• Preventing Ground Collapse Through New AI-based Monitoring

    As severe urban overcrowding is trending worldwide, many underground development projects are being carried out in metropolitan centers worldwide. Accident prevention has become a major challenge since accidents in underground spaces have occurred due to various causes.

  • ‘A Silent Killer’: How Saltwater Intrusion is Overtaking Coastal Farmland in the U.S.

    As hurricanes get stronger, storm surges are bringing saltwater to farmland—and leaving salt there once waters evaporate. And as sea level increases due to climate change, the difference between ocean water levels and soil elevation is decreasing, making post-storm water runoff more difficult. With enough flooding, the soil on farms could become so salinized that crops can no longer be grown on that land. The salt eventually makes contact with freshwater aquifers, thus salinizing them.

  • 2023: Record Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

    2023 still has three-and-a-half months to go, but it has already broken the record for $1-billion climate-driven disasters, that is, disasters which have caused damage of at least $1 billion. So far this year, the United States has experienced 23 such disasters. The previous record – 22 $1-billion climate disasters – was in 2020. The 1980–2022 annual average is 8.1 $1-billion events; the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2018–2022) is 18.0 $1-billion events.

  • Human Destruction of Floodplains Significantly Increases Flood Risks

    A study of human destruction of natural floodplains highlight the critical role floodplains play in wildlife preservation, water quality, and the reduction of flood risk for people. “The bottom line is that the world is at greater flood risk than what we realized, especially considering what effect human development has had on floodplains,” says an expert.

  • 100th Anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake: Is Japan Ready for the Next Big One?

    Japan is marking 100 years since a devastating earthquake triggered a widespread inferno in Kanto, a region that includes the capital, Tokyo. Most of the tens of thousands of victims perished in the fire. seismologists put the likelihood of another major quake beneath the Kanto region of Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures at 70% in the next 30 years.

  • WIFIRE Lab Forms New Partnership with DHS

    For the past 10 years, the WIFIRE team at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego has been focused on meeting the growing needs of hazard monitoring, mitigation and response. Most recently, the team has partnered with DHS to integrate edge computing – a strategy emphasizing data collection and analysis at the site of or geographically near data sources. Joint effort aims to demonstrate workflows utilizing edge computing for wildfire monitoring, response and mitigation.

  • The Causes of the 1931 Yangtze River Deluge

    In the summer of 1931, an unprecedented calamity unfolded along the Yangtze River basin in eastern China—the 1931 Yangtze River flood, known as one of history’s deadliest natural disasters. This cataclysmic event submerged a staggering 180,000 km2, affected 25 million lives, and claimed over 2 million lives. What caused this monumental flood?

  • The U.S. Is Spending Billions to Reduce Forest Fire Risks – We Mapped the Hot Spots Where Treatment Offers the Biggest Payoff for People and Climate

    In a new study, my colleagues and I mapped out where forest treatments can do the most to simultaneously protect communities – by preventing wildfires from turning into disasters – and also protect the forests and the climate we rely on, by keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and stored in healthy soils and trees.

  • How ERCOT Is Narrowly Getting Through an Extreme Summer — and How Experts Say It Could Do Better

    Record-high power demand and faltering electricity sources have tested the grid in the past month, forcing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to dig deep into its toolbox to keep power flowing.

  • North America’s Summer of Wildfire Smoke: 2023 Was Only the Beginning

    Canada’s seemingly endless wildfires in 2023 introduced millions of people across North America to the health hazards of wildfire smoke. While Western states have contended with smoky fire seasons for years, the air quality alerts across the U.S. Midwest and Northeast this summer reached levels never seen there before. The pressing question on many people’s minds: “Is this the new normal?” From our perspective as air quality scientists, we think the answer is likely “yes.”

  • Shutting Off Power to Reduce Wildfire Risk on Windy Days Isn’t a Simple Decision – an Energy Expert Explains the Trade-Offs Electric Utilities Face

    Maui County is suing Hawaiian Electric, claiming the utility was negligent for not shutting off power as strong winds hit the island in the hours before the city of Lahaina burned. Electricity is critical infrastructure and a foundational bedrock to many other services, so utilities have to balance the risk of keeping power on with the risks created by shutting power off.

  • The Vital Role of the Civilian Community in Responding to Natural Disasters

    Disaster preparedness is not about prediction. Leaders shouldn’t get caught up in trying to define what precisely we need to prepare for and when. Instead, they need to be ready for compounding national disruptions of any kind, at any time. Given the interconnectedness of our modern world, integrating broad economic, social and environmental preparedness will be better for resilience than mapping out overly detailed contingencies.

  • A Tropical Storm in California? Warmer Waters and El Niño Made It Possible.

    Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall in Mexico and crossed into California last weekend, knocking out power and drenching wide swaths of southern California. Los Angeles received 2.48 inches of rain on Sunday, breaking a single-day record from 1906 of 0.03 inches. Storm Hilary adds to the lengthy list of climate-fueled disasters this summer.

  • Sediment Movement During Hurricane Harvey Could Negatively Impact Future Flooding

    Enormous amounts of sediment, or sand and mud, flowed through Houston waterways during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, due in part to modifications made by humans to bayous, rivers and streams over the past century. Harvey was the largest rainfall event in U.S. history, and it moved 27 million cubic meters of sediment, or 16 Astrodomes, through Houston waterways and reservoirs. This could seriously impact future flooding events and be costly to the City of Houston.

  • Scientists Are Helping Cities Adapt to Extreme Heat

    Extreme heat is dangerous and is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths, and in a warming world, extreme heat is becoming the norm, not the exception. Scientists are working to mitigate the effects of extreme heat by developing strategies to build heat resilience which would allow communities to adapt to and thrive in a warming climate.