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13 November 2014

Satellite nightlight images show flood exposure increasing worldwide

More people around the world live in flood-prone regions than did 20 years ago, increasing death tolls and economic damage from floods and the chances that flooding will cause similar losses in the future, a new study finds. The increased concentration of human populations in flood-risk zones could exacerbate an already expected upsurge in flood-related destruction in a warming climate, the researchers report.
The study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Its authors used satellite images to show that a widely used proxy for population—the number of lights seen at night—increased globally along rivers by an average of 1.2 percent each year between 1992 and 2012.

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26 August 2014

Heating up the fishbowl: Climate change threatens endangered Devils Hole pupfish

Climate change is hurting reproduction of the critically endangered Devils Hole pupfish, threatening the survival of the already small population, new research shows.

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5 August 2014

Sea-level spikes can harm beaches worse than hurricane

Unforeseen, short-term increases in sea level caused by strong winds, pressure changes and fluctuating ocean currents can cause more damage to beaches on the East Coast over the course of a year than a powerful hurricane making landfall, according to a new study. The new research suggests that these sea-level anomalies could be more of a threat to coastal homes and businesses than previously thought, and could become higher and more frequent as a result of climate change.

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24 July 2014

Dropped cell phone calls become rain gauges in West Africa

A shaky cell phone connection during a rainstorm can be an annoying nuisance. But now scientists are showing that these weakened signals can be used to monitor rainfall in West Africa, a technique that could help cities in the region better prepare for floods and combat weather-related diseases.

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12 June 2014

Where it burns, it floods: predicting post-fire mudslides in the West

By Alexandra Branscombe WASHINGTON, DC – Just a week after a 21,000-acre wildfire between Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona, residents there are already bracing for mudslides that could surge down the burned slopes. These water-fueled flows of burned-out trees, loose rocks and mud can pack enough power to wipe out homes and roads. A new online hazard assessment system could help threatened communities in central Arizona and elsewhere in the western …

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30 May 2014

Sonar could spot oil spills hidden by Arctic ice

By Alexandra Branscombe WASHINGTON, DC –Melting summer sea ice is opening up new shipping and drilling opportunities in the Arctic, bringing with them the potential for oil spills that could become trapped under the remaining sea ice and go unseen by current oil-detection methods. Now, a team of scientists is investigating a way to use sound waves to find this elusive oil. Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts …

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22 May 2014

Applying science to natural resource policy issues: Social science joins natural and physical sciences

By Jana Davis, Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Trust As AGU members, we generally focus on the contribution of physical and natural science solutions to policy questions. But sometimes an issue calls for us to step outside the boundaries of these “hard” sciences to the social sciences. Areas in which many of us tend to be less comfortable. And less trained. Watershed restoration and protection can be just such an issue. …

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23 April 2014

Proposed seawater-based air conditioning could benefit farmers

Discharged seawater pumped from the ocean and used for a renewable air conditioning system would overload surface waters with minerals that could potentially be captured instead for use in agriculture, according to a noted oceanographer.

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6 November 2013

Top 5 Reasons You Should Check out AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange, and more information

AGU has launched the Thriving Earth Exchange, a new initiative that supports communities as they protect themselves from hazards, adapt to a changing planet, and create sustainable futures. Featured in this week’s edition of Eos, learn more about the program where AGU members will work with local leaders to contribute their Earth and space science expertise to significant societal challenges. The Thriving Earth Exchange is inspired by a series of …

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26 July 2013

Streamflow and storms at Glen Falls

In between bouts of hottish weather (I don’t count it as hot unless it’s well into the nineties and the humidity is fairly high) and the occasional cool day like today, we’ve been having some fairly spectacular thunderstorms in Buffalo. That’s no unusual thing in the summertime, but after teaching a chunk of an intro course about streamflow and what happens after it rains, I’ve started paying more attention to water features in my area.

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28 June 2013

Carbon-cutting steps like those Obama proposed could improve, and worsen, water woes

As President Obama announced sweeping policies Tuesday aimed at curbing carbon emissions and combating climate change, water resources experts at a Washington, D.C. meeting across town from where Obama spoke discussed the entwined nature of water conservation and energy production .”Saving greenhouse gas emissions saves water too,” said Robert Jackson of Duke University in Durham, N.C., as he and other panelists discussed retrofitting power plants that burn coal or other fossil fuels and turning to alternative energy sources.

