Understanding and predicting snow behaviour

Scientists are working to better analyze the mechanical properties of snow. The project has the goal to develop a computer model that can help solving typical snow-related engineering problems. The model could, for example, be used to anticipate avalanches, to determine the load on buildings caused by snow or calculate the traction of vehicles on snow-covered surfaces by predicting the behaviour of snow. 

Floods and hurricanes predicted with social media

Social media can warn us about hurricanes, storms and floods before they happen, according to new research. Key words and photos on social media can signal developing risks – like water levels rising before a flood, say investigators. Found certain words – such as river, water and landscape - take on distinct meaning of forecast and warning during time periods leading to extreme weather events. Words can be used as ‘social sensors’, to create accurate early warning system for extreme weather, alongside physical sensors, the researchers conclude.

Gardening worms, climate change undermine natural coastal protection

Dikes could be lower if they are protected against the waves by grassy marshes. But the protective salt marsh grass is struggling, not only due to increasingly stronger waves, but also to the superfood diet of ragworms. These sophisticated gardeners turn inedible, tough grass seeds into succulent, nutritious sprouts in their burrows. These cultivation techniques prevent many seeds from growing into salt marsh vegetation, thus undermining the use of salt marshes for 'natural' coastal protection.

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

New research reveals a large part of the heavily urbanized area of Honolulu and Waikiki, Hawai'i is at risk of groundwater inundation--flooding that occurs as groundwater is lifted above the ground surface due to sea level rise. A newly-developed computer model simulates future flood scenarios in the urban core as sea level rises three feet, as is projected for this century under certain climate change scenarios.

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