Fall 2017: Natural Hazards and Disasters

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Natural Hazards and Disasters

Courses: OEAS 250N (CRN 18872); three credits; and OEAS 250N (CRN 18879), 1 Credit
Course title: Natural Hazards and Disasters
Instructor: Dr. Hans-Peter Plag
Term: Fall 2017, August 28 - December 12, 2017
Time: Mondays and Wednesday, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM and Wednesday, 2:00 PM -2:55 PM
Location: DRGS 2106
Office Hours: On request.

Class Pages

Note [2017/12/06] IMPORTANT - CHANGE OF FINAL EXAM: Based on the feedback I received from you, we will have two dates for the final exam:
Monday, December 11, 2017, 3:00 PM; room: DIEHN 1104
Friday, December 15, 2017, 3:45 PM; room: DRGS 2106.

Note [2017/11/26] IMPORTANT - FINAL EXAM: The date and time for the final exam assigned to our class is Friday, December 15, 2017 in the time slot 3:45-6:45 PM. Please, come to the class room on December 15, 2017 at 3:45 PM sharp. The time allocate to the final exam is 1:30 hours (3:45-5:15 PM).

Note [2017/11/06] The guidelines for case study paper 3 (Hydro-meteorological hazard) are now available. More information on the case study is available for Class on November 13, 2017. The (final) case study paper is due on November 21, 2017 and will be discussed in the Class 25 on November 29, 2017.

Note [2017/11/06] The answers for Question Set 4 are due on November 24, 2017 and the questions will be discussed in the lab on November 29, 2017. See Class 25 for details.

Note [2017/11/01] In Class 18 on November 1, 2017, extra exercises on hydrometerological hazards (floods) was introduced. The exercise has 100 mandatory points and 70 additional extra points. The exercise is due on November 14, 2017.

Note [2017/11/01] The deadline for the final case study 2 paper has been moved to Monday, November 6, 2017 at 6:00 PM.

Note [2017/10/18] The guidelines for case study paper 2 (Geohazard) are now available. More information on the case study is available for Class (10/25/2017).

Note [2017/10/04] The deadline for the final case study 1 paper has been moved to Monday, October 9, 2017 at 6:00 PM.

Note [2017/09/20] A change has been made concerning case study paper 1. Now a comprehensive close-to-final draft is due on September 27, 2017 at 6:00 PM. Late submission will result in point deductions. Comments on the draft will be made available asap. A revised final version has to be submitted on October 6, 2017 at 6:00 PM. Again, late submission will result in point deductions.

Note [2017/09/17] The guidelines for case study paper 1 (Extraterrestrial Hazard) are now available. More information on the case study is available for Class (09/27/2017).

Contents

*: The asterisk indicates lab hours. Q: There are questions to be discussed during the lab hour; for these questions, written answers are due two days before the lab. CS: the case study papers will be discussed in the lab hour. Case study papers are due between 5 and 8 days before the lab. (1): Lab hour and/or class are available to research and write/work on the case study paper.

  1. Class (08/28/2017) Introduction to the Course
  2. Class (08/30/2017) * Lab: Risk Concept; Class: Charaterizing Hazards
  3. Class (09/06/2017) * Q1 Lab: Risk assessmenet; Class: Global Threats and observing hazards
  4. Class (09/11/2017) Observing Hazards
  5. Class (09/13/2017) * Lab; Measuring small changes; Class: Extraterrestrial hazards
  6. Class (09/18/2017) Geohazards
  7. Class (09/20/2017) * Q2 Lab: Disaster risk management, geeting data, assessing extraterrestrial hazards; Class: Earthquakes
  8. Class (09/25/2017) Disasters triggered by earthquakes
  9. Class (09/27/2017) * (1) Lab+Class: Develop Case Study 1 (Extraterrestrial hazards)
  10. Class (10/02/2017) Tsunamis
  11. Class (10/04/2017) * CS (draft) Lab: Discussion Case Study 1; Class: Volcanoes
  12. Class (10/11/2017) * Extra Exercise Lab: Earthquake epicenter; Class: Volcano eruptions continued
  13. Class (10/16/2017) Class: Midterm exam preparation: Specific examples of an extraterrestrial hazard, an earthquakes, and a volcanic eruption - and large volcanic eruptions
  14. Class (10/18/2017) * Q3 Lab: Geohazards; Class: Landslides and ground instabilities
  15. Class (10/23/2017) (Mid Term Exam)
  16. Class (10/25/2017) * (1) Lab and Class: Develop Case Study 2 (Geohazards)
  17. Class (10/30/2017) Floods
  18. Class (11/01/2017) * CS (draft), Lab: Discussion Case Study 2, Extra Exercise Hydrometerological Hazards; Class: Floods continued
  19. Class (11/06/2017) Hurricanes
  20. Class (11/08/2017) * Laboratory: Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclones; Class topic: Hurricanes continued; Tornadoes
  21. Class (11/13/2017) (1) Class Topic: Develop the case study 3 paper (Hydrometeorological Hazard)
  22. Class (11/15/2017) Laboratory: Tornadoes; Class topic: Tornadoes continued, Ice storms and Meteo-Tsunamis
  23. Class (11/20/2017) (1) Continue to develop Case Study 3
  24. Class (11/27/2017) Class Topic: Recent and Future Climate Change
  25. Class (11/29/2017) * Q4, CS (final), Laboratory: Question Set 4 and Case Study 3 Discussion (Hydrometeorological Hazard); Class: Climate Change Impacts
  26. Class (12/04/2017) Class Topic: Final exam preparation and Climate Change Impacts continued
  27. Class (12/06/2017) * Q5, Laboratory: Question Set 5; Class topic: Land use, biological hazards, and extinction
  28. Class (12/15/2017 - 3:45) (Final Exam)