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4 June 2013

The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges to Meet Growing Demands

Water and energy are linked resources in ever-increasing demand in the United States.  Energy production requires an abundant, reliable, and predictable source of water, a resource that is unfortunately in short supply already throughout large portions of the U.S.  Additionally, developing water supplies can require large amounts of energy to extract, transport, treat, and distribute.  As such, the water-energy nexus presents a significant challenge for our country’s water resource and …

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19 April 2013

Exploring a changing coast in the face of sea level rise – Galveston, Texas

Over 80 scientists gathered at a conference here this week to share their latest research on past, current, and projected future sea level rise and to discuss how this information can be used to shape policy. Despite their diverse perspectives and expertise, one thing the scientists agreed on for sure: the rates and impacts of sea level rise are local and communities are facing a growing risk.

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7 December 2012

Cosmic ray muons watch for carbon leaks

Out of sight, out of mind – that’s the essence of carbon sequestration, an emerging technology designed to fight climate change by packing liquefied carbon dioxide in underground rock formations. But rocks have cracks, wells, holes, and other surprises that could let that carbon, so painstakingly injected, bubble back up to the surface again. Engineers and scientists need a way to watch for leaks that’s reliable and inexpensive. The solution, one scientist says, is already falling from the skies.

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6 December 2012

Surprising Source of Tsunamis

No one knew what happened when a 7-foot wave hit Lake Erie’s shoreline, sweeping holiday weekend beach-goers off of their feet and swamping boats in their harbors on May 27 of this year. News reporters jokingly called it a tsunami, but explained it was just another wave surge in the wake of windy weather coming from the Canadian border. But it was a tsunami.

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5 December 2012

Measuring groundwater recharge could protect rural farmers’ livelihoods

In the Gangeshwar watershed in Rajasthan, India, farmers are at the mercy of their water supply. They use electrical pumps to capture well water for irrigating fields of wheat, rice, cotton and other crops. But wells often run dry, threatening crops and livelihoods. Melissa Rohde, now a graduate student in civil & environmental engineering at Stanford, in Palo Alto, California is working to find a simple, cost-effective way to measure …

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28 October 2012

Halloween Superstorm Heads for Mid-Atlantic

The winds are already increasing along the Eastern Seaboard tonight as Sandy heads northward. I was at Cape Henlopen in Delaware before dark, and the ocean was already roaring with 5-6 foot swells. There is still some disagreement int he model guidance but I’d put the chances of landfall between Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Sandy Hook NJ at 70%. As Sandy turns into an extratropical storm the winds will no …

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27 September 2012

Scientists simulate growing role of Arctic climate culprit

Every summer in the Arctic, a vast system of ponds appears on the broad beds of floating sea ice, only to freeze again when the cold season returns. Researchers consider these transient bodies of water – called melt ponds — an important factor in climate change because they absorb sunlight and contribute to sea-ice loss. While warming has increased the fraction of Arctic sea ice where melt ponds form, global climate models have remained incapable of accurately predicting the influence of melt ponds, scientists say. A new model, which incorporates complex physics of the ponds, is generating predictions of sea-ice extent and thickness that match well with observations, the model’s developers report. The researchers are introducing this new capability just weeks after the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to an unprecedented autumn low that climate models were unable to predict.

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10 September 2012

Arctic Ice Is Disappearing and Our Weather Will Never Be The Same

With every passing year it becomes more apparent that the Arctic Ocean sea ice seems to be in a death spiral. The ice area this September is 45% below the levels during September in the 1980′s, and almost certainly it is at levels that haven’t been seen for a thousand years (and likely much more). The melt back this year smashed the record set back in 2007, and we have now reached …

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29 August 2012

Hurricane Isaac Strengthens Noticeably At Landfall. Risk to New Orleans Increasing.

Winds are gusting to over 100 mph just offshore now and winds are already gusting to near 80 mph around the New Orleans area tonight. The radar data shows a shrinking eye wall and that also indicates the Isaac has gotten stronger. The track now seems likely to put New Orleans in the wettest and windiest part of the storm. The storm surge and the rainfall remain the biggest worries. If you are in …

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