• PerspectiveTrump Pushed Staff to Deal with NOAA Tweet that Contradicted His Inaccurate Alabama Hurricane Claim, Officials Say

    President Trump told his staff that the nation’s leading weather forecasting agency – the National Weather Service (NWS), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — needed to take back a statement NWS made on 1 September, correcting a tweet the president had sent wrongly claiming that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama. Trump’s demand was conveyed by White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (NOAA is part of the Commerce Department). Ross then threatened to fire the acting NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs unless NOAA issued a statement backing Trump’s false claim about Alabama, and admonishing the NWS’s scientists for correcting Trump’s wrong and misleading claim. Jacobs issued the statement Trump demanded in an unsigned press release on 6 September (NOAA chief scientist has now launched an investigation of Jacobs’s misleading press release, which was issued without consulting any scientists or meteorologists). Trump, talking with reporters on Wednesday, then falsely asserted that he did not direct NOAA to issue such a statement. “No, I never did that,” he said. “I never did that. It’s a hoax by the media. That’s just fake news.”

  • Perspective: Phone alertsBritain Plans Mass Mobile Phone Alerts to Protect Public from Terrorism, Major Floods and Nuclear Attack

    Britain is planning to introduce US-style mass mobile phone alerts to protect the public against terrorism, major floods and nuclear attack. Supporters of so-called ‘cell broadcasting’ claim the message alerts could have saved lives during major incidents including the London Bridge terrorist attack and Grenfell Tower fire. Senior figures have raised concerns, however, that the messages could be hijacked by hackers or malicious foreign powers to induce mass panic.

  • EarthquakesImproving ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast

    The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded more than $12.5 million to seven universities and a university-governed non-profit to support operation, improvement and expansion of the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States.

  • EarthquakesThe Big One: Back to the Future on the San Andreas Fault

    Maybe you’ve heard that the “Big One is overdue” on the San Andreas Fault. No one can predict earthquakes, so what does the science really say? Where does the information come from? And what does it mean? Earth scientists have been gathering data at key paleoseismic sites along sections of the San Andreas Fault to figure out the past timeline of earthquakes at each spot.

  • Seismic warningsPredicting the Strength of Earthquakes

    By Anna Fiorentino

    Scientists will be able to predict earthquake magnitudes earlier than ever before thanks to new research. “Our research, which is technically rather simple, provides answers relevant not only to earthquake dynamics, but to prediction of earthquake behavior before the earthquake ends,” said one of the researchers.

  • EarthquakesFaint Foreshocks Foretell California Earthquakes

    New research mining data from a catalog of more than 1.8 million southern California earthquakes found that nearly three-fourths of the time, foreshocks signaled a quake’s readiness to strike from days to weeks before the mainshock hit, a revelation that could advance earthquake forecasting.

  • False alarmsMissile Strike False Alarm Most Stressful for Less Anxious Hawaiians: Study

    After learning that a warning of a missile headed to Hawaii was a false alarm, the most anxious local Twitter users calmed down more quickly than less anxious users, according to a study of tweets before, during and after the event. “Can a false alarm of an impending disaster itself be a form of trauma? Our results suggest that the experience may have a lingering impact on some individuals well after the threat is dispelled,” says an expert.

  • Earthquake warningsMachine-learning Competition Improves Earthquake Prediction Capabilities

    Current scientific studies related to earthquake forecasting focus on three key points: when the event will occur, where it will occur, and how large it will be. The Kaggle competition, hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory, provided a challenging dataset that was based on previously published laboratory analysis, to give the competitors a taxing project to explore. Competitors’ success predicting quake timing in the online Kaggle competition could help save lives, infrastructure.

  • Perspective: Earthquake warningsQ&A: How Ridgecrest Earthquakes Helped Scientists with ShakeAlert

    U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Sarah Minson was in the thick of efforts to develop an earthquake warning system in California when a series of major temblors struck the sparsely populated community of Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert this summer. The largest, a magnitude 7.1 quake on July 5, was the biggest to hit the state in decades. The Mercury News asked her about her work — and how this month’s big quakes is helping scientists refine California’s fledgling earthquake alert system.

  • EarthquakesAmericans Focus on Responding to Earthquake Damage, Not Preventing It, Because They’re Unaware of Their Risk

    By Matt Motta

    On July 4 and 5, two major earthquakes, followed by several thousand smaller ones, struck Southern California. Their size and the damage they caused captured attention around the country. What tends to get much less notice from the public is what can be done to prevent catastrophic damage from big quakes.

  • National emergency alertsNational emergency alerts potentially vulnerable to spoofing

    On 3 October 2018, cell phones across the United States received a text message labeled “Presidential Alert.” It was the first trial run for a new national alert system, developed by several U.S. government agencies as a way to warn as many people across the United States as possible if a disaster was imminent. Now, a new study raises a red flag around these alerts—namely, that such emergency alerts authorized by the President of the United States can, theoretically, be spoofed.

  • EarthquakesTelling early moment that indicates a coming megaquake

    Just 10 seconds into a quake, GPS data can detect signs of acceleration that point to an event’s magnitude. Likewise, that moment — gleaned from GPS data on the peak rate of acceleration of ground displacement — can indicate a smaller event.

  • EarthquakesThe why, how, where, and what of earthquake early warning

    Earlier this year, Los Angeles became one of the first cities in the country to roll out ShakeAlert – a dedicated earthquake early warning system. Advanced warning of an earthquake has long been a goal for everyone from seismologists to local governments. Especially in cities like Los Angeles, located along the notorious San Andreas fault. But what about cities like Seattle?

  • Seismic early warningsSensing earthquakes in a new way to help improve early warning systems

    Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell the difference between life and death. Researchers demonstrate a new earthquake detection method — their technique exploits subtle telltale gravitational signals traveling ahead of the tremors. Future research could boost early warning systems.

  • EarthquakesCrowdsourcing speeds up monitoring of earthquake

    Data produced by Internet users can help to speed up the detection of earthquakes. Fast and accurate information is essential in the case of earthquakes: Epicenter location, depth and magnitude are minimum requirements to reliably estimate their possibly catastrophic consequences.