• Train Derailments Get More Headlines, but Truck Crashes Involving Hazardous Chemicals Are More Frequent and Deadly in U.S.

    Highway crash of hazmat-carrying trucks do not draw national attention the way train derailments do, or trigger a flood of calls for more trucking regulation like the U.S. is seeing for train regulation. Truck crashes tend to be local and less dramatic than a pile of derailed train cars on fire, even if they’re deadlier. Federal data shows that rail has had far fewer incidents, deaths and damage when moving hazardous materials in the U.S. than trucks.

  • Breakthrough Alert Messaging for a Mobile Public

    It is in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) that the danger and damage from the growing risk of wildfires is most prevalent. Of paramount importance is alerting people in the path of fires and enabling their safe evacuation from the area.

  • Homes in Flood Zones Are Overvalued by Billions: Study

    Flooding is a costly and deadly natural hazard across the United States, and climate change will only make floods more frequent and more destructive. Failure to account for climate change means low-income homeowners could see their home values plunge.

  • Earthquake in Turkey Exposes Gap Between Seismic Knowledge and Action – but It Is Possible to Prepare

    The final death toll is likely to place the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria among the worst natural disaster. The sobering question to us, as disaster mitigation scholars, is whether this enormous loss of lives, homes and livelihoods could have been avoided. There is no way to prevent an earthquake from occurring, but what can be prevented – or at least curtailed – is the scale of the calamity caused by these inevitable tremors.

  • Mitigating the Impact of Extreme Weather and Climate Uncertainty on Reservoirs

    Abrupt weather extremes, changing climate and frequent natural hazards such as floods and droughts create challenges for our nation’s aging reservoir systems. Researchers are working to help mitigate these problems.

  • More Places to Experience Floods as Extreme Weather Events Become More Frequent and Intensify

    As extreme weather events become more frequent and intensify, the number of people and places exposed to flooding events is likely to grow. But until now, surprisingly little was known about how floodplain development patterns vary across communities.

  • Floods, Rising Sea Levels Push Planned Internal Migration

    Climate change could force billions to move by the end of the century, displaced by floods and rising sea levels. Some communities are already adapting through managed retreat and moving people to other areas.

  • The Last of Us: Why We Should All Think Like Preppers – and How to Do It

    “Prepping” – as it is widely known – is a way of anticipating and adapting to impending conditions of calamity by preparing homes, rooms and bunkers to survive in. Despite attempts by preppers to push back on stereotypes, prepping does still come with associations of doomsday and apocalyptic thinking. If done in the right way, however, prepping – thinking ahead and being proactive – is the opposite of panic, irrationality, or conspiratorial tendencies.

  • Few Island Nations with Potential to Produce Enough Food in a Nuclear Winter

    New Zealand is one of only a few island nations that could continue to produce enough food to feed its population in a nuclear winter, researchers have found. The term “nuclear winter” refers to reduced sunlight and cooler temperatures caused by soot in the atmosphere following a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Earthquake Footage Shows Turkey’s Buildings Collapsing Like Pancakes. An Expert Explains Why

    Many of the collapsed buildings appear to have been built from concrete without adequate seismic reinforcement. Seismic building codes in this region suggest these buildings should be able to sustain strong earthquakes (where the ground accelerates by 30% to 40% of the normal gravity) without incurring this type of complete failure. The 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes appear to have caused shaking in the range of 20 to 50% of gravity. A proportion of these buildings thus failed at shaking intensities lower than the “design code.”

  • Gauging Losses and Lessons in Turkey's Unfolding Earthquake Calamity

    As earthquake engineers stress, most of the time, buildings kill people, not the shaking itself. Many of the buildings destroyed in the quake had “soft floors” – ground-level retail spaces with very little reinforcement supporting far heavier residential floors above; buildings where, for tax purposes, higher floors jutted out beyond the dimensions of the ground floor; or homes where floors were added as families expanded. Engineers call such structures “rubble in waiting.”

  • Supporting Dams with Innovative Materials

    There are about 91,000 dams in the United States. About half the dams built in the past century and a half are starting to show their age, with resulting wear and tear. Severe weather events, extreme temperatures, erosion and rising water levels are all straining the infrastructure and exacerbating the impacts of deterioration and aging processes. In many cases, simply replacing the dams and levees is not a viable option due to high costs.

  • Climate Change-Driven Water Crises More Severe Than Previously Thought

    The interference of climate change with the planet’s water cycle is a well established fact. New analyses suggest that in many places, runoff responds more sensitively than previously assumed.

  • Western Wildfires Destroyed 246% More Homes and Buildings Over the Past Decade

    It can be tempting to think that the recent wildfire disasters in communities across the West were unlucky, one-off events, but evidence is accumulating that points to a trend. In nearly every Western state, more homes and buildings were destroyed by wildfire over the past decade than the decade before, revealing increasing vulnerability to wildfire disasters.

  • There’s a Deal to Save the Colorado River — If California Doesn’t Blow It Up

    After months of tense negotiation, a half-dozen states have reached an agreement to drastically cut their water usage and stabilize the drought-stricken Colorado River — as long as California doesn’t blow up the deal. The plan would cut water use on the river by roughly a quarter, drying up farms and subdivisions across the Southwest.