Taxonomy term

may 2012

Better warnings for the consequences of earthquakes: Bringing seismic hazard and risk assessments to policy

Although seismologists and engineers have generated a world map of seismic hazard, which shows the level of ground shaking not likely to be exceeded, the ground motions and death tolls of several recent large quakes have far exceeded expectations. It’s time to change the way we measure seismic hazard and seismic risk.

29 May 2012

Carbon and the city: Tracking emissions from megacities

Sometime in the first century A.D., Rome’s population passed 1 million. It took more than 18 centuries for a city to surpass the 10 million mark, which both New York City and Tokyo did by 1950. Just six decades later, the world now has about 20 such “megacities” with populations of 10 million or more, including the largest, Tokyo, with a population of 35 million.

22 May 2012

Energy Notes: January 2011-2012

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

 
19 May 2012

Kilauea's Explosive Past - and Future

The explosive history of Kilauea is not well known. Today, it’s renowned for lobes of slow-moving, calm lava, which ooze out of cracks in the flanks of the volcano, pour downslope and eventually flow into the sea, where the lava cools and gradually enlarges the island. But in the past, Kilauea has erupted violently — more often and for much longer periods than was previously thought. Now, researchers have learned that over the past 2,500 years, violent eruptive periods lasting centuries have alternated with periods of quiet flows. Once an explosive period has begun, conditions on the Big Island will be very different from those on which the past hazard assessment was based.

17 May 2012

Policy in the field: What's next for tax policies and the American clean energy economy?

It takes green to be green. Renewable energy technology requires dedicated investments, whether public or private, to succeed. The costs are steep, but many consider the cause worthwhile. After all, politicians on both sides tout having diverse array of energy resources as important for national and economic security. Nonetheless, in this tight economic climate, very little is safe. Now, Congress is starting to look at federal tax policies as they affect renewable energy development.

16 May 2012

Down to Earth With: The Geographers of the Solar System

Certain government officials have super cool titles: for example, Planetary Protection Officer (NASA's Catharine Conley) and Oceanographer of the Navy (David Titley). I think Geographer of the Solar System would be right up there. Alas, no one actually has that title, but in a little-known office of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) nestled in the hills above Flagstaff, Ariz., I met a dozen or so people who could reasonably qualify for it.

13 May 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Manganese

Manganese is a silver-colored metal resembling iron and often found in conjunction with iron. The earliest-known human use of manganese compounds was in the Stone Age, when early humans used manganese dioxide as pigments in cave paintings. In ancient Rome and Egypt, people started using it to color or remove the color from glass — a practice that continued to modern times. Today, manganese is predominantly used in metallurgical applications as an alloying addition, particularly in steel and cast iron production. Steel and cast iron together provide the largest market for manganese (historically 85 to 90 percent), but it is also alloyed with nonferrous metals such as aluminum and copper. Its importance to steel cannot be overstated, as almost all types of steel contain manganese and could not exist without it.

 
13 May 2012

Sumatran strike-slip earthquakes challenge seismologists

Events may shed light on regional tectonics, alter stress on nearby megathrust

After the magnitude-8.6 earthquake and magnitude-8.2 aftershock that struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia on April 11, scientists quickly identified why no tsunami followed either one: The earthquakes had occurred on strike-slip faults more than 400 kilometers offshore rather than on the Sunda megathrust fault that has been responsible for a series of large earthquakes since 2004. For all that can be explained, however, the earthquakes took most scientists by surprise. The combination of their size — they're the largest strike-slip earthquake ever recorded by most accounts — and their location is challenging the paradigm of strike-slip earthquakes and is raising new questions about the region’s tectonics.

11 May 2012

Earliest instrumental temperature record recovered in Italy

 

In the aftermath of the flood that struck Florence, Italy in 1966, records from the national library became scattered, including the earliest known instrumental temperature records collected by the Medicis in the 1600s. Recently, the temperature records were rediscovered and analyzed for the first time, giving researchers new insight into climate during the Little Ice Age. 

10 May 2012

Volcanoes sparked - and prolonged - the Little Ice Age

In the winter of 1780, New York Harbor froze, allowing people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island for the first time in recorded history. The deep freeze didn’t just occur in New York: For close to 500 years, beginning around the end of the Middle Ages and lasting into the early 19th century, unusually cold conditions blanketed much of the Northern Hemisphere.

08 May 2012

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