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hazards

The quake's impact on western thinking

The quake occurred on All Saints’ Day, and it destroyed almost every major church in Lisbon. This sparked debate among theologians about whether disasters like earthquakes were acts of divine judgment, or whether they should be seen more as indiscriminate natural phenomena.
 
01 Nov 2015

Santa Ana winds get a fiery boost from the stratosphere

Southern California’s Santa Ana winds have long been implicated in the region’s dangerous and destructive wildfires. Now, a new study in Geophysical Research Letters points the finger at an accomplice: a phenomenon called stratospheric intrusions, which are natural atmospheric events that bring warm, dry air from the upper atmosphere down to the surface. These intrusions may exacerbate fires, as well as the region’s infamously bad air pollution.
 
23 Oct 2015

Toxic Gardens: The long legacy of urban lead

Many urban soils, including those in parks, playgrounds and community gardens, remain contaminated with lead from its historic use in gasoline and house paint. But there are ways to mitigate the risks of this legacy lead.
 
11 Oct 2015

Vital seconds: The journey toward earthquake early warning for all

People living along the U.S. West Coast are keenly aware that they live near faults that could quake at any moment. The good news is that earthquake early warning — providing warnings seconds to minutes before damaging seismic waves hit — is progressing from being just a good idea to reality. 
17 Sep 2015

Ancient floods degassed Lake Kivu

The deep, cold waters of Lake Kivu — a stratified volcanic lake in the East African Rift Valley on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — hold 300 cubic kilometers of carbon dioxide gas and 60 cubic kilometers of methane, which seep from magmatic sources below the lake. An overturning of the thermally stratified waters could release those deadly gases onto a population of nearly 2 million.
 
16 Sep 2015

Hurricane wrath may be reduced by rainfall

Meteorologists have gotten better and better at forecasting the paths of hurricanes and tropical storms, but predicting how intense a storm will be when it makes landfall has proved more difficult. Now, a new study offers a detailed look at how the energetic contributions of rain — once thought to be a trivial factor in such systems — can dramatically affect storm windspeeds and intensity.
 
14 Aug 2015

Volcanic lightning turns ash into glass

Within the ash plumes of explosive volcanic eruptions, collisions among countless pyroclastic particles sometimes lead to the buildup of static charges that discharge dramatically as volcanic lightning. In a new study, researchers have found that this lightning can, in turn, melt and fuse ash particles into distinctive glassy grains called spherules.

07 Aug 2015

Comment: Who should be worried about space weather

If a severe solar storm were headed toward Earth, should you worry? And to whom should you turn for reliable information?
25 Jul 2015

Bare Earth Elements: "Volcano of Fire" eruption forces evacuations in Mexico

Mexico’s civil protection agency, along with local officials, issued an emergency declaration Saturday for the area surrounding Colima Volcano, after the eruption that began on Thursday intensified into the weekend. The eruption is said to have sent towering clouds of ash upwards of 4 kilometers into the sky, while lava and pyroclastic flows have spewed down the flanks of the volcano also known as Volcán de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire — one of Mexico’s most active.

13 Jul 2015

Aquifers contaminated by Supertyphoon Haiyan storm surge

Supertyphoon Haiyan, which battered the Philippines in November 2013, was the most powerful hurricane to make landfall ever recorded. A new study has quantified damage done by the resulting storm surge to the fragile coastal aquifers that residents of one town rely on, and how long it might take for the aquifers to recover.

09 Jul 2015

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