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hazards

Jump-starting earthquake insurance uptake in California

Many parts of California are at risk for large, damaging earthquakes. Yet only about one in 10 homes in the state is covered by earthquake insurance. Now, a new insurance option offers a means to supplement traditional insurance plans and provides a way for uninsured Californians to obtain at least a modicum of earthquake coverage.

08 Mar 2019

Comment: After a disaster, should you gamble on returning? Paradise edition

Not much remains of Paradise, Calif., after the fast-moving and deadly Camp Fire scorched the area in November 2018. Today, the town is essentially gone, but the inevitable question remains: Should people rebuild in locations prone to such hazards?

06 Mar 2019

Comment: Faster flood forecasting to improve responses

High-resolution weather models can generate very accurate forecasts, but they take time to run — time that may be needed to safely respond to a rapidly unfolding weather disaster. The authors examine the tradeoffs between accuracy and timeliness in flood forecasting.

06 Feb 2019

Benchmarks: January 12, 1888: "Schoolchildren's Blizzard" Strikes the Great Plains

By mid-January 1888, the Great Plains had seen ice storms, frigid temperatures and above-average snowfall. On the morning of Jan. 12, however, the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny, with temperatures reaching well above freezing in places. Many people, including children on their way to school, left home without winter coats, hats or mittens. In a matter of hours, everything changed.

12 Jan 2019

Night lights reveal that people move as rivers rise

Flooding is one of the most damaging natural hazards, so it’s no surprise that many people resettle farther from rivers after catastrophic flooding. A new study finds that the distance that people move from a given river depends on the degree of flood protection in place, with people rebuilding closer to rivers that offer high levels of structural flood protection, such as levees and dams, than they do to rivers without such protections.

28 Dec 2018

Down to Earth With: Coastal scientist Gary Griggs

Maybe it was the summer camping trips with his family along the Pacific coast, or perhaps surfing off Santa Barbara, Calif., during college, but Gary Griggs always gravitated to the ocean. He turned that love into a career and has spent the last 50 years teaching about the oceans and coasts at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

26 Dec 2018

Human-triggered landslides on the rise

Between 2004 and 2016, an estimated 56,000 people were killed by landslides worldwide. A newly developed tool, the Global Fatal Landslide Database, reveals that, of the 4,800 fatal landslides over that 12-year period, more than 700 were caused by human intervention through activities such as construction, mining and digging.

14 Dec 2018

Benchmarks: December 7, 1988: A Massive Earthquake Devastates Armenia

Thirty years ago this month, on Dec. 7, 1988, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake shook the northern region of the then-Soviet republic of Armenia. At 11:41 a.m., the earthquake damaged nearly a third of the small country and destroyed the town of Spitak near the epicenter.

07 Dec 2018

New tool predicts probability of earthquake-triggered landslides

Landslides are the third-leading cause of death in earthquakes, after building collapses and tsunamis. Unlike tsunamis, however, which usually arrive minutes to hours after an earthquake, earthquake-triggered landslides tend to occur simultaneously with ground shaking, so a landslide warning system is not possible. But a new model that predicts where landslides may be triggered during earthquakes could help emergency aid and rescue efforts.

07 Dec 2018

Geomedia: Books: "This Gulf of Fire" recounts the 1755 Lisbon disaster

In the panoply of history-altering natural disasters, Lisbon’s destruction on All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, 1755, stands out. You may have heard of this Portuguese calamity in the context of tsunami coverage, but it was a sequence of three disasters — an earthquake, a tsunami and a fire — that combined to level much of the city and claim tens of thousands of lives. Some scholars suggest a fourth calamity was the way the aftermath was handled, but author Mark Molesky seems more charitably inclined on that front. In “This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason,” Molesky, a historian at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, has written the definitive scholarly account — if not the most accessible one — of that fateful day and its historical aftermath.

19 Nov 2018

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