Climate Change: Energy Infrastructure Risks and Adaptation Efforts

images[2]According to the NRC and the USGCRP, changes in the earth’s climate–including higher temperatures, changes in precipitation, rising sea levels, and increases in the severity and frequency of severe weather events–are under way and expected to grow more severe over time. These impacts present significant risks to the nation’s energy infrastructure. Economic losses arising from weather-related events–including floods, droughts, and storms–have been large and are increasing, according to USGCRP. Adaptation–an adjustment to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change–is a risk-management strategy to help protect vulnerable sectors and communities that might be affected by climate change. GAO was asked to examine the vulnerability of the nation’s energy infrastructure to climate change impacts. This report examines: (1) what is known about potential impacts of climate change on U.S. energy infrastructure; (2) measures that can reduce climate-related risks and adapt energy infrastructure to climate change; and (3) the role of the federal government in adapting energy infrastructure and adaptation steps selected federal entities have taken. GAO reviewed climate change assessments; analyzed relevant studies and agency documents; and interviewed federal agency officials and industry stakeholders, including energy companies at four sites that have implemented adaptive measures. Personal Author N/A
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Response of Lower Atmospheric Ozone to ENSO in Aura Measurements and a Chemistry-Climate Simulation

images[7]The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant mode of tropical variability on interannual time scales. ENSO appears to extend its influence into the chemical composition of the tropical troposphere. Recent work has revealed an ENSO-induced wave-1 anomaly in observed tropical tropospheric column ozone. This results in a dipole over the western and eastern tropical Pacific, whereby differencing the two regions produces an ozone anomaly with an extremely high correlation to the Nino 3.4 Index. We have successfully reproduced this feature using the Goddard Earth Observing System Version 5 (GEOS-5) general circulation model coupled to a comprehensive stratospheric and tropospheric chemical mechanism forced with observed sea surface temperatures over the past 25 years. An examination of the modeled ozone field reveals the vertical contributions of tropospheric ozone to the column over the western and eastern Pacific region. We will show composition sensitivity in observations from NASA’s Aura satellite Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) and the Tropospheric Emissions Spectrometer (TES) and a simulation to provide insight into the vertical structure of these ENSO-induced ozone changes. The ozone changes due to the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) in the extra-polar upper troposphere and lower stratosphere in MLS measurements will also be discussed.
Personal Author A. R. Douglass D. W. Waugh J. E. Nielsen J. M. Rodriquez J. R. Ziemke L. D. Oman
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Estimation of Age at Death Using Cortical Bone Histomorphometry

images[2]Estimating the age at death in the adult skeleton is problematic owing to the biological variability in age indictors and the differential skeletal response to environmental factors over an individual.s life. It is particularly difficult to accurately estimate age for individuals over 50 years of age. Thus, it is becoming increasingly important for anthropologists to improve age estimates through the use of multiple age indicators and various modalities of assessment (e.g., macroscopic and microscopic). Previously developed histological methods of age estimation using the femur demonstrate significant methodological issues that affect their reliability and accuracy. This research evaluates histological age estimation using the anterior femur and explores the biological limitations of bone turnover as an age indicator.
Personal Author C. Crowder
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Critical Needs and Gaps in Understanding Prevention, Amelioration, and Resolution of Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: The Short-Term and Long-Term Outcomes: Workshop Report.

images[5]Tick-borne diseases (TBDs) represent some of the worlds most rapidly expanding arthropod-borne infectious diseases, yet significant gaps remain in our understanding and knowledge about them. In the United States, many tick-borne diseases such as anaplasmosis and the borrelioses, ehrlichioses, and rickettsioses are on the rise. Reasons include shifts in the prevalence and distribution of animal reservoirs and tick vectors as well as the movement of humans into areas where the animal hosts and tick populations are abundant. From a public health standpoint, the burden of disease is of growing concern, as is the incomplete understanding of the complex interactions of ticks, hosts, pathogens, and habitats that underlie changing disease patterns and the potential for climate change to exacerbate these trends.
Personal Author N/A
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Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development. A Workshop Summary. Held on September 23, 2013

imagesCA4CU58BOn September 23, 2013, the CSR held a one-day workshop on the technical challenges in antibiotic discovery and development that explored the current state of antibiotic discovery, examined the technology available to facilitate development, discussed the technical challenges present, identified novel approaches to antibiotic discovery, and discussed the incentives and disincentives industry faces in antibiotic development. The workshop featured both formal presentations and panel discussions among participants from academia, industry, and federal research agencies. The workshop program consisted of three themes: The challenges and approaches in overcoming antibiotic resistance; The challenges and approaches in screening for new chemical entities with antibiotic properties; and The challenges and approaches in delivering antibiotics to their intended site of action, particularly with regard to surmounting biophysical barriers.
Personal Author N/A
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Factors Affecting Public-Supply-Well Vulnerability to Contamination: Understanding Observed Water Quality and Anticipating Future Water Quality

imagesCAF37L45As part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program, a study was conducted from 2001 to 2011 to shed light on factors that affect the vulnerability of water from public-supply wells* to contamination. The study was designed as a follow-up to earlier NAWQA studies that found mixtures of contaminants at low concentrations in groundwater near the water table in urban areas across the Nation and, less frequently, in deeper groundwater typically used for public supply. Although contaminants were less frequently detected in public-supply wells than in shallower monitoring wells, a separate study showed that contaminant concentrations were greater than drinking-water standards or other human health benchmarks in about 22 percent of public-supply-well samples.
Personal Author M. A. Thomas M. L. Jagucki S. M. Eberts
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Targeted Nanoparticles for Kidney Cancer Therapy

images[2]The objective of this proposal is to test targeted carbon nanotubes for their ability to thermally ablate kidney cancer. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are efficient transducers of near-infrared radiation (NIR) for laser-induced thermal therapy of kidney cancer in mouse models. Our goal is to improve the anti-tumor efficacy of CNTs by designing them to target cancer cells and surrounding endothelial cells following systemic administration. Specifically, we will develop carbon nanotubes that bind to uPAR, a surface receptor overexpressed in kidney cancers and supporting endothelium. We will use D5, a peptide designed in the laboratory, as the targeting ligand. In the past year, we developed a new chemical approach to conjugating the targeting peptide to nanotubes. We demonstrated that the peptide is cytotoxic to kidney cancer cells. We also showed that the combination of nanotubes and NIR is effective in inhibiting the clonogenic survival of cultured kidney cancer cells. Next year, we will assess the flow of nanotubes in the vasculature and their ability to accumulate and exert an anti-tumor effect in a mouse tumor model. This grant is a mentor/predoctoral award that also focuses on training of a predoctoral candidate. The predoctoral fellow carried out the experiments described in this progress report, attended the national AACR cancer meeting, presented his work in seminars, and was co-first author on an article on nanotubes as thermal ablation agents.
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Personal Author S. V. Torti