Natural Disasters

Natural disasters do not destroy buildings evenly. By studying which fall and which are left standing, engineers can develop new strategies for the future.

When a Natural Disaster Hits, Structural Engineers Learn From the Destruction

StEER engineers assess why some buildings survive hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, and why others do not

Researchers with the Kivi Kuaka project are tagging a variety of Pacific birds, hoping they will reveal differences in their capacity to detect and respond to dangerous storms and tsunamis.

Can Birds Tip Us Off to Natural Disasters?

Researchers think birds can hear hurricanes and tsunamis—a sense they’re hoping to tap into to develop a bird-based early warning system

Two original slave cabins, as well as the 1790 Big House, 1790 barn and 19th-century kitchen, survived the storm. But Ida destroyed at least several structures on the historic plantation.

Hurricane Ida Damages Whitney Plantation, Only Louisiana Museum to Focus on the Enslaved

The historic site will remain closed indefinitely as staff assess the destruction and make repairs

Smithsonian Voices

How the Smithsonian Collected Artifacts That Told the Story of Hurricane Katrina

Buildings in New Orleans' historic French Quarter, pictured here, sustained damage when Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday.

Hurricane Ida Destroys New Orleans Jazz Landmark Dubbed Louis Armstrong's 'Second Home'

The historic Karnofsky Tailor Shop and Residence collapsed on Sunday after water pooled on its roof

Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana's southeastern coast at 11:55 am eastern on Sunday.

Hurricane Ida Slams Louisiana Coast on the 16th Anniversary of Katrina

The Category 4 hurricane made landfall in southeastern Louisiana midday Sunday, causing extensive flooding and power outages

This Aztec pictogram depicts warriors drowning as a temple burns in the background. New research links the scene to a 1507 earthquake.

Aztec Pictograms Are the First Written Records of Earthquakes in the Americas

New analysis of the 16th-century "Codex Telleriano-Remensis" reveals 12 references to the natural disasters

Pocket watch with engraved, gold-plated case found on the body of postal clerk John Starr March. The hands point to 1:27, around when the Titanic sank on the morning of April 15, 1912.

What a Watch Tells Us About the Titanic's Final Hours

The handheld item, belonging to an American crew member, stopped minutes before the ship sank

The 6-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide pumpkin was installed on Japan's Naoshima island in 1994.

Typhoon Sweeps Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Sculpture Into the Sea

Experts on Japan's Naoshima island recovered the damaged artwork and are attempting to restore it

The first verse of the Book of Amos states that the events the narrator plans to relay took place “two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah.”

Cool Finds

Researchers Find Physical Evidence of Earthquake Described in Old Testament

Excavations in Jerusalem revealed damage dating to the eighth century B.C.E., when the natural disaster reportedly took place

The Parthenon, the temple that sits atop Athens' Acropolis, seen surrounded by smoke on August 4

Ancient Olympics' Birthplace Saved as Fires Rage Across Southern Europe

A massive heatwave sparked blazes along the Mediterranean, threatening cultural heritage sites and forcing mass evacuations

This map shows how land and ocean temperatures have changed from June 2021 relative to the 1951-1980 base period. High values (darker red colors) indicate temperatures that are higher than those in the base period. The number in the top right is an estimate of the global mean temperature increase. All temperatures are in Celsius.

New Research

Study Measuring Earth's Vital Signs Warns of Climate Tipping Points

The authors say tropical coral reefs, the Amazon rainforest, and the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets may have passed dangerous tipping points

A map from NOAA showing parts of the country that are under heat advisory as of July 27 (orange), excessive heat watch (brown) and excessive heat warning (fuchsia). The shaded areas of the map with heat related advisories or warnings encompass more than 30 million people.

'Heat Dome' Descends on Central United States

Forecasts suggest more than 30 million people could see temperatures topping 100 degrees this week

The aftermath of floods that ravaged the village of Schuld in western Germany, seen on July 16, 2021. The floods killed at least 165 people across western Germany and neighboring countries.

Deadly Floods Rip Apart Western Germany, Claiming at Least 165 Lives

Nearly two months-worth of rain fell in just 24 hours, leading to flash floods that tore through buildings

Neurotoxins secreted by the algae Karenia brevis kill marine life including fish, dolphins and manatees

More Than 600 Tons of Dead Sea Life Wash Up on Florida Coast Amid Red Tide

Crews cleaned up nine tons of dead fish in just 24 hours after Tropical Storm Elsa pushed the fish toward shore

Hurricane Elsa before downgrading to a tropical storm near Barbados

Hurricane Elsa's Early Arrival Could Mean a Busier-Than-Usual Storm Season in the Atlantic

Following Elsa, the fifth hurricane so far, experts now forecast at least 20 named tropical storms and nine named hurricanes in total

Rain, waves, and seeping groundwater can destabilize seaside bluffs, making them prone to collapse.

The Science of Predicting When Bluffs in Southern California Will Collapse

Researchers are using lidar to better understand the erosional forces that cause oceanfront cliffs to crumble

An illustration depicting some of the dinosaurs that roamed the Earth during the Late Cretaceous.

New Research

Dinosaurs May Have Been Declining Before the Asteroid Struck Earth

The researchers say the cataclysmic impact may have simply been the final nail in the dinos’ coffin

The Sound of Our Resurrection Is Stronger Than the Silence of Death is what McCormick and Calhoun call their picture of A Chosen Few Brass Band, photographed in the city’s Treme neighborhood in the 1980s.

Photographs Salvaged From Hurricane Katrina Recall Life in New Orleans

Making art out of disaster, two photographers reexamine these affectionate portraits of life in the Crescent City

An artist’s illustration shows an asteroid hitting Earth. Large impactors hit the planet every one to three million years.

New Research of Impact Crater Blows Away Previous Estimates of Its Age

Scientists say the Boltysh crater in Ukraine formed well after the impact in Mexico that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct