After a record 22 billion-dollar disasters in 2020, it's time to overhaul US disaster policy – here's how

NOAA released its list of climate and weather disasters that cost the nation more than $1 billion each. Like many climate and weather events this past year, it shattered the record.

Deb Niemeier, Clark Distinguished Chair and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland • conversation
Jan. 8, 2021 ~11 min

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After a record 22 billion-dollar disasters in 2020, it's time to make US disaster policy more effective and equitable – here's how

NOAA released its list of climate and weather disasters that cost the nation more than $1 billion each. Like many climate and weather events this past year, it shattered the record.

Deb Niemeier, Clark Distinguished Chair and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland • conversation
Jan. 8, 2021 ~11 min

policy construction floods hurricanes storms natural-disasters wildfires government disaster-risk fema building disaster-management land-use building-codes 2020

Overshadowed by COVID: the deadly extreme weather of 2020

Many storms, heatwaves, fires and droughts slipped under the radar this year.

Wilson Chan, PhD Researcher in Drought Risk, University of Reading • conversation
Dec. 30, 2020 ~7 min

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How curators transferred Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks' archives to escape wildfires

The curator at UC Merced describes the evacuation and shows a selection of photographs from the 110-year history of the park.

Emily Lin, Head of Digital Curation and Scholarship, UC Merced, University of California, Merced • conversation
Dec. 23, 2020 ~7 min

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Wildfire smoke changes dramatically as it ages, and that matters for downwind air quality – here's what we learned flying through smoke plumes

Thousands of chemical compounds in wildfire smoke are interacting with each other and sunlight as the smoke travels. For people downwind, it can become more toxic over time.

Brett B. Palm, Postdoctoral Researcher in Atmospheric Chemistry, University of Washington • conversation
Dec. 17, 2020 ~8 min

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Plastic pipes are polluting drinking water systems after wildfires - it's a risk in urban fires, too

A new study shows how toxic chemicals like benzene are leaching into water systems after nearby fires. The pipes don't have to burn – they just have to heat up.

Kristofer P. Isaacson, Ph.D. Student, Purdue University • conversation
Dec. 14, 2020 ~9 min

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Peatlands keep a lot of carbon out of Earth's atmosphere, but that could end with warming and development

Peat beds around the world hold huge quantities of carbon and keep it from warming the planet. But rising temperatures and over-use could turn them from a brake on climate change into an accelerant.

Julie Loisel, Assistant Professor of Geography, Texas A&M University • conversation
Dec. 7, 2020 ~9 min

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We’ll see more fire seasons like 2020 - here’s a strategy for managing our nation’s flammable landscapes

A fire scientists offers a six-point strategy for preventing wildfires and living safely in flammable landscapes.

Jennifer Balch, Associate Professor of Geography and Director, Earth Lab, University of Colorado Boulder • conversation
Nov. 12, 2020 ~8 min

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Wildfires force thousands to evacuate near Los Angeles: Here's how the 2020 Western fire season got so extreme

The 2020 wildfire season has shattered records across the West. It's a trend that's headed in a dangerous direction.

Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, Ph.D. Student, McGill University • conversation
Oct. 27, 2020 ~8 min

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Restoring California's forests to reduce wildfire risks will take time, billions of dollars and a broad commitment

Restoring western forests – thinning out small trees and dead wood – is an important strategy for reducing the risk of massive wildfires. But these projects aren't fast, easy or cheap.

Martha Conklin, Professor of Engineering, University of California, Merced • conversation
Oct. 13, 2020 ~10 min

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