity, fueling rural-urban migration, civil unrest, and violence. As a result, worsening geopolitical instability has aided the rise of terrorism and violence in the Middle East, Guatemala, and the Lake Chad Basin of Africa. Yet when people hear the words, “global warming,” they typically don’t think of terrorism. If they did, politicians would be far more likely to undertake drastic action to address the climate crisis.

  • Adapting to Climate Change: Policymakers Are Thinking Too Small

    When it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists and policymakers are thinking too small, according to a new research review. The authors argue that society should focus less on how individuals respond to such climate issues as flooding and wildfires and instead figure out what it takes to inspire collective action that will protect humans from climate catastrophes on a much grander scale.

  • More Rain and Less Snow Means Increased Flood Risk

    By analyzing more than two decades of data in the western U.S., scientists have shown that flood sizes increase exponentially as a higher fraction of precipitation falls as rain, offering insight into how flood risks may change in a warming world with less snow.

  • Building a Flood-Resilient Future

    Seven of the U.K. ten wettest years on record have occurred since 1998. Its wettest winter in history came in 2013, and the next wettest in 2015. In a single week in November 2019, 400 homes were flooded and 1,200 properties evacuated in northern England. The frequency and severity of these events is expected to increase as a result of climate change, meaning that many more communities will suffer their devastating effects. A new book shows how we can adapt the built and natural environment to be more flood resilient in the face of climate change.

  • Extreme weather Conditions Tax Urban Drainage Systems to the Max

    During a typical Canadian winter, snow accumulation and melt—combined with sudden rainfalls—can lead to bottlenecks in storm drains that can cause flooding. Researchers have been examining urban stormwater drainage systems, and they too have concerns about the resilience of many urban drainage systems.

  • Modifying Hurricane Relief Strategies

    Alleviating suffering more effectively in the wake of hurricanes may require a shift in relief strategies. In the immediate aftermath, relief agencies rush in survival supplies like water, food, medicine, and blankets. But instead of prioritizing and maintaining the relief supply chains, a transition to restoring a place’s normal supply infrastructure could help more people more quickly.

  • Wildfires Increase Winter Snowpack — but That Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing

    Fires burns trees, and more burnt trees mean more snow into the system initially because of reduced trees that usually block and hold the snow temporarily on branches. This is a good outcome for north-facing slopes where the snowpack will hold in the shade, but If the snow falls on a south-facing, sun-exposed aspect with a deep snowpack and a rapid spring melt, there is a higher chance of erosion, loss of nutrients, and potential of flooding for downstream communities. “The larger and more severe the wildfire, the increased flood potential for valleys,” says an expert.

  • Warming Oceans Could Drive Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse, Sea Level Rise

    In the U.S., four out of ten people live in populous coastal areas, making them vulnerable to the effects of rising seas. Seventy percent of the world’s largest cities are located near a coast. Globally, by 2010, seas had already risen about 10 inches above their average levels in pre-industrial times. A new study suggests the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is less stable than researchers once thought, and that its collapse would accelerate sea level rise.

  • Building Standards Give Us False Hope. There's No Such Thing as a Fireproof House

    Bushfires have killed 33 people and destroyed nearly 3,000 houses across Australia so far this fire season. Canberra is under threat right now. It isn’t only houses. Significant commercial buildings have been destroyed, among them Kangaroo Island’s iconic Southern Ocean Lodge. In New South Wales alone, 140 schools have been hit. Many require extensive work. Trouble is, Australia’s National Construction Code provides false, and dangerous, hope. The sad truth is that any practical building that is exposed to an intense bushfire will probably burn down, whether it complies with Australia’s National Construction Code or not.

  • Across the U.S., States Are Bracing for More Climate-Related Disasters

    Officials in states across the United States are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts, and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change. Alex Brown writes that “Even states whose leaders don’t publicly acknowledge the existence of climate change, such as Texas and South Carolina, have applied for federal dollars citing ‘changing coastal conditions’ or ‘unpredictability’.”

  • Magnitude 7.7 Earthquake in the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and Cuba

    A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and Cuba on Tuesday. The earthquake prompted initial fears of a tsunami. Residents in multi-story building in Havana, Cuba, were advised to evacuate their buildings. In Jamaica, Belize, and Cayman Islands roads were cracked and sewage spilled from broken mains. No casualties were reported.

  • Preparing for the Big One: Oregon to Fund ShakeAlert

    With a vision for preparing the state for a large Cascadia earthquake, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced on Monday a resiliency agenda for the upcoming legislative session that would include $7.5 million in funding to the University of Oregon to build out the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system.

  • Reducing Risk, Empowering Resilience to Disruptive Global Change

    Five-hundred-year floods. Persistent droughts and heat waves. More devastating wildfires. As these and other planetary perils become more commonplace, they pose serious risks to natural, managed, and built environments around the world. Assessing the magnitude of these risks over multiple decades and identifying strategies to prepare for them at local, regional, and national scales will be essential to making societies and economies more resilient and sustainable. A workshop highlights how MIT research can guide adaptation at local, regional, and national scales.