• Critical Global Water Questions

    Recent intense heatwaves in India and widespread U.S. droughts have highlighted the need for a global approach to tackling chronic water shortages. The problem is that most governments are not equipped to deal with these challenges of water scarcity, sanitation and climate dynamics.

  • Preparing Communities for Dam-Related Emergencies

    There are more than 90,000 dams registered in the U.S. National Inventory of Dams across the country. But we rarely hear about them until the worst happens: one of them fails. Extreme weather events and the aging dam infrastructure are making dam-related emergency action plans more critical than ever.

  • Cybersecurity Tools to Protect Solar, Wind Power on the Grid

    Solar panels and wind turbines are projected to produce 44% of America’s electricity by 2050, but they present cybersecurity challenges. They have sensors, controllers, actuators or inverters which are directly or indirectly connected to the internet using insecure connectivity to legacy electric grid systems. They have complex physics. They’re subject to advanced persistent threats. And there will be more and more of them going online.

  • Add-on Benefits of Natural Defenses Against Sea-Level Rise

    Researchers modeled how investing in environmental conservation and protection can help San Mateo County, California, adapt to rising seas. The findings provide incentives for policymakers to prioritize nature-based approaches when planning for sea-level rise.

  • Protecting Nuclear Waste Containers from Metal-Corroding Microbes

    Canada has about three million bundles of used nuclear fuel, which contain the solid uranium that powers nuclear reactors. They’re stored in above-ground containers at seven facilities across the country, with 90,000 added every year. The containers only last about 50 to 100 years, but used nuclear fuel must be stored for one million years before its radiation levels return to that of naturally occurring uranium ore. Canada is getting closer to moving all its spent nuclear fuel to a single facility, and encasing each fuel container in bentonite clay, and researchers are studying whether that clay could support microbial life – which could eat away at the metal containers.

  • Sustainable Solution for Oil, Gas Wastewater

    As demand for new energy sources grows, the wastewater co-produced alongside oil and gas (produced water) shows no signs of slowing down: The current volume of wastewater - the result of water forced underground to fracture rock and release the deposits - is estimated at 250 million barrels per day, compared to 80 million barrels per day of oil. Engineers are developing a new way to clean the produced water for reuse, and it’s already being tested in Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota.

  • The Risk of Drinking Contaminated Water During Flooding

    In addition to causing property damage and psychological impacts, flooding can pose a significant health risk, particularly due to contamination of drinking water sources. Researchers are a decision-making tool to estimate the risk of water contamination in flooded areas.

  • Groundwater Depletion Causes California Farmland to Sink

    A new study simulates 65 years of land subsidence, or sinking, caused by groundwater depletion in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The results suggest significant sinking may continue for centuries after water levels stop declining but could slow within a few years if aquifers recover.

  • U.S. Elevates Water Security as Foreign Policy Priority

    By Patsy Widakuswara

    The White House on Wednesday announced the an Action Plan on Global Water Security, drawing direct links between water scarcity and national security and elevating water security to a core foreign policy priority for the first time.

  • Operational Protection of Water Infrastructure Against Cyber-Physical Threats

    As the water supply system becomes more digitalized, cyberthreats are increasing. It is time for an all-hazard risk management and mitigation system.

  • The Wall of Wind Can Blow Away Buildings at Category 5 Hurricane Strength to Help Engineers Design Safer Homes – but Even That Isn’t Powerful Enough

    By Richard Olson and Ameyu B. Tolera

    When engineers built the Wall of Wind test facility 10 years ago at Florida International University, it was inspired by Hurricane Andrew, a monster of a storm that devastated South Florida in 1992. Tropical storms are ramping up in intensity as the climate changes and ocean and air temperatures rise. Designing homes and infrastructure to withstand future storms will require new test facilities that go well beyond today’s capabilities.

  • As the Grid Adds Wind Power, Recovery from Blackouts Must Be Reengineered

    When the power grid goes down, there’s a step-by-step recovery process – a “blackstart” that up to now has depended on power from gas or hydro turbines spinning away inside a power plant. But what if we’re talking about a wind power plant?

  • California Hydropower Could Be Cut in Half This Summer: Report

    By Emily Pontecorvo

    A third year of drought spells less hydropower, more natural gas, and higher electricity prices. The U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, reported last week that as reservoir levels dip far below their historic averages, electricity generation from California’s hydroelectric dams could be cut in half this summer.

  • A Quarter of World's Internet Users Rely on Infrastructure Highly Vulnerable to Attack

    About a quarter of the world’s Internet users live in countries that are more susceptible than previously thought to targeted attacks on their Internet infrastructure. Many of the at-risk countries are located in the Global South.

  • Mitigating Flood Disasters

    Engineers have proposed a flood control measure which recommends designing permeable pavements to specifically suit local rainfall and soil conditions and reduce flood impacts.