A number of publications will be available on the workspace as PDF for use in the class.


Class 1 (08/28/2017) Class Topic: Introduction to the Course

Class 1 Slides

Class: Introduction to the Course

An overview of the course contents will be given. The course contents start by introducing the concept of the Earth's life-support system (ELSS) and a definition of hazards, disasters, and risk within this context. It is important to distingush between hazardous events and the resulting disasters, and to realize the relevance of the processes that link hazards and disasters. The societal goal of reducing disaster risks requires a deep understanding of the processes that lead to a disaster as a consequence of a hazardous event. The boundary between non-human and human hazards is blured and increasingly, non-human hazards are modified or amplified by human action. Hazards in the Earth system have a wide range of origins. The course will introduce most of the hazards and discuss how the knowledge of hazards and processes can be used to improve disaster risk management and governance.

Practicalities including requirements, work skills, reading material, grading, and grade forgiveness policy will be reviewed, and the course web page will be introduced.

The class will also introduce core concepts and terminology, including the ELSS, sustainability, hazards, disasters, and risk. International efforts to address disaster risks including the Sendai Framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be briefly mentioned.

Class Reading List

There are not readings for this class.

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Class 2 (08/30/2017): Laboratory: Risk Concepts; Class: Characterizing Hazards

Class 2 Slides

Laboratory: Risk Concepts

Risk can be expressed as the product of hazard probability, vulnerability and value of exposed assets. The “Probability Density Function” (PDF) of a hazard (e.g., a volcano eruption) provides an information on the likelyhood of an event of a particular magnitude to occur in a given time interval.

Lab Reading List

Wikipedia, n.d., Probability density function. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probability_density_function.

Wikipedia, n.d.,Probability distribution. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probability_distribution.

Class: Characterizing Hazards

For risk assessments, it is fundamental to understand how likely the occurence of a hazardous event of a certain type and magnitude is. A widely accepted concept for the characterization of a hazard is the PDF. The PDF for different hazard types vary widely. Particularly the low-probability end of the hazard spectrum can show very wide variations for different hazards. The potential impact of a hazard as function of its recurrence frequency or time is also helpful for the characterization of a hazard, although the actual impact on communities depends on where the hazard occures in space (and sometimes time) relative to the exposed community. Low-probability, high-impact events, particularly those that are outside our normal experience, are difficult to assess and prepare for, leading to a wide range of views on the risk (see class 3 for more details on the last point).

Class Reading List

World Economic Forum, 2017. Global Risk Report 2017. World Economic Forum, Geneva. Available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GRR17_Report_web.pdf.

Cotton-Barratt, O., Farquhar, S., Halstead, J., Schubert, S., Snyder-Beattie, A., 2016. Global Catastrophic Risks 2016. Global Challenge Foundation and Global Priorities Project. Available at http://globalprioritiesproject.org/2016/04/global-catastrophic-risks-2016/.

Mecklin, J. (ed.), 2017. It is two and a half minute to midnight - 2017 Doomsday Clock Statement. Science and Security Board. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. http://thebulletin.org/sites/default/files/Final%202017%20Clock%20Statement.pdf

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Class 3 (09/06/2017): Laboratory: Risk assessment; Class Topic: Global Threats and Observing Hazards

Class 3 Slides

Laboratory: Risk Assessment

In this lab, we will review terms relevant for disaster risk assessments and consider the approach based on the frequency of extreme events. We will also discuss major global risks.

Question Set 1 for You

Please, prepare written answers to the questions below and submit these not later than 09/05/2017, 12:00 PM (noon) by e-mail to me. These written answers will be discussed in the laboratory class. I recommend that you discuss the questions in small groups and then write your own individual answers. If you do discuss the question in a group, I would appreciate if you could state the names of those you discussed the questions with. Note that this time I gave you four questions of different type, which will help me to assess the level of all of you and then adjust future questions accordingly.

In your written answers, please do include the text of the question before each answer.

