How to help cities improve planning for natural disasters

Many municipalities don’t have evacuation plans in place

How to help cities improve planning for natural disastersAs natural disasters like fire, extreme heatwaves and flooding are on the rise globally due to a changing climate, cities are looking at how they can be better prepared. According to Stephen Wong, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Alberta, many communities lack clear evacuation plans, and communication to residents is inconsistent across jurisdictions.…

Fort Mac wildfire smoke exposure affected RCMP officers’ lung function

Study suggests need for more consistent protective measures for those on the front lines of wildfires

Fort Mac wildfire smoke exposure affected RCMP officers’ lung functionA study on the health of RCMP officers who were deployed to the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016 has found that their airway function was compromised in the first three months after deployment. An analysis of health data from 218 officers revealed that the small airways in their lungs underwent structural changes after they were…

Eight worst wildfire weather years on record happened in the last decade

Communities need to be prepared for more to come

Eight worst wildfire weather years on record happened in the last decadeThe world’s eight most extreme wildfire weather years have occurred in the last decade, according to a new study that suggests extreme fire weather is being driven by a decrease in atmospheric humidity coupled with rising temperatures. “Extreme conditions drive the world’s fire activity,” said former University of Alberta wildfire expert Michael Flannigan, who conducted…

How the Western world failed in the face of the COVID-19 crisis

Bureaucracy was a significant obstacle to effective action

How the Western world failed in the face of the COVID-19 crisisThe COVID-19 pandemic has taken countries, governments and people by surprise. Most of us weren’t prepared to face this crisis. Most Western countries initially refused to panic and wanted to manage the situation like other illnesses such as the flu. But the outbreaks in hospitals and other medical facilities in most countries led to true…

The fight against future pandemics must be proactive

Instead of playing catch-up with the next virus, precision medicine lets us deal with it swiftly

The fight against future pandemics must be proactiveOn March 17, David Wishart, ’83 BSc (Hons), fielded a call from Medellin, Colombia. A company called Quantrack had a job for him. The novel COVID‑19 coronavirus had its hooks in the country. The Quantrack team figured that if Wishart, a professor of both biology and computing science, could make one of his famous heat…

Sensor detects when firefighters’ protective clothing is no longer safe

Textiles scientist works with industry to develop a faster, easier way to detect damage from heat, moisture and UV light

Sensor detects when firefighters’ protective clothing is no longer safeFirefighters risk their lives battling blazes, and ageing protective gear can put them at even greater risk. A University of Alberta researcher is working with industry to reduce that risk with a sensor that can detect the gradual breakdown in garments from exposure to heat, moisture and ultraviolet (UV) light. “These fibres age silently and…

Firefighters who fought Fort McMurray wildfire suffer persistent lung damage

With the risk of asthma more than doubling

Firefighters who fought Fort McMurray wildfire suffer persistent lung damageFirefighters at the centre of the battle against the massive Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 have persistent lung damage, according to new findings published by a University of Alberta occupational health research team. “Those who were dealing with burning organic matter were exposed to a barrage of small particles in the smoke, and the ones with the…

The lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 crisis management

We need to cut red tape so we can respond efficiently during times of crisis

The lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 crisis managementThe pandemic took many countries – governments and their citizens – by surprise. Many weren’t prepared to face such a crisis. Initially, most Western countries refused to panic and wanted to manage the situation like another flu epidemic. But the outbreaks in hospitals and other medical facilities in many countries led to chaos, forcing governments…

Our pandemic response seems like a guessing game

From suspect modelling to poor stockpiling to a lack of perspective on historic events, we failed to be ready for COVID-19

Our pandemic response seems like a guessing gameBy Deborah Prabhu and Allan Bonner Where will the COVID-19 pandemic fit into history? What will be the lessons learned, if any? Our guess is we’re learning how little we did to prepare and how much we’re guessing in response as we go along. We had three pandemics in the 20th century. The Spanish Flu…

U of A wildfire expert to head up national research network

New $5-million federal investment will bring together top wildfire scientists to help manage ecosystems, protect communities

U of A wildfire expert to head up national research networkThe University of Alberta will be home to a federal government network whose mission will be to make Canada more resilient to wildfire. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Canadian Wildfire Strategic Network, in which the federal government is investing $5 million, will bring the best minds in wildfire science together to train students,…
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