Archive for April, 2011

Integrated national-scale assessment of wildfire risk to human and ecological values

April 29, 2011 Comments off

Integrated national-scale assessment of wildfire risk to human and ecological values
Source: U.S. Forest Service

The spatial, temporal, and social dimensions of wildfire risk are challenging U.S. federal land management agencies to meet societal needs while maintaining the health of the lands they manage. In this paper we present a quantitative, geospatial wildfire risk assessment tool, developed in response to demands for improved risk-based decision frameworks. The methodology leverages off recent and significant advancements in wildfire simulation models and geospatial data acquisition and management. The tool is intended to facilitate monitoring trends in wildfire risk over time and to develop information useful in prioritizing fuels treatments and mitigation measures. Wildfire risk assessment requires analyzing the likelihood of wildfire by intensity level, and the magnitude of potential beneficial and negative effects to valued resources from fire at different intensity levels. This effort is designed to support strategic planning by systematically portraying how fire likelihood and intensity influence risk to social, economic, and ecological values at the national scale. We present results for the continental United States, analyze high risk areas by geographic region, and examine how risk evaluations changes under different assumptions with sensitivity analysis. We conclude by discussing further potential uses of the tool and research needs.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Transmitting Electricity in an Increasingly Complex Energy Market: A Legislative Update

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Transmitting Electricity in an Increasingly Complex Energy Market: A Legislative Update
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The United States’ transmission infrastructure will need significant upgrades in the coming 2 decades. While population growth and new consumer devices are increasing electricity demand, distributed energy and smart grid technologies are drastically changing how electricity is delivered. A recent study conducted by The Brattle Group estimates that, by 2030, industry needs to invest $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion in total infrastructure, including about $298 billion for transmission and $582 billion for distribution.

Transmission upgrades will need to account for the increasingly important role of renewable energy in many states, since the best renewable resources are often located far from cities where the electricity is needed. Siting, regional coordination, and cost-recovery challenges often challenge transmission development. Many states are working to address these issues through a variety of policies.

NOAA — Through a Fish’s Eye: The Status of Fish Habitats in the United States 2010

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Through a Fish’s Eye: The Status of Fish Habitats in the United States 2010
Source: NOAA Fisheries and the National Fish Habitat Board
This report is the result of a nationwide assessment of human effects on fish habitat in the rivers and estuaries of the United States, developed by the public/private partnership of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

We examine not only the threats to rivers, estuaries, and other aquatic habitats, but also the major sources of these threats, including pollution; urban development; agriculture; barriers to migration; and climate change. Some of the successful, ongoing efforts to address these threats to habitat are also featured within its pages.

This report provides an important picture of the challenges and opportunities facing fish and those engaged in fish habitat protection and restoration efforts. It also illustrates the need for strategic use of limited resources though partnerships—such as the Fish Habitat Partnerships established under the National Fish Habitat Action Plan—to identify the most effective use of funds and help the nation as a whole make progress in fish habitat conservation.

+ Full Report (PDF)

New From the GAO

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New GAO Reports and Correspondence
Source: Government Accountability Office
29 April 2011


1. Private Pensions: Some Key Features Lead to an Uneven Distribution of Benefits. GAO-11-333, March 30.  Highlights

2. VA Health Care: Need for More Transparency in New Resource Allocation Process and for Written Policies on Monitoring Resources. GAO-11-426, April 29.  Highlights


1. Management Report: Opportunities for Improvement in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Internal Controls and Accounting Procedures. GAO-11-398R, April 29.

Just Released — Digest of Education Statistics, 2010

April 29, 2011 Comments off

Digest of Education Statistics, 2010
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

The 46th in a series of publications initiated in 1962, the Digest’s primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest contains data on a variety of topics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons.

See also: Mini-Digest of Education Statistics, 2010

This publication is a pocket-sized compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from kindergarten through graduate school. The statistical highlights are excerpts from the Digest of Education of Statistics, 2010.

Improving Effective Surgical Delivery in Humanitarian Disasters: Lessons from Haiti

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Improving Effective Surgical Delivery in Humanitarian Disasters: Lessons from Haiti
Source: PLoS Medicine

The humanitarian response to major disasters is often marred by duplication and fragmentation, resulting in insufficient resources and services reaching the victims [1]. This is particularly critical when it comes to surgical care in mass disasters, both because the impact of surgical services on mortality requires a rapid response, and because surgical teams are often the most difficult to recruit.

In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) deployed the largest surgical team in the organization’s 40-year history: in 10 weeks, over 55,000 patients were treated and over 4,000 surgical interventions performed. The overall combined response was perhaps one of the largest non-conflict humanitarian surgical efforts in human history. However, the delivery of care was fraught with supply delays, a lack of appropriately experienced surgeons and anesthesiologists, and challenges in coordinating with other agencies—governmental, military, and non-governmental—whose priorities and motives did not always agree. We highlight some challenges from this recent experience and propose some ways forward to support an effective surgical humanitarian response to future major disasters.

Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command

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Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command
Source: National Defense University

The 71F Advantage

Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN, reflects on his tenure as Commander of United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). The first Admiral to command Southern Command, Admiral Stavridis broke with tradition from day one, discarding the customary military staff model and creating an innovative organization designed not solely to subdue adversaries, but, perhaps more importantly, to build durable and lasting partnerships with friends. As he has said often, “We are excellent at launching Tomahawk missiles; in this part of the world, we need to get better at launching ideas.”

From his unique perspective as commander, Stavridis uses his engagingly personal style to describe his vision for the command’s role in the Americas, making the most of limited resources to create goodwill and mutual respect, while taking care of the serious business of countering illegal drug trafficking, overcoming a dangerous insurgency in Colombia, and responding to humanitarian crises.

He also devotes chapters to USSOUTHCOM’s role in nurturing institutional respect for human rights among the military and security forces of the region, in advancing health security, and in supporting a new regional strategy to counter the increasing challenge of urban and transnational gang violence. Citing the hemisphere’s common geography, culture, economy, and history, Stavridis makes a passionate case for a common approach and strategy for defending our “shared home of the Americas” through an international, interagency, and private-public approach, all connected through coherent and effective strategic communication.

Available in a variety of ebook formats.