This knowledge is also key to marine conservation and cures from medicinal biodiversity.
Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Correspondent – internally quoting Walter H.F. Smith and Karen Marks. Both are expert Geophysicists at the NOAA – “MH370 spur to 'better ocean mapping'” – BBC News – May 27th, 2014 – http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27589433
Drs Walter Smith and Karen Marks have assessed the paucity of bathymetric datain the region in an article for EOS Transactions, the weekly magazine of the American Geophysical Union. The pair work for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). They say only two publically accessible data-acquisition sorties have been conducted close to where search vessels made possible black box detections, and "both expeditions occurred prior to the use of modern multibeam echo sounders, so depth measurements were collected by single, wide-beam echo sounders that recorded on analogue paper scrolls, the digitizing of which is often in error by hundreds of metres". Modern MBES uses GPS to precisely tie measurements to a particular location. The equipment can not only sense depth very accurately (to an error typically of 2%), but can also return information on seafloor hardness - something that would be important in looking for wreckage in soft sediment. Just 5% of a vast region, 2,000km by 1,400km, which includes the search locality, has any sort of direct depth measurement, Smith and Marks say. The rest - 95% - is covered by maps that are an interpolation of satellite data. These have a resolution no better than 20km.Maps of the arid surface of Mars are considerably better. "The state of knowledge of the seafloor in the MH370 search area, although poor, is typical of that in most of Earth's oceans, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere," the pair write. "In many remote ocean basins the majority of available data are celestially navigated analogue measurements because systematic exploration of the oceans seems to have ceased in the early 1970s, leaving the ocean floors about as sparsely covered as the interstate highway system covers the United States. "When these sparse soundings are interpolated by satellite altimetry, the resulting knowledge of seafloor topography is 15 times worse in the horizontal and 250 times worse in the vertical than our knowledge of Martian topography." Smith and Marks hope that the detailed survey work now being conducted in the search for MH370 will be a catalyst to gather better data in other parts of the globe. High-resolution bathymetry has myriad uses."Better knowledge of the ocean floor means better knowledge of fish habitats.This is important for marine conservation, and could help us find biological resources including new medicines," Dr Smith told BBC News.
(Note to students: “Medicinal biodiversity” is the idea that plants and animals have information in their genetic codes that could be of use when humanity confronts a disease).
Mutating viruses coming. We should maximize knowledge from medicinal biodiversity to lower the risks.
Jeffrey A McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN. Gland. Switzerland – from the chapter “Risks to People of Losing Medicinal Species” – from the book – Conserving medicinal species : securing a healthy future p. 22-24
Human diseases,and the species to treat them, are influenced profoundly by the global ecosystem changes that are taking place. Urbanisation alters the dynamics of disease transfer as an increased density of hosts typically increases chances of transmission (e.g., influenza); large scale development projects may alter host dynