• PerspectiveBans on Foreign Equipment in U.S. Critical Infrastructure

    One executive order does not a trend make, but maybe two do. On May 1, President Trump issued an executive order banning the acquisition, importation, transfer or installation of any bulk electric power system equipment where the secretary of energy has determined, first, that the equipment was manufactured by a company controlled by—or subject to the jurisdiction of—a foreign adversary and, second, that the transaction poses an undue risk to the U.S. bulk-power system, economy or national security. Jim Dempsey writes “The order’s issuance signals that the administration’s efforts to purge from the nation’s telecommunications network any equipment made in China may represent a new approach to critical infrastructure in general.”

  • Coastal challengesHarnessing Wave Power to Rebuild Islands

    Many island nations, including the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, are facing an existential threat as a result of a rising sea level induced by global climate change. Researchers are testing ways of harnessing nature’s own forces to help maintain and rebuild threatened islands and coastlines.

  • Coastal challengesAs Sea Levels Rise, Are We Ready to Live Behind Giant Walls?

    By Hannah Cloke

    Of all the many varied impacts in a warming planet, sea level rise is one of the most straightforward to predict because sea water expands as it warms and because extra water is flowing from melting glaciers and ice sheets. Given the costs of flooded coastal cities, European Commission scientists suggest that it would save money in the long run to build improved sea defenses around 70% of the continent’s coastline. Do we really want to live in a world in which we all live behind huge walls? Is this the only way to adapt?

  • TsunamisPark-Like Tsunami Defenses: Sustainable Alternative to Towering Seawalls

    In tsunami preparedness, it turns out there can be strength in beauty. Rows of green hills strategically arranged along coastlines can help to fend off destruction from tsunamis while preserving ocean views and access to the shore. For some communities, they may offer a better option than towering seawalls.

  • Coastal challengesSea Level Could Rise More than 1 Meter by 2100 if Emission Targets Are Not Met

    Global mean sea-level rise could exceed 1 meter by 2100 and 5 meters by 2300 with unchecked emissions, a survey among 100 leading international experts finds. The risk assessment is based on the increasing body of knowledge of the systems involved – while the scientists highlight the remaining uncertainties, they say it is clear now that previous sea-level rise estimates have been too low.

  • Urban designCities Will Endure, but Urban Design Must Adapt to Coronavirus Risks and Fears

    The long-term impacts of coronavirus on our cities are difficult to predict, but one thing is certain: cities won’t die. Diseases have been hugely influential in shaping our cities, history showsCities represent continuity regardless of crises – they endure, adapt and grow. Silvia Tavares and Nicholas Stevens write in The Conversation that urban designers and planners have a long-term role in ensuring urban life is healthy. To fight infectious diseases, cities need well-ventilated urban spaces with good access to sunlight. The design of these spaces, and public open spaces in particular, promotes different levels of sociability. Some spaces congregate community and are highly social. Others may act as urban retreats where people seek peace with their coffee and book. How urban spaces perform during disease outbreaks now also demands our close attention.

  • Waterfront challengesWaterfront Development Added Billions to Property Values Exposed to Hurricane Florence

    By Rebecca Fowler

    Rapid development in flood-prone zones during recent decades helped boost the amount of property exposed to 2018’s devastating Hurricane Florence substantially, a new study says. It estimates that the value of property in North Carolina and South Carolina potentially exposed to flooding at $52 billion—$42 billion more than at the start of the century (in 2018 dollars). While much development took place between 1950 and 2000, financial risk rose quickly afterward because much of it clustered along coastlines and adjacent to rivers and lakes, where buildings were more vulnerable to flooding.

  • China syndromeU.K.: Parliamentary Opposition to Huawei’s 5G Deal Growing Significantly

    Support in the British Parliament for allowing Huawei a role in Britain’s 5G network is collapsing. In January, the U.K. government granted Huawei approval to supply 5G technologies for parts of the U.K. network – with some restrictions, which critics of the deal say are meaningless. The government’s plan requires an act of Parliament to take legal effect, but the opposition to the deal among members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has been steadily growing, especially in light of China’s lack of transparency regarding the coronavirus epidemic. Observers now say that the hardening of opposition to the deal among rank-and-file Conservative MPs will make it difficult — if not impossible — to get the legislation passed.

  • Coastal challengesNew Flood Damage Framework to Help Planners Prepare for Sea-Level Rise

    Scientists agree that sea levels will continue to rise this century, but projections beyond 2050 are much more uncertain regarding exactly how much higher ocean levels will be by 2100. While actions to protect against 2050 sea-level rise have a secure scientific basis, this range in late-century estimates makes it difficult for coastal communities to plan their long-term adaptation strategies.

  • Oil spillsDeepwater Horizon Oil Spill 10 Years On: What Did Scientists Learn?

    Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87 days, the Deepwater Horizon well released an estimated 168 million gallons of oil and 45 million gallons of natural gas into the ocean, making it the largest accidental marine spill in history.

  • Storm surgesImproving Accuracy of Storm Surge Analysis

    Accurately predicting how many people are at risk due to sea level rise and storm surges has always challenged scientists, but a new method is improving models that account for the impact of these natural occurrences. A new model developed by international team of scientists can be used to better understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

  • PerspectiveWhat to Make of New U.S. Actions Against Foreign Telecoms

    Recent moves by the administration mark another concrete step in the U.S. campaign to limit the digital and economic influence of Chinese telecommunications companies both within and outside U.S. borders. Justin Sherman writes that “The moves also demonstrate that current American efforts to limit the influence of the Chinese telecommunications sector are much broader than just the well-publicized targeting of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.”

  • Climate crisisExtreme Coastal Flooding in the U.S. Expected to Rise

    Extreme flooding events in some U.S. coastal areas could double every five years if sea levels continue to rise as expected, a new study says. Today’s “once-in-a-lifetime” extreme water levels — which are currently reached once every fifty years — may be exceeded daily along most of the U.S. coastline. Associated coastal hazards, such as beach and cliff erosion, will likely accelerate in concert with the increased risk of flooding, suggest the authors.

  • CybersecurityBolstering Cybersecurity for Systems Linking Solar Power to Grid

    DOE has awarded researchers $3.6 million to advance technologies that integrate solar power systems to the national power grid. “As U.S. energy policy shifts toward more diverse sources, particularly solar, the Energy Department understands the critical importance of protecting these systems and technologies,” said Alan Mantooth, U Arkansas Professor of electrical engineering and principal investigator for the project.

  • DisastersUnderstanding the Hidden Impact of Disasters

    The September 2017 Hurricane Maria killed people, demolished homes, and destroyed infrastructure. But Maria also damaged the manufacturing plants of a major IV bag maker, plunging hospitals into supply shortage that didn’t ripple across the mainland United States until six months after the hurricane made landfall. Given the highly integrated nature of supply chains in the U.S., natural and man-made disasters can have unanticipated consequences that are every bit as serious as the immediate damage of the event itself.