  1. In your own words, describe how the term risk is defined in different disciplines/fields, and what definition we are using in the class. Please, include references (others than what is on the class slides) for the definitions you provide.
  2. How do we define a hazard and a disaster in the context of the class, and what is the connection between a hazard and a disaster? Give an example of a hazard and the resulting disaster and describe the connection.
  3. Explain the concept of a 100-year or 500-year event and use the Poisson Distribution to compute the probability that we have one or more of a 100-year or a 500-year event in a century. Note that how you answer this question will let me know whether I need to invest more time with you to explain the distribution. I have updated the slides of class 2 to provide more details on how to use the equation for the Poisson equation.
  4. Based on the reading list for class 2, comment on the major threats humanity is exposed to. In your assessment, are non-human threats more severe than human-caused threats? Again, your answer to this question will help me to assess at what level future questions should be.

Citations and Reference should follow the documentation style defined by the Council of Scientific Editors, known as the CSE style. See SSF-Guide or the WISC page for more information on the CSE style.

Lab Reading List

See the reading list for class 2.

Class 3: Global Threats and Observing Hazards

Rare extreme events pose particular challenges for risk assessment and risk governance: they often are outside of past experience, and their likelihood is not well known or not known at all. Likewise, threats resulting from slow trends and developing new situations are difficult to assess. A number of groups and institutions are engaged in the assessment of global threats with the goal to inform leaders so that they can make better decsions. It is noted that the threat assessments keep changing over time a lot indicating both the uncertainty in the assessment as well as the development of new threats.

The understanding of hazards originating in the planetary system and the disasters caused by these hazards hinges on observations and data. Examples of of observing systems illustrate the important of these system for society and research.

Class Reading List

For readings on global threats, see reading list of class 2.

Solomon, S. C. and the Solid Earth Science Working Group, 2002. Living on a Restless Planet. NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Ca, USA. pdf.

Additional Recommended Reading

NRC, 2004. Review of NASA's Solid-Earth Science Strategy. National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, Committee to Review NASA's Solid-Earth Science Strat egy; Board on Earth Sciences and Resources; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Research Council. The National Academic Press. SBN 978-0-309-09252-4, DOI 10.17226/11084. pdf.

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Class 4 (09/11/2017): Class Topic: Observing Hazards

Class 4 Slides

Class 4 Observing Hazards

Disaster risk governance can be considered as having four phases from preparedness, early warning, response to recovery. Very often, small changes are indicative of developing hazards and measuring these changes with high accuracy is a prerequisite for understanding hazards, detecting precoursors, assessing impacts, and informing the recovery after an event. Earth observations are crucial for all four phases. Here, Earth observation is understood in a comprehensive way and comprises all observations of the human and non-human environment independent of how an observation was made and collected. Thus, it includes, among others, observations made with satellite-based sessors, air or ship-borne sensors, and fixed or moving sensors on the Earth surface. These sensors can make measurements of ambient conditions or use remote sensing methods to measure characteristics of objects in a distance ranging from nearby to very far away. The sensors can be in the hands of human beings, or human beings can be the sensors themselves. In most cases, the sensors measure a variable characterizing the state of the human or non-human environment, or can be used to derive such variables. Of particular importance are coordinate systems realized through reference frames that allow highly accurate measurements.

Class Reading List

See Class 3.

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Class 5 (09/13/2017): Laboratory: Measuring Small Changes; Class topic: Extraterrestrial Hazards

Class 5 Slides

Laboratory: Measuring Small Changes

In this lab, we will consider the importance of stable reference frames for measuring small changes. Geodesy is the science that provides the theory and techniques to realize stable reference frames from local to global scales.

Lab Reading List

Scan through this chapter: Plag, H.-P., Altamimi, Z., Bettadpur, S., Beutler, G., Beyerle, G., Cazenave, A., Crossley, D., Donnellan, A., Forsberg, R., Gross, R., Hinderer, J., Komjathy, A., Mannucci, A. J., Ma, C., Noll, C., Nothnagel, A., Pavlis, E. C., Pearlman, M., Poli, P., Schreiber, U., Senior, K., Woodworth, P., & Zuffada, C., 2009. The goals, achievements, and tools of modern geodesy, in Global Geodetic Observing System: Meeting the Requirements of a Global Society on a Changing Planet in 2020, edited by H.-P. Plag & M. Pearlman, 15-88, Springer Berlin. This chapter is included in this pdf

Class 5: Extraterrestrial Hazards:

Earth is exposed to several hazards that originate in space. These include asteroids, meteorides, and comets that might lead to severe bollides or impacts, as well as radiation in form of space weather and solar storms, that can affect modern infrastructure. Gamma rays and proton storms also can pose hazards to life on Earth. There are many remanents of past impacts in form of meteor craters, and several mass extinction events are linked to extraterrestrial hazards. Today, several space agencies are engaged in monitoring Near-Earth Objects and space weather to provide timely warnings of emrging hazards.

Class Reading List

National Research Council. 2010. Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth-Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12842. pdf.

