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2 January 2019
On January 16, 2016, a sudden swath of large and powerful waves swept through seaside communities along 450 kilometers (280 miles) of Pacific Northwest coastline. From Washington to northern California, water rushed past normal tide lines and filled beaches and streets, stretching hundreds of meters inland. These “sneaker waves” are aptly named given their unannounced arrival, which occurs when massive waves push extra water onshore—a higher-than-usual water level that scientists refer to as runup. At best, these events take beachgoers by surprise. At worst, they are disastrous and fatal.
28 December 2018
Tropical cyclones, and the torrential rains and strong winds these storms bring along with them, threaten coastal communities around the world and are expected to increase in intensity due to climate change. Whether or not a natural hazard, such as a tropical cyclone, becomes a natural disaster depends on whether the hazard overwhelms existing human infrastructure in a particular country or region. But when does a natural disaster result in fatalities?
27 December 2018
Saturn’s rings act like Venetian blinds that block sunlight for the hemisphere that’s tilted farther away from the Sun, limiting winter sunlight. This cuts down on the planet’s haze and golden glow.
21 December 2018
On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake stuck the Gorkha region of Nepal near the capital city of Kathmandu. Approximately 9,000 people died and more than 22,000 suffered injuries. The quake also triggered more than 20,000 landslides in the surrounding area. A team of scientists at the University of Southern California is studying how the topography of the Melamchi Valley in Gorkha affected the incidence of landslides after the 2015 earthquake.
20 December 2018
Heat waves in the Northern Hemisphere have gotten more expansive in recent decades, covering 25 percent more area now than they did in the 1970s, according to new research. A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, the University of Delaware and Stanford University analyzed 38 years of NASA climate and weather data and found the average size of a heat wave has grown by 50 percent over the entire Northern Hemisphere, including the ocean, and 25 percent over the Northern Hemisphere’s land. It’s the first study to examine how heat wave extent has increased over time on a global scale.
19 December 2018
Conservation scientists can use free satellite imagery to track invasive plant species on remote Pacific islands, according to new research. Mary Engels, a PhD student at the University of Idaho, has found a way to use freely available imagery from NASA’s Landsat satellites to identify coconut trees in Pacific Islands, rather than using costly images from private satellite companies.
18 December 2018
Scientists can now measure ice flow in Antarctica in far more detail, thanks to the help of a new satellite technology. Using a novel satellite technique called interferometric synthetic aperture radar, or InSAR, scientists can measure the direction of slow ice movement with extreme levels of precision. Slow ice movement is defined as a shift of 1 to 30 meters (3 to 98 feet) per year.
17 December 2018
Factories mass produce goods for society and many emit greenhouse gases in the process, but not all are run by humans. Some factories lie underground and are operated around the clock by tireless six-legged workers. A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, shows leafcutter ant nests can emit carbon dioxide at a rate thousands of times higher than regular soil.
12 December 2018
Tracking human demographic, climate, and environmental data may help scientists predict and prioritize areas with high risk for mosquito-borne diseases, according to new research.
A recently developed early warning system can forecast floods on coral-lined coasts worldwide and could help save residents of low-lying island nations from unprecedented disaster, according to researchers.