• Tool Estimates Costs of Power Interruptions

    Berkeley Lab-led initiative helps electric companies improve grid reliability and resilience. The initiative aims to update and upgrade the Interruption Cost Estimate (ICE) Calculator – a publicly available, online tool – which estimates the economic consequences of power interruptions.

  • New Flood Maps Clarify the Risk Homeowners Face

    Flooding in urban areas cost Americans more than $106 billion between 1960 and 2016, damaging property, disrupting businesses and claiming lives in the process. Determining which areas are most likely to flood amid ever-changing land use and shifting rainfall and climate patterns can be expensive and complicated. New maps more realistically depict flood zones with less effort, lower costs.

  • The World’s Largest Experimental Earthquake Infrastructure Facility

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) promotes research investments and technology that help recognize and mitigate the impacts of natural disasters across the U.S.“The ability to test infrastructure under a full range of motion is critical for unleashing new and pioneering research that can lead to effective, economical and innovative infrastructure designs and retrofitting strategies for existing infrastructure,” said NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

  • Why UK Railways Can’t Deal with Heatwaves – and What Might Help

    Like most construction materials, steel, which rails are made from, expands when air temperature increases. When this movement is restrained by the anchorage, which holds the rail and the sleeper (the rectangular supports for the rails) in place, internal stresses build up, and compression buckles or kinks the rail. Trains cannot travel over rail lines with kinks. In the US, kinks caused by the sun caused over 2,100 train derailments in the past 40 years, equivalent to around 50 derailments per year.

  • Climate Change, Land-Use Changes Increase Likelihood of Flood Events

    The German government estimates the total losses resulting from the disastrous floods in July 2021 at 32 billion euros. To improve future preparedness for such extreme events, researchers advise that risk assessments take greater account of the landscape and river courses, how they change, and how sediments are transported. In addition, projections show an increase in the spatial extent and frequency of such extreme events, as well as higher amounts of precipitation.

  • Europe Heat Wave: U.K. Records Hottest-Ever Temperature

    Western Europe continues to bake in extreme heat, with the UK recording a temperature over 40 degrees Celsius for the first time, and wildfires burning through French forests. Relief is expected later in the week.

  • Britain Isn’t Built to Withstand 40°C – Here Is Where Infrastructure Is Most Likely to Fail

    Climate change is intensifying heatwaves in the UK, an affluent country with the capacity and resources to adapt to warmer temperatures. Still, very little has been done over the past ten years to address overheating in buildings and the rising risk to critical infrastructure. The country is unprepared to handle temperatures of more than 38°C consistently for long periods, which is more common in Mediterranean countries.

  • Warning System for Dangerous Heavy Rain and Flash Floods

    In recent years, there have been repeated flash floods in Germany, some with devastating effects, which have been triggered by localized heavy rainfall. New project aims to provide prototypical warnings at different spatial scales, from the whole of Germany to individual federal states and down to the municipal level.

  • U.S. Dominated by Remarkable Heat, Dryness

    June kicked off a very warm and dry start to meteorological summer for the U.S. The U.S. struck with 9 separate billion-dollar disasters so far this year. The average June temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 70.7 degrees F — 2.2 degrees above average.

  • Rare Earths in Australia Must Be About More Than Mining

    REEs are a group of 17 metals—15 elements from the lanthanide series and two chemically similar elements, scandium and yttrium. Each has unique properties vital for a range of commercial and defense technologies, including batteries, high-powered magnets and electronic equipment. China’s rare-earth production exceeds that of the world’s second-largest producer, the U.S., by more than 100,000 tons per year. The U.S. still relies on China for most rare-earth imports. In some cases, like heavy REE processing, China has 100 percent control of the market.

  • Protecting the Coastline

    Barrier islands protect the coastline from storms, storm surge, waves and flooding. They can act as a buffer between the ocean and beachfront property. But as sea level rises, barrier islands retreat, or move closer toward the shore, which diminishes the buffer and protection. Oceanographers develop new model to better predict barrier island retreat.

  • Climate Models May Underestimate Future Floods

    Climate models may be significantly underestimating how extreme precipitation will become in response to a rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a new study finds. It all comes down to raindrop physics, says one researcher: Even a slight change in the percentage of each falling raindrop to reach the Earth’s surface can mean the difference between a climate of light drizzles and one that creates unprecedented deluges.

  • Collapsed Bridge Helps Inform Future Flood-Resistant Designs

    In 2018, an unprecedented flooding collapsed the Misasa Railroad Bridge, some nine miles inland from Japan’s western coast. Such infrastructure failures will continue to increase as weather events become more extreme. But we can learn optimal design needs from the catastrophic problem of failed structures.

  • Bridges Under Pressure

    Can a bridge withstand an earthquake? One of the big unknowns is how far a bridge might settle from seismic shaking, especially if the shaking triggers a quicksand-like soil response called liquefaction.

  • How Does the U.S. Power Grid Work?

    Responsible for powering the country and its economy, the U.S. energy grid has come under increasing strain due to climate change, and the threat of cyberattacks looms. The U.S. electric grid brings power to millions of homes and businesses via a vast network of transmission and distribution lines. Experts say the grid is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as the February 2021 Texas winter storms, and cyberattacks. President Biden has proposed overhauling the grid, but his plans could face legal and political hurdles.