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Class 6 (09/18/2017): Class Topic: Geohazards

Class slides

Class 6: Geohazards

Geohazards include earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, ground motion, tsunamis, floods, meteorite impacts and the health hazards of geologic materials. Spatial scales can range from local events such as a rock slide or coastal erosion to events that threaten humankind such as a supervolcano or meteorite impact. On temporal scales, geohazards range from rapid rock falls and short earthquakes over prolonged volcanic eruptions to slow slope motion and subsidence that can last for years and more. Many but by far not all of the geohazards are related to plate tectonics. Increasingly, geohazards are also caused be humans.

Class Reading List:

PanGEO, n.d., What are Geohazards? html

Kious, W. J., Tilling, R. I., 1996. “Historical perspective”. This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics (Online ed.). U.S. Geological Survey. ISBN0-16-048220-8.

Murphy, J. B., van Andel, T. H., 2017. Plate Tectonics. Encyclopaedia Britannica, html.

Wikipedia, n.d., Plate Tectonics. html

National Geographic, n.d., Plate Tectonics. html.

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Class 7 (09/20/2017): Laboratory: Disaster risk management; Getting data; Assessing extraterrestrial hazards; Class Topic: Earthquakes

Class slides

Laboratory:

The questions to be discussed in this lab will review important themes considered in recent classes, including risk management cycle; getting data on hazards and disasters and assessing extraterrestrial hazards. The reading lists for these previous classes can help to write good answers to the questions.

Questions for you

Please, prepare written answers to the questions below and submit these by 09/18/2017 by 6:00 PM. Please, write on the order of half a page for each question. These written answers will be discussed in the laboratory hour.

  1. Discuss the different phases of the Disaster Risk Governance cycle and relate these to hazards, disasters, and the processes that link hazards and disasters.
  2. Describe the main components of the observing system that provides data to inform risk management.
  3. Comment on the relative importance of hazards that originate in space outside the Earth.

Citations and Reference should follow the documentation style defined by the Council of Scientific Editors, known as the CSE style. See SSF-Guide or the WISC page for more information on the CSE style.

Lab Reading List

van Niekerk, D., 2011. Introduction to Disaster Risk Reduction. USAID, pdf.

Warfield, C., n.d., The Disaster Management Cycle. html.

Lincoln, D., 2017. Earth dodges a cosmic bullet — for now. CNN, see here.

Class: Earthquakes

An earthquake is a sudden, violent shaking of the ground, usually caused by the fracturing of rock or movement of magma within Earth’s crust. Earth’s tectonic plates slowly and constantly readjust their positions and shapes in response to internal tectonic forces, and earthquakes are one of the consequences of this constant plate movement. Earthquakes occur when rock in the Earth’s crust breaks and moves suddenly in a fault zone. They are also caused by magma motion beneath volcanoes and during eruptions, and on the rare occasions when a meteorite hits Earth. Earthquakes occur most often along current and ancient plate boundaries, with the largest ones especially common on subduction and transform boundaries. However, they also occur, less frequently, in plate interiors. Destruction and casualties on a massive scale can result when a large earthquake happens beneath or very close to densely populated regions with infrastructure not built to resist the forces resulting from the ground motion.

Class Reading List

Bolt, B. A., 2017. Earthquake. Encyclopaedia Britannica, html

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Class 8 (09/25/2017): Class Topic: Disasters triggered by Earthquakes

Class slides

Class: Disasters triggered by Earthquakes

Earthquakes cause disasters mainly due to failing buildings and infrastructure. “Earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do!” (Bingham, 2011). The largest disasters caused by earthquakes are in areas where the built environment is not able to withstand the ground shaking. Failing buildings, resulting fires, or other casacading effects in the built environment lead to the largest disasters. For off-shore earthquakes, a resulting tsunami can cause a very large impact.

Class Reading List

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017. Notable Earthquakes in History. Encyclopaedia Britannica, html.

Plag, H.-P., Brocklebank, S., Brosnan, D., Campus, P., Cloetingh, S., Jules-Plag, S., Stein, S., 2015. Extreme Geohazards — Reducing the Disaster Risk and Increasing Resilience. European Science Foundation. pdf.

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Class 9 (09/27/2017): Laboratory and class: Case Study 1 (Extraterrestrial Hazard)

Laboratory: Collect the data needed for Case Study 1 (Extraterrestrial Hazard)

You are asked to spend time searching the internet for data relevant for the case study. You can do this alone at home or in the library, or you can group in small groups and work together. Please, consult the guidelines for the case study.

Lab Reading List

Class: Develop the case study 1 paper (Extraterrestrial Hazard)

Use the class time to work on your case study paper at home, in the library or in small groups. Make sure that if you work in a group, that you prepare a paper that represents your individual work. This work may benefit from your discussions with your fellow students. Please, consult the guidelines for the case study.

