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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

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

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

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

Voices: Making tough decisions in a changing climate

World leaders are beginning to realize that planning for and adapting to our changing climate must become a priority of national governments. But what does that mean, in practical terms, for planning and policymaking, and for the day-to-day business of government? Do standard decision-making practices need to change? If so, how?

07 May 2012

IceGoat: The next generation

One source of young talent to carry the military’s proposals and technologies into the future will come from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where Lt. Cmdr. John Woods, an oceanography professor, specializes in sea-ice studies. Woods recently launched a polar science program, supported by the academy’s STEM Office, which he hopes will convey to students an understanding of sea-ice dynamics — how ice is thinning and what’s causing it to thin.

16 Apr 2012

Voices: Defending science: The link between creationism and climate change

What do creationists and climate change deniers have in common? Over the past few years, this riddle has been on our minds a lot at the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that has fought for more than a quarter-century to defend the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Now, we’re expanding to defend the teaching of climate change — and with it, science in general.

30 Apr 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

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