Taxonomy term

natural hazards

On the web: Mount St. Helens goes online to reach the masses

If you’ve ever felt the mysterious allure of volcanoes — both terrifying and spectacular — you can now experience the infamous eruption of Mount St. Helens from the safety of your computer. The new Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center website (www.mshslc.org) offers exciting interactive experiences and more to volcano enthusiasts and earth science students with just a few clicks of a mouse.

25 Aug 2013

Alaskan volcano doesn't just huff and puff, it screams

In March 2009, Alaska’s Mount Redoubt awoke from two decades of silence with something to say: A series of small earthquakes leading up to the eruption produced a seismic sound that staff at the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Volcano Observatory nicknamed “the screams.” Now, two new studies are eavesdropping on Redoubt’s inner workings and quantifying the forces needed to produce the unusual harmonic tremors.

16 Jul 2013

Map provides clues to natural protection of U.S. coastal communities

Devastating storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina have left many coastal residents wondering how to protect life and property from future catastrophes. In a study published this week in Nature Climate Change, researchers suggest the best protection from storms and rising sea levels in the U.S. may entail a combination of engineering and conservation.

16 Jul 2013

Geologic Column: Sometimes, the sky really is falling

Airplane pilots have a long history of using euphemisms to minimize the sense of risk in their work. Pilot-speak for crashing an airplane, for example, is “ruining your entire day.” In the same parlance, encountering an asteroid could cause all of us to have a very, very bad day. But maybe our close calls — such as the fireball that flew over Russia in February — can serve as reminders to renew our focus on searching for and understanding objects that could, literally, impact our planet.

12 May 2013

National Weather Service introduces impact-based warnings for tornadoes

Tornado damage threat: considerable or catastrophic?

On May 22, 2011, a column of rotating air spawned a massive EF-5 tornado, with wind speeds greater than 200 miles per hour, over the city of Joplin, Mo. The twister caught the city off guard, leaving 158 people dead and injuring more than 1,000 people, making it the deadliest tornado in the United States since record-keeping began in 1950. As the National Weather Service (NWS) surveyed the city following the tornado, they began considering ideas on how to better alert the public to the risks of dangerous weather events. After a successful test phase of one such idea, the agency is now expanding on its so-called “Impact Based Warnings” experiment.

15 Apr 2013

Big quakes topple traditional views of fault behavior

If rules are made to be broken, then perhaps conventional wisdom is made to be overturned. The spate of large earthquakes in recent years — the magnitude and location of which have defied scientific expectations in several cases — has provided ample support for these maxims, at least within earth science. For all the confusion, though, data emerging from these events are reshaping and improving our understanding of how faults operate.

14 Apr 2013

Disaster debris hotlines and fast grants

Two years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, debris set adrift by the destructive waves continues to wash up on beaches along the west coast of the United States and Canada.

Beachcombers can report tsunami-related or hazardous debris by emailing DisasterDebris@noaa.gov or calling 1-855-WACOAST in Washington or 211 in Oregon. As of Dec. 13, NOAA had received 1,432 reports of debris, 17 of which were confirmed as tsunami-related.

01 Jan 2013

Highlights of 2012: Climate 2012 - A window into what to expect for 2013 and beyond?

July 2012 was the hottest month by far for the lower 48 states. Much of the nation faced drought conditions that grew steadily worse throughout the summer, and there were major repercussions for crop yields and food prices. Wildfires were also rampant. The record low snowpack in May 2012 in the Colorado Rockies set the stage for major wildfires in June, with more than 600 homes lost in Colorado alone. Wildfires developed in other regions in July as well, as tremendous record-breaking heat developed in Oklahoma and surrounding areas. Considered individually, the record temperatures, droughts, fires and diminished snowpack are not necessarily alarming and may not signal anything beyond the natural occurrence of a hotter-than-average year. But combined, these indicators are much more significant from a climate standpoint. They highlight that there is more than just natural variability playing a role: Global warming has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future. So, what can we expect?

25 Nov 2012

Voices: Judged unfairly in L'Aquila - roles and responsibilities should have been considered

Earlier this week, an Italian judge summarily convicted seven participants in a meeting of the Italian Serious Risks Commission who evaluated the hazard posed by the L’Aquila earthquake swarm before the magnitude-6.3 earthquake on April 6, 2009, for the same offense and to the same penalty: six years in prison. Much has been written about this court decision, but the very different roles played by the seven defendants and their different expertise have not been discussed. Is there no difference among the roles of the “L’Aquila Seven” in the communication disaster?

26 Oct 2012

Hazardous Living: Italian seismologists tragically convicted of manslaughter

Today, six seismologists and one government official were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison. The seismologists and official had been on trial for not adequately warning the public about the danger of a potential earthquake prior to the L'Aquila earthquake in April 2009 that killed 309 people.

22 Oct 2012

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