Please, submit a comprehensive draft of your case study 1 paper (Extraterrestrial Hazard) by 09/29/2017 by 6:00 PM. The draft case study papers will be reviewed and returned to you as soon as possible. A revised paper is due 10/09/2017. The case study papers will be discussed in the laboratory hour on 10/04/2017.

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Class 10 (10/02/2017): Class Topic: Tsunamis

Class slides

Class: Tsunamis

Tsunamis are waves in the ocean or large lakes that can be immensely destructive when they reach the shores and can destroy vast coastal regions. Earthquakes, landslides, and rockfalls can cause tsunamis in the ocean or in lakes. The extent of destruction a tsunami causes depends, among other factors, on the local population and infrastructure in the coastal region impacted by a tsunami.

Class Reading List

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. 2014. Tsunami, The Great Waves, Revised Edition. Paris, UNESCO, 16 pp., illus. IOC Brochure 2012-4. (English.), revised 2014. Language versions at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ulis/cgi-bin/ulis.pl?lin=1&catno=148609. pdf.

Bernard, E. N., n.d. The Tsunami Story. NOAA, http://www.tsunami.noaa.gov/tsunami_story.html.

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Class 11 (10/04/2017): Laboratory: Case Study 1 (Extraterrestrial Hazard) Discussion; Class: Volcanoes

Class slides

Laboratory: Discussion of Case Study 1 (Extraterrestrial Hazard)

Class: Volcanoes

Volcanoes are localized places where molten rock and ash mingled with toxic gases and steam erupts onto the surface of the Earth or other planetary bodies. On Earth, active volcanoes are located on divergent or convergent plate boundaries, or above isolated 'hot spots' in the Earth's mantle.

Class Reading List

Decker, B. B., Decker, R. W., et al., 2017. Volcano. Encyclopaedia Britannia, html.

Miles, G. M., Grainger, R. G., Highwood, E. J., 2003. Volcanic Aerosols: The significance of volcanic eruption strength and frequency for climate. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 128, doi: 10.1256/qj, pdf.

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Class 12 (10/11/2017): Laboratory: Earthquake epicenters; Class: Volcano Eruptions Continued

Class slides

Laboratory: Earthquake epicenters

There will be three lab experiments that come with extra credit points. In the first exercise, three seismogram will be used to determine the epicenter of the Loma Prieta earfthquake. In the second excercise, these three seismogram will be used to estimate the earthquake magnitude. The third exercise consists of a number of questions concernig the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In the lab, the exercises will be discussed in detail. The students will then have time until October 15, 2017 6:00 PM to send the solutions for these exercise to the instructor. The extra points gained will be added to the overall points and can be used to compensate for missed question sets or for poor results in the question sets.

Lab Reading List

Class: Volcano Eruptions Continued

The class will focus on aspects related to volcanic gasses and discuss a few examples of eruptions duriung the last few hundred Years. Volcanic magma and water in volcanic areas contain a number of disolved gasses that contribute to the explosive nature of eruptions. If these gasses reach the stratosphere, they can cause significant cooling in the atmosphere and lower the ground temperature. Most of the gasses are toxic and often cause a significant fraction of the fatalities during eruptions. A particular cases is that of disolved gases in lake water, which can lead to dangerous consentrations in the bottom layer of the lake. Under certain circumstances, these gasses can evaporate from the lake and cause many fatalities of human and non-human animals near the lake.

Class Reading List

Plag, H.-P., Brocklebank, S., Brosnan, D., Campus, P., Cloetingh, S., Jules-Plag, S., Stein, S., 2015. Extreme Geohazards — Reducing the Disaster Risk and Increasing Resilience. European Science Foundation. pdf.

Oppenheimer, C., 2003. Climatic, environmental and human consequences of the largest known historic eruption: Tambora volcano (Indonesia) 1815. Progress in Physical Geography, 27(2), 230-259. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1191/0309133303pp379ra.

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Class 13 (10/16/2017): Class Topic: Specific examples of an extraterrestrial hazard, an earthquakes, and a volcanic eruption - and large volcanic eruptions

Class Slides

Class: Examples of extraterrestrial hazards, earthquakes, and volcanic eruption

This class is in preparation of the Midterm exam. Specific examples of an extraterrestril hazard, an earthquake, and a volcanic eruption will be discussed. The Midterm exam will ask questions related to the hazards, the resulting disasters and the processes that determined the extent of the disasters. Questions will also address the preparedness of modern society for similar events happening in the future and/or in different locations.

Class Reading List

Wikipedia, 2017. Solar Storm of 1859. html

Phillips, T., 2014. Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012. NASA. html.

Lovett, R. A., 2011. What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today? National Geographic News, html.

Lloyd's, 2013. Solar storm Risk to the north American electric grid. Technical Report produced by Lloyd’s. pdf or pdf.

Rafferty, J. P., 2016. Nepal earthquake of 2015. Encyclopaedia Britannica, html.

