• How Marsh Grass Protects Shorelines

    As climate change brings greater threats to coastal ecosystems, new research can help planners leverage the wave-damping benefits of marsh plants.

  • New Tool Mappin Floods Since 1985 Will Aid Disaster Planning

    Free online World Flood Mapping Tool will help plan urban and agricultural development, effective flood defenses, disaster readiness, and identify supply chain vulnerabilities

  • Blocking the Sun to Control Global Warming

    It sounds like something out of a bad science fiction movie — artificially blocking sunlight to keep global warming from overheating the Earth. Nevertheless, a small cadre of researchers is studying the option — so that if humankind ever needs to use it, it will be an informed decision.

  • How the Terrifying Evacuations from the Twin Towers on 9/11 Helped Make Today's Skyscrapers Safer

    One legacy of the 9/11 tragedy and the harrowing experience of those who successfully escaped the Twin Towers – the disaster was the most significant high-rise evacuation in modern times —  is that today’s skyscrapers can be emptied much more safely and easily in an emergency.

  • 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Debunked: 20 Years Later, Engineering Experts Explain How the Twin Towers Collapsed

    The collapse of the World Trade Center has been subject to intense public scrutiny over the last twenty years, prompting several investigations and spawning a variety of conspiracy theories. FEMA’s report was published in 2002, and NIST’s 3-year investigation produced a report which was published in 2005. While there have been critics of both reports, their explanation for the buildings’ collapse is widely accepted. They conclude it was not caused by direct impact by the aircraft, or the use of explosives, but by fires that burned inside the buildings after impact.

  • Why Buildings Fall — Over Time

    The recent collapse of the condo building in Florida served as a dire warning for the nation’s aging infrastructure problem and the deadly consequences that can result. Researchers explore how time can factor in a building collapse.

  • A 20-Foot Sea Wall Won’t Save Miami – How Living Structures Can Help Protect the Coast and Keep the Paradise Vibe

    There’s no question that the city is at increasing risk of flooding as sea level rises and storms intensify with climate change. But the sea wall the Army Corps is proposing – protecting only 6 miles of downtown and the financial district from a storm surge – can’t save Miami and Dade County. There are more effective – and cheaper solutions.

  • Most Buildings Were Designed for an Earlier Climate – Here’s What Will Happen as Global Warming Accelerates

    Architects and engineers design buildings and other structures, like bridges, to operate within the parameters of the local climate. The structures are built using materials and following design standards which can withstand the range of temperatures, rainfall, snow, and wind which are expected, plus any geological issues such as earthquakes, subsidence, and ground water levels. When any of these parameters are exceeded, chances are some aspects of the structure will fail.

  • Florida Condo Collapse – Searching for Answers about What Went Wrong in Surfside Can Improve Building Regulation

    How does a building stand for 40 years and then collapse, perhaps with little or no warning? Why did it collapse so that part of the building stayed up, sparing many lives? It might take months or longer for engineers to find answers to these questions. But those reports, when they do come, are important because engineers can use them to improve building codes and other safety measures – and hopefully prevent future collapses.

  • Explaining Shortages in STEM Careers

    A new study by the University of Georgia revealed that more college students change majors within the STEM pipeline than leave the career path of science, technology, engineering and mathematics altogether.

  • Exploring the Possible Risks, Benefits of Geoengineering

    Climate change is creating impacts that are widespread and severe — and in many cases irreversible — for individuals, communities, economies, and ecosystems around the world. 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, bringing with it a number of costly climate disasters, including the worst wildfire season ever recorded in the Western U.S., historic flooding in China and other parts of Asia, and severe droughts in South America. One of the approaches to avoid the most serious, possibly catastrophic impacts, of climate change is solar geoengineering.

  • Increasing Flood Risks in the U.K.

    As climate change continues to cause unpredictable and extreme weather events around the world, researchers are calling for engineers to rethink how they design for flood prevention. Flood frequency analysis has been the cornerstone of flood risk control, hydraulic structure design, and water resource management, but the researchers say that flood series in most areas do not follow historical patterns.

  • Solar Geoengineering May Alleviate Impacts of Global Warming on Crops

    Solar geoengineering — putting aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight and reduce global warming — is not a fix-all for climate change but it could be one of several tools to manage climate risks. A growing body of research has explored the ability of solar geoengineering to reduce physical climate changes. But much less is known about how solar geoengineering could affect the ecosystem and, particularly, agriculture.

  • Engineers and Economists Prize Efficiency, but Nature Favors Resilience – Lessons from Texas, COVID-19 and the 737 Max

    The damage from Winter Storm Uri, the economic devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic and the fatal Boeing 737 Max accidents show the price society pays for a relentless pursuit of efficiency. Modern society has prioritized free-market economics and efficient computer systems to the detriment of other priorities. Studies of algorithms show that efficiency can come at a high cost. Sexual reproduction and car insurance highlight the benefits of resilience.

  • How Do We Know Whether an Asteroid Headed Our Way Is Dangerous?

    There are a lot of things that pose a threat to our planet – climate change, natural disasters, and solar flares, for example. But one threat in particular often captures public imagination, finding itself popularized in books and films and regularly generating alarming headlines: asteroids.