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hazards

Road salt may be a larger problem for lakes than thought

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that approximately 30 million tons of road salt were applied to U.S. roads during 2015 to speed up the melting of snow and ice. Recently, scientists have observed increasing impacts on ecosystems and water quality linked to its application. New research, for example, finds that road salt influx is geochemically disrupting the ecosystem health of urban lakes in Michigan, and it may even lead to rising methane emissions from the lakes.

19 Jan 2017

Scientists map U.S. geoelectric hazards

During solar storms, electrons and protons collide with Earth’s atmosphere, disrupting the geomagnetic field and sometimes creating the flashing waves of colorful light in the night sky we know as auroras. But these same storms — if strong enough — have the potential to severely damage power grids.
 

19 Jan 2017

Tornadic storms fed by perfect spirals

Sometimes, large thunderstorms called supercells spawn tornadoes; sometimes they don’t. Predicting whether supercell drafts will spiral into a tornado is tricky, with false-alarm rates running as high as 75 percent. In a new study using helium balloons to study tornadogenesis in supercells, researchers have shown that wind patterns in the lowest 1 kilometer of a storm may play a major role in forming twisters.

17 Jan 2017

Earthquake-resilient pipes aim to keep L.A.'s water flowing

Southern California is notoriously dry, and the city of Los Angeles imports its water from Northern California. But there’s a potentially disastrous hurdle to cross: The San Andreas Fault runs just north of Los Angeles, slicing across all four of the major aqueducts that deliver water to the city. In the event of a major earthquake, water supplies to 4 million people could be cut altogether. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is working to disaster-proof the aqueducts as well as the 12,000 kilometers of pipelines that run throughout the city. A recent round of testing of a new type of earthquake-resilient pipeline at a specially designed laboratory at Cornell University is reassuring the LADWP that they’re on the right track.

08 Jan 2017

Active Japanese volcano due for large eruption?

In January 1914, Japan’s most active volcano, Sakurajima, erupted violently, covering the nearby city of Kagoshima in a layer of ash. The lava flows from this event filled the strait between the mainland and the island volcano, transforming it into a peninsula.

04 Jan 2017

Scientists find earthquakes trigger instantaneous aftershocks on neighboring faults

Earthquake aftershocks may be more unpredictable than previously thought. Researchers studying past quakes say they have identified a new class of aftershocks that can occur within seconds to minutes after the mainshock on neighboring faults.

29 Dec 2016

Life-saving diplomacy: The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program at thirty

The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program is the world’s only rapid-response team of volcanologists that works around the world to prevent eruptions from becoming disasters. The program has been deploying people and equipment to volcanic crises for three decades. |

18 Dec 2016

New research suggests Syrian refugees must be accounted for in seismic risk models

New estimates of earthquake fatalities in Turkey are 3 to 20 percent higher when Syrian refugees are included in seismic risk models, according to new research.

13 Dec 2016

Smokier U.S. West as climate changes

Extended wildfire seasons and larger and more frequent burns will likely be the consequence of the hotter and drier conditions expected to result from climate change. New research shows that this expected surge in wildfires also poses a growing threat to human health.

11 Dec 2016

A L'Aquila trigger, seismic gaps and poor construction: What we've learned from the August earthquake in Italy

Seismologists examine what happened during the Aug. 24 earthquake in Rieti and discuss what those findings might mean for the future of this seismically active region. 
20 Nov 2016

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