Wikipedia, 2017. April 2015 Nepal Earthquake. html

Wikipedia, 2017. May 2015 Nepal Earthquake. html

Wyss, M., 2005. Human losses expected in Himalayan earthquakes. Nat. Hazards, 34, 305-314.

Wyss, M., 2017. Four loss estimates for the Gorkha M7.8 earthquake, 25 April 2015, before and after it occurred. Natural Hazards, Special Issue, doi:10.1007/s11069-016-2648-7.

Wikipedia, 2017. 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull. html.

Wikipedia, 2017. Air travel disruption after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption. html.

Wikipedia, 2017. Volcanic ash and aviation safety. html

Loughlin, S., n.d. Eyjafjallajökull eruption, Iceland | April/May 2010. British Geological Survey. html.

Sears, T. M.; Thomas, G. E.; Carboni, E.; Smith, A. J. A.; Grainger, R. G. (2013). "SO2 as a possible proxy for volcanic ash in aviation hazard avoidance". Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 18: 1–12. doi:10.1002/jgrd.50505

Shindell, D, 2009. NASA GISS: Science Briefs: Super-Eruptions, Climate and Human Survival. html, doi:10.1029/2008JD011652.

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Class 14 (10/18/2017): Laboratory: Geohazards; Class topic: Landslides and ground instabilities

Class 14 Slides

Laboratory: Geohazards

In this lab, we will review answers to questions related to geohazards.

Questions for you

Please, prepare written answers to the questions below and submit these by 10/16/2017 by 6:00 PM. Make sure that your answers are based on scientific literature and that you provide citation and references for the sources you are using to develop your answers. These written answers will be discussed in the laboratory class.

  1. What are the main types of plate boundaries and what are the characteristic features of each of these boundary types?
  2. Why did the 2010 Haiti Earthquake cause a far more severe disaster than the comparable 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake? For the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, use the Wikipedia page to find more literature. Similarly, you can use the Wikipedia page for the 2010 Haiti earthquake to find scientific sources.
  3. Discuss the societal impact of the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull (see Wikipedia page for a starting point) and compare this to the potential impact a VEI 7 eruption similar to the 1815 Mt Tambora eruption might have for our modern society.

Citations and Reference should follow the documentation style defined by the Council of Scientific Editors, known as the CSE style. See SSF-Guide or the WISC page for more information on the CSE style.

Class: Landslides and ground instabilities

Landslides are large volumes of loose rock and/or soild that move downslope, more or less as one mass, under the force of gravity. The general term landslides is used for a wide range of downslop movements of rock and soil.

Class Reading List

van Westen, C., n.d., Introduction to landslides. Part 1: Types and Causes. pdf.

van Westen, C., n.d., Landslides. Chapter 4 in Methodology Book, Caribbean Handbook of on Risk Management (CHARIM). html.

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Class 15 (10/23/2017): Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will focus on the main terms and concepts of disaster risk governance and consider three disasters caused by an extraterrestrial hazard, an earthquake, and a volcano eruption. The specific cases were discussed during Class 13 (October 16, 2017). The information on these cases is available in the slides of Class 13.

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Class 16 (10/25/2017): Laboratory and class: Case Study 2 (Geohazard)

Laboratory: Collect the data needed for Case Study 2

You are asked to spend time searching the internet for data relevant for the case study. You can do this alone at home or in the library, or you can group in small groups and work together. Guidelines for this case study are available here.

Class: Develop the case study 2 paper

Use the class time to work on your case study paper at home, in the library or in small groups. Make sure that if you work in a group, that you prepare a paper that represents your individual work. Guidelines for this case study are available here. This work may benefit from your discussions with your fellow students.

Please, submit your near-to-final draft case study 2 paper by 10/27/2017 by midnight. Comments on the draft will be provided by November 1, 2017. The draft case study papers will be discussed in the laboratory hour on 11/01/2017. The revised final case study paper is due on November 6, 2017. If you do not submit a draft, you can still submit a final paper by November 6, 2017.

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Class 17 (10/30/2017): Class Topic: Floods

Class Slides

Class: Floods

Water is essential for life, and humans have a strong tendency to live and work close to water. While being close to rivers, steams, lakes, and the ocean may be convenient, it also comes with the risk of catastropic flooding. Heavy and continuous rain can lead rivers to flood and lake barriers to break. Close proximity to the ocean carries the risk of storm surges and tsunami inundation. Floods are the natural hazards that impact the largest number of people and cause the largest amout of damage.

Class Reading List

UCAR, 2011. The Water Cycle. UCAR Center for Science Education, html.

O'Conner, J. E., Costa, J. E., 2004. The World 's largest floods, past and present: Their causes and magnitudes. USGS, Circular 1254. pdf.

Muis, S., Guenralp, B., Jongman, B., Aerts, J. C. J. H., Ward, P. J., 2015. Flood risk and adaptation strategies under climate change and urban expansion: A probabilistic analysis using global data. Science of the Total Environment, 538, 445-457.

