Natural Disasters

Over 200 Years of Hurricane Data Recorded in Trees, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 18, 2006   View Article

A chemical signature of just about every hurricane to roar across southern Georgia during the past 220 years is preserved in the region’s longleaf pine trees, according to a new study.

Further detective work should extend the record for the southeastern United States back another 400 years, says Claudia Mora, study co-author and a geochemist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Global Warming Link to Hurricane Intensity Questioned

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 28, 2006   View Article

An expert with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is questioning the connection between climate change and the appearance of more intense hurricanes in recent years.

Historical data on hurricanes is too crude to determine long-term trends in intensity, says Christopher Landsea, a science and operations officer with NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

Earthquake Proof Pipelines Tested in the Lab

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 20, 2006   View Article

The nightmare: A magnitude 6.7 earthquake rocks the neighborhood. Sidewalks buckle. Brick houses crumble. A water main snaps and floods the street.

And then, boom! A nearby house is engulfed in a ball of flames when its natural gas line ruptures.

Wailing sirens mute barking dogs and shrieking children, but with no water to douse the flames, the fire rages on unchecked.

Thomas O’Rourke, an engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, is working to ensure this scenario never becomes reality.

Major Earthquake Due to Hit Southern California, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 21, 2006   View Article

Get ready for the Big One.

About 300 years of pent-up stress in southern California is sufficient to trigger a catastrophic earthquake on the San Andreas Fault system, according to a new study.

Hurricane Plane Flies Into Storms to Sharpen Forecasts

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 12, 2006   View Article

High-altitude pilot David Wright took two passes over the eye of Hurricane Emily last July, and then caution took hold.

“The turbulence became pretty significant,” Wright said. “I decided the better part of valor was to fly in a box pattern the remainder of the night.”

Giant Rock Growing in Mt. St. Helens Crater

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 9, 2006   View Article

A massive fin-shaped slab of hot rock has recently been seen growing in the crater of Washington State’s Mount St. Helens.

The feature is the seventh such structure to rise in the volcano’s crater since it began slowly erupting in October 2004, say scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Cascade Volcano Observatory.

Clear skies following a long, cloudy, wet winter in the U.S. Pacific Northwest recently lifted the veil on this latest formation.

U.S. Not Ready for Fast Spreading Flu, Study Finds

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 3, 2006   View Article

Scientists have used a sophisticated computer model to predict how a deadly flu virus might spread through the United States, and how the disease might respond to efforts to contain it.

The results suggest that the U.S. is prepared to contain a virus with low transmissibility but perhaps not one that spreads more quickly.

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