HAZARDS

hazards

El Niño disaster stunted children's growth

In 1997 and 1998, warmer-than-average temperatures brought on by El Niño weather patterns led to copious rainfall and extensive flooding in northern Peru. The rising waters wiped out crops, drowned livestock, cut off bridges, and caused prolonged famine in many rural villages. Now, a new study that tracked long-term health impacts on children from the affected region has found that those born during or soon after the floods continued, a decade later, to bear signs of the hardship endured early in their lives.

 
03 Mar 2015

Tohoku tsunami may have gotten a boost from submarine slump

When the magnitude-9 Tohoku earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011, the mainshock triggered tsunami waves averaging about 10 meters in height by the time they reached the coast of Japan, from Fukushima in the south to the northern tip of Honshu Island. But one mountainous stretch of coastline known as Sanriku, about 100 kilometers north of the main rupture area, saw waves higher than 40 meters. This oddity has led some scientists to suggest that a submarine landslide, triggered by the earthquake, may have contributed to the tsunami’s extreme height in this region.

 
04 Feb 2015

California drying out

Offering another perspective on the ongoing drought in the western U.S., NASA recently released this three-panel image illustrating relative water loss from California’s Central Valley between 2002 and 2014 based on data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites (hot colors indicate greater loss).

03 Feb 2015

Asbestos found in Nevada and Arizona: Roadblock and potential health hazard?

The discovery of a previously unknown type of asbestos-forming geologic environment means asbestos may be more widespread than thought. But is it a health hazard?

29 Jan 2015

California: A profusion of drought restrictions with varying results

With 100 percent of California experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions last year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Gov. Jerry Brown mandated the tracking of monthly personal water usage for the first time. In addition, water districts around the state also took up varying degrees of drought restrictions, including such strategies as raising water prices and severely limiting outdoor irrigation. But whether these restrictions will make a dent in California’s water shortage amid the ongoing and historic drought remains to be seen.

25 Jan 2015

Secondary aerosols a primary cause of Chinese smog

Images of Chinese skylines and streetscapes blurred by pollution-fueled hazes have become increasingly common in recent years amid ongoing urbanization and industrialization. According to a new study published in Nature, much of the pollution fogging the country’s major cities is arising not from fine particles emitted directly into the sky, but by gases that react and condense in the atmosphere to form secondary aerosols.

24 Jan 2015

Comment: Supersites: Sharing geoscience data for science and society

In 2005, the United Nations developed the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) program, a collaboration of 89 institutions and organizations that sustain comprehensive Earth-observing capabilities for the benefit of humankind. One of GEO's programs is the Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories initiative, which is focused on sharing spaceborne and other geophysical data to understand geohazards and to promote preparedness and hazard mitigation.

22 Jan 2015

Modeling a big mess from Yellowstone

In the event of another super-eruption at Yellowstone National Park, few places in the U.S. would be ash-free, according to a new modeling study. The northern Rocky Mountains would be blanketed in meters of ash, and millimeters would be deposited as far away as New York City, Miami and Los Angeles.

15 Jan 2015

The '100-year flood' fallacy: Return periods misleading in communication of flood risk

The “100-year flood” is a familiar term to anyone who lives in a flood-prone area or has ever looked at a flood map before buying homeowner’s insurance. Return periods, or recurrence intervals, like this are standard parlance for describing the magnitude and potential hazard of floods, as well as other hydrologic events like storms and droughts. Although such terms have long helped policymakers and the public try to make sense of severe weather, one researcher suggests they may confuse the issue more than clarify it.

11 Jan 2015

Utah gravity slide was one for the record books

When Washington state’s Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, the volcano’s northern flank gave way, sending about 2.5 cubic kilometers of material down its slopes and into nearby valleys in what was the largest debris avalanche in recorded history. But roughly 22 million years earlier, one of the largest-known volcanic landslides the world has ever seen occurred in southwestern Utah, according to a study in Geology. That one, estimate the study’s authors, released between 1,700 and 2,000 cubic kilometers of ash, tuff and sandstone — nearly 1,000 times as much as Mount St. Helens — over a 3,400-square-kilometer area.

09 Jan 2015

Pages