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Class 18 (11/01/2017): Laboratory: Case Study 2, Hydrometerological Hazards; Class: Continuation of Floods

Class Slides

Laboratory: Case Study 2, Hydrometeorological Hazards

In the lab hour, four exercises will be introduced, which together provide a total of 170 points. You are asked to submit the exercises by November 14, 2017. You should aim to get at least 100 points. Points above the 100 points are counted as extra credits. The exercises are described on the Class Slides.

Class: Floods (continued)

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Class 19 (11/06/2017): Class Topic: Hurricanes

Class Slides

Class: Hurricanes

“Hurricanes and typhoons are atmospheric circulation systems of tropical origin characterized by low pressure at the center and near surface winds spiraling inward around this center, typically storm size ranges from 10 to 80 km for the radius to maximum wind speeds with cloud cover extending from about 150 to 1,500 km. In meteorological terms, hurricanes and typhoons are low pressure, warm-core cyclones, originating in warm waters with closed surface winds rotating about an eye.” (From Resio, D., Kay, S., 2015. Hurricanes and Typhoons. In "Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences", pages 1-8, Springer, https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-94-007-6644-0_180-1?no-access=true).

Class Reading List

Pickrell, J, 2006. Introduction to Hurricanes. New Scientist, https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9985-introduction-hurricanes/.

Morsink, K., 2016. Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones. Ocean Portal, Smithonian National Museum of Natural History. http://ocean.si.edu/hurricanes-typhoons-and-cyclones.

Wikipedia, 2017. Tropical cyclone. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclone.

National Hurricane Center, 2017. Hurricanes in History. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/outreach/history/. See also the info on the annual hurrican seasons available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/ and the overviews of the most extreme hurricanes available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/dcmi.shtml.

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Class 20 (11/08/2017): Laboratory: Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclones; Class topic: Hurricanes continued; Tornadoes

Class Slides

Lab: Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclones

In this lab, we will carry a a few exercises related to hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones to better understand the material presented in class 19. The exewrcise will be carried out in the class. It is important that you familarize yourself with https://coast.noaa.gov/hurricanes and some of the reports available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/. In particular, have a look at the report for Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Lab Reading List

National Hurricane Center, 2017. Hurricanes in History. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/outreach/history/. See also the info on the annual hurrican seasons available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/ and the overviews of the most extreme hurricanes available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/dcmi.shtml.

NOAA, 2017. Historical Hurricane Tracks. https://coast.noaa.gov/hurricanes.

National Hurricane Center, 2017. Hurricanes in History. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/outreach/history/. See also the info on the annual hurrican seasons available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/ and the overviews of the most extreme hurricanes available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/dcmi.shtml.

Class: Hurricanes continued; Tornadoes

Tornadoes are relatively narrow, violently rotating air columns that cause intense, although local, destruction. They extend between a thunderstorm's cloud base and the ground surface. Because the outer wall of the rotating air column is rather sharply defined, even though tornadoes inflict extreme destruction on everything within their path, the areas immediately adjacent to a tornado's touchdown may be completely unaffected.

Class Reading List

Wikipedia, 2017. Tornadoes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado.

Snow, J., 2017. Tornadoes. Encyclopeadia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/science/tornado.

Tippett, M. K., Cohen, J. E., 2016. Tornado outbreak variability follows Taylor’s power law of fluctuation scaling and increases dramatically with severity, Nature Communications, 7, 10668, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10668, pdf, html.

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Class 21 (11/13/2017): Class Topic: Develop the case study 3 paper (Hydrometeorological Hazard)

Class: Develop the case study 3 paper (Hydrometeorological Hazard)

Use the class time to work on your case study paper at home, in the library or in small groups. Guidelines for this case study are available here. This work may benefit from your discussions with your fellow students. Make sure that if you work in a group, that you prepare a paper that represents your individual work.

For this case study, you will submit the final version. Please, submit this final paper on 11/21/2017 6:00 PM. The case study papers will be discussed in the laboratory hour on 11/29/2017.

Citations and Reference should follow the documentation style defined by the Council of Scientific Editors, known as the CSE style. See SSF-Guide or the WISC page for more information on the CSE style.

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Class 22 (11/15/2017): Laboratory: Tornadoes; Class topic: Tornadoes continued, Ice storms and Meteo-Tsunamis

Class Slides

Laboratory: Tornadoes

In this lab, we will ...

Lab Reading List

FEMA, 2014. Presidental Disaster Declarations, December 1964-December 2013. pdf

IFRCRCS, 2015. World Disaster Report 2015. International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. html.

IFRCRCS, 2014. World Disaster Report 2014. International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. html.

Class: Tornadoes continued, Ice storms and Meteo-Tsunamis

Class Reading List

For Tornadoes, see reading list of Class 20.

MRCC, n.d., Ice Stroms. Living with Weather, Midwestern Regional Climate Center. http://mrcc.isws.illinois.edu/living_wx/icestorms/.

Houston, T. G., Changnon, S. A. 2007. Freezing rain events: a major hazard in the conterminous US. Natural Hazards, 40, 485-494.

Monserrat, S., Vilibíc, I., Rabinovich, A. B., 2006. Meteotsunamis: atmospherically induced destructive ocean waves in the tsunami frequency band. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 6(6), 1035-1051. doi: 10.5194/nhess-6-1035-2006. pdf.

Thomas, E., Ryan, G. (eds.), 2010. Meteotsunamis. https://meteotsunami.weebly.com/index.html.

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Class 23 (11/20/2017): Use class time to work on case study 3

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Class 24 (11/27/2017): Class Topic: Recent and Future Climate Change

Class Slides

Class: Recent and future climate change

Comparing the last 50 to 100 years to a long-term baseline derived from the Holocene, it is obvious that flows in the Earth's life-support system have changed dramatically due to human interventions. Some flows are hundred to more than a thousand time higher now than on average during the Holocene. The energy imbalance of the Earth system also has changed dramatically. As a result, climate has started to change much faster than ever before as documented by data. The prognosis of how climate is going to change over the next century and beyond poses a threat to humanity and many non-human animals.

Class Reading List

Please, read the Executive Summary of this report:
USGCRP, 2017: Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I [Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, 470 pp. https://science2017.globalchange.gov/.

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Class 25 (11/29/2017): Laboratory: Question Set 4 and Case Study 3 Discussion (Hydrometeorological Hazard); Class: Climate Change Impacts: Sea level rise, heat waves, cold spells and droughts

Class Slides

Laboratory: Question Set 4 and discussion of Case Study 3 (Hydrometeorological Hazard)

The third case study is due on 11/21/2017 at 6:00 PM. See Class 21 or the Guidelines for more details on the third case study paper.

Question Set 4 for you

Please, prepare written answers to the questions below and submit these by 11/24/2017 by 6:00 PM. These written answers will be discussed in the laboratory class.

  1. What do the terms tropical storm, tropical depression, hurricane, typhoon and cyclon mean and in which geographical regions are they used?
  2. Where on Earth can tropical cyclones develop and what is the main energy sources for them to develop into hurricanes?
  3. Explain the Coriolis force and what impact this force has on the direction of the rotation of cyclones on the northern and southern hemisphere.
  4. What is a tornado? Describe the main process that generate most tornados and the typical lifecycle of a tornado.

Citations and Reference should follow the documentation style defined by the Council of Scientific Editors, known as the CSE style. See SSF-Guide or the WISC page for more information on the CSE style.

Class: Climate Change Impacts

Climate change impacts are being experienced already today in a more rapid sea level rise leading to increased coastal flooding, more heat spells and droughts, but also more cold spells in some areas.

Class Reading List

Please, read the Chapter 12 and Chapter 8 of this report:
USGCRP, 2017: Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I [Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, 470 pp. https://science2017.globalchange.gov/.

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Class 26 (12/04/2017): Class Topic: Final Exame Preparation and Class: Climate Change Impacts continued

Class Slides

Class: Final Exame Preparation and Class: Climate Change Impacts continued

See Class 25 above.

Class Reading List

See reading list in of Class 25 above.

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Class 27 (12/06/2017): Laboratory and Class topic: Climate Change (continued), Climate change impacts, land use, biological hazards, and extinction

Class 27 Slides

Laboratory

Question Set 5 for you

Please, prepare written answers to the questions below and submit these by 12/04/2017 by 6:00 PM. These written answers will be discussed in the laboratory class.

  1. How do the changes in global average surface temperature over the last five decades compare to previous variations in global surface temperature? In which region did the surface temperature change most?
  2. What are the three main drivers that determine Earth's climate and which of them has changed a lot during the last few decades?
  3. The earth is currently storing on the order of 320 TW of additional energy. Where is this energy being stored?
  4. What is the range of global average sea level change expected for 2100 and what contributes most to making this range large? What is the maximum sea level rise can we cannot safely exclude?
  5. Discuss three major threats related to natural hazards resulting from human interactions with Earth's life support system and comment on the potential impacts for humanity.

Make sure to include citations of sources in your answers. Citations and Reference should follow the documentation style defined by the Council of Scientific Editors, known as the CSE style. See SSF-Guide or the WISC page for more information on the CSE style.

Class: Land use, biological hazards, and extinction

Class Reading List

BARRIOPEDRO, D., FISCHER, E. M., LUTERBACHER, J., TRIGO, R. M., GARCÍA-HERRERA, R., 2011. The Hot Summer of 2010: Redrawing the Temperature Record Map of Europe. Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1201224. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/03/16/science.1201224.

Klinenberg, E., 2002. A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. University of Chicago Press.

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Class 28 (12/15/2017): Final Exam

The final exam will take place on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 3:45 PM. The time allocated for the exam is 1:30 hours from 3:45 PM to 5:15 PM.

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