• ShakeAlert Earthquake Warnings Can Give People Time to Protect Themselves – But So Far, Few Have Actually Done So

    The ShakeAlert system is a remarkable technology, years in the making. It has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in areas where high-magnitude earthquakes occur by providing a few seconds’ warning – enough time for people to take basic safety precautions. Marvelous as it is, though, ShakeAlert saves lives only if people understand what to do when they receive such an alert – and do it.

  • Simulations Can Improve Avalanche Forecasting

    Currently, avalanche forecasts in Canada are made by experienced professionals who rely on data from local weather stations and on-the-ground observations from ski and backcountry ski operators, avalanche control workers for transportation and industry, and volunteers who manually test the snowpack. But simulated snow cover models developed by a team of researchers are able detect and track weak layers of snow and identify avalanche hazard in a completely different way.

  • 2021 Was U.S. 4th-Warmest Year on Record, Fueled By a Record-Warm December

    The year 2021 was marked by extremes across the U.S., including exceptional warmth, devastating severe weather and the second-highest number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters on record. The U.S. was struck with 20 separate billion-dollar disasters in 2021.

  • Weather Disasters in U.S. Dominate Natural Disaster Losses in 2021

    In 2021, natural disasters caused overall losses of $280bn, of which roughly $120bn were insured. Alongside 2005 and 2011, the year 2021 proved to be the second-costliest ever for the insurance sector (record year 2017: $146bn, inflation-adjusted). Overall losses from natural disasters were the fourth-highest to date (record year 2011: $355bn). Hurricane Ida was the year’s costliest natural disaster, with overall losses of $65bn (insured losses of $36bn). In Europe, flash floods after extreme rainfall caused losses of $54bn (€46bn) – the costliest natural disaster on record in Germany. Many of the weather catastrophes fit in with the expected consequences of climate change, making greater loss preparedness and  climate protection a matter of urgency.

  • Leveraging Social Media During a Disaster

    During a disaster, many people turn to social media seeking information. But communicating during disasters is challenging, especially using an interactive environment like social media where misinformation can spread easily.

  • Enhancing Earthquake Resilience by Updating Steel Building Standard

    Since the mid-1990s, a type of steel column that commonly features slender cross-sectional elements has become more prevalent in buildings along the West Coast of the United States and in other seismically active regions. Although these columns have complied with modern design standards, expert say that our understanding of how they would perform during an earthquake has been limited by a lack of full-scale testing.

  • Cities Boosted Rain, Sent Storms to the Suburbs During Europe’s Deadly Summer Floods

    When it comes to extreme weather, climate change usually gets all the attention. But according to a new study, the unique effects of cities – which can intensify storms and influence where rain falls – need to be accounted for as well.

  • Compound-Flood Modeling Tools Hel Build Community Climate Resilience

    In 2021, extreme flooding from rain affected residents across the United States, causing property damage and loss of life. These extreme weather events are becoming all too common. In fact, a recent United Nations report—Climate Change 2021—found that heavy rain events are likely to become more intense and frequent, resulting in an increase in severe flooding events around the globe.

  • December in Texas Hottest on Record in More Than 130 Years

    The state climatologist says last month was the warmest December since 1889. From Dallas through Abilene to Del Rio, temperatures averaged 5 to 9 degrees above normal.

  • Antarctica’s “Doomsday” Glacier: How Its Collapse Could Trigger Global Floods and Swallow Islands

    Driven by global warming, sea level has risen around 20cm since 1900, an amount which is already forcing coastal communities out of their homes and exacerbating environmental problems such as flooding, saltwater contamination and habitat loss. The massive Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica is similar in size to Great Britain, and it contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 65cm if it were to completely collapse. The worry is that Thwaites might not be the only glacier to go.

  • Controlled Burning of Natural Environments Could Help Offset Carbon Emissions

    Planting trees and suppressing wildfires do not necessarily maximize the carbon storage of natural ecosystems. A new study has found that prescribed burning can actually lock in or increase carbon in the soils of temperate forests, savannahs and grasslands.

  • What Are the Geopolitical Risks of Manipulating the Climate?

    It would only take one country—watching its crops shrivel or its water run dry—deciding to take a chance to set in motion a global geoengineering climate experiment, and technologies which could, for example, block the sun’s rays or siphon huge amounts of carbon from the air are not that far out of reach. The effects could get out of hand quickly. Yet the international community has not established the kinds of guardrails you might expect for potentially world-changing technologies. As a result, no single governing body is overseeing geoengineering efforts on a global scale.

  • The Use of Earthquake Science for Assessing Risks to Gas Pipelines

    New study highlights the need to continue efforts to systematically quantify nationwide earthquake risk to gas pipelines in the United States, which manages the largest gas pipeline network in the world.

  • Simulation Models of Potential Asteroid Collisions

    An asteroid impact can be enough to ruin anyone’s day, but several small factors can make the difference between an out-of-this-world story and total annihilation.

  • Improving Estimates of Population Exposed to Sea Level Rise: Not as Straightforward as It May Seem

    An analysis of data from 2015 finds that between 750 million and more than a billion people globally resided in the ≤ 10 meters low elevation coastal zone (LECZ), up from 521 million and 745 million in 1990. Understanding the number and location of people living LECZ is necessary for policy makers and communities preparing for and adapting to impacts from sea level rise caused by climate change.