• The U.K. Government’s Preparedness for COVID-19: Risk-Management Lessons

    A new report from the U.K. National Audit Office (NAO) examines the government’s risk analysis, planning, and mitigation strategies prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes that the pandemic has exposed a vulnerability to whole-system emergencies – that is, emergencies which are so broad that they require the engagement of the entire system.

  • Balance of Power—Building a Resilient Electric Grid

    Events such as blackouts and outages are increasing in frequency as the nation’s infrastructure ages and climate change leads to extreme weather events. Hotter, wetter summers and harsher winters require more reliance on heating and cooling utilities, placing higher stress on the nation’s electric grid. Newtechnology can ‘help keep the lights on’ during emergencies.

  • Microgrids May Hold the Key to Grid Resilience

    The aging energy grid is being pushed to the breaking point. Power outages from extreme weather alone cost anywhere from $2 billion to $77 billion per year. And some isolated communities still rely on diesel generators for electricity, since powerlines don’t reach them. Grid expansion isn’t an option—in most cases, the economics don’t make sense. When the main grid falls short, the right mix of renewables offers local, low-carbon power.

  • Getting the Asteroid Before It Gets Us

    Last week, the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters became a reality when NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), a small spacecraft that will smash into an asteroid sometime in September or October to try to alter its path.

  • Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Europe?

    Earthquakes and tsunamis do not only threaten distant coasts, but also ports, cities and coasts in European waters. Researchers, provides for the first time comprehensive information on the marine geological hazards that can affect countries across Europe. The manifold risks should be considered more strongly in political and economic decisions.

  • Groundwater in California’s Central Valley May Be Unable to Recover from Past and Future Droughts

    Groundwater in California’s Central Valley is at risk of being depleted by pumping too much water during and after droughts. Water resources could be pushed beyond recovery in a region that provides about a quarter of the U.S. food supply.

  • “People Should Probably Be Worried”: Texas Hasn’t Done Enough to Prevent Another Winter Blackout, Experts Say

    Natural gas powers the majority of electricity in Texas, especially during winter. Some power companies say the state’s gas system is not ready for another deep freeze.

  • Eight Worst Wildfire Weather Years on Record Happened in the Last Decade

    The world’s eight most extreme wildfire weather years have occurred in the last decade. Lower humidity and higher temperatures are driving extreme weather that makes wildfires more frequent and intense.

  • Machine Learning Helps Measure Building Earthquake Damage

    One obstacle which often prevent an effective response to earthquakes is that the buildings from which such a response is managed and response equipment stored, are themselves damaged. Researchers have developed a method to quickly assess damage to such buildings immediately after an earthquake to determine whether the buildings can be continued to be used.  

  • National Security Consequences of Climate Change

    The consequences of climate change for national security and international stability are numerus and serious. Rising temperatures which reduce agricultural opportunities can lead to mass migrations away from struggling communities. Violent hurricanes and winter storms can disrupt electric grid operations, interrupting access to electricity and other utilities long after the initial climate threat has passed. Researchers are simulating how climate change affects the safety and security of the country.

  • How Climate Change Will Impact National Security

    The recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) lays out the likely security implications over the next two decades of the mounting climate crisis. Calder Walton, the research director at Harvard’s Belfer Center, says: “Let’s start with the basics: that climate change does pose a threat to U.S. national security. The National Intelligence Estimate is a joint assessment produced by the entire U.S. intelligence community, 18 agencies. That’s significant. There are no naysayers; there’s no doubt. So that’s a breakthrough. In this extraordinarily polarized and politicized environment, that is a big milestone itself.”

  • First Planetary Defense Test

    An asteroid slammed into Earth 63 billion years ago, igniting vast fires which threw smoke and soot into the atmosphere, plunging the planet into a prolonged winter, killing many plants on which herbivores depended. The extinction of the dinosaurs was only one consequence of that event. NASA wants to make sure there is no repetition of such a calamity: The agency is planning the first-ever planetary defense test, which deliberately collides a spacecraft into an asteroid called Dimorphos. The aim is to try and deflect the asteroid away from its Earth-bound trajectory. 

  • Seismic Shockwave Pattern May Be Redirecting Earthquake Damage

    New research could change the way scientists think about potential damage from earthquakes. The study examined data from one of the densest seismic arrays ever deployed and found that earthquakes emit their strongest seismic shockwaves in four opposing directions.

  • Be Prepared: It Is Impossible to Predict an Earthquake

    In earthquake-prone developed countries like Japan and New Zealand, even severe earthquakes cause very few deaths – they are mainly stories of economic loss. Earthquakes without Frontiers (EwF) supported physical and social scientists in eight U.K. universities and institutes working to increase resilience to earthquakes in Asian countries. But throughout much of the Mediterranean—Middle East–Central Asia earthquake belt, earthquakes here will kill tens, or hundreds of thousands of people.

  • Germany: Building Back in Flood-Prone Areas After a Flood

    After deadly flash flooding devastated villages in Germany’s Ahr Valley, many residents are hoping to return. But experts say there needs to be a fundamental change in how we build in areas at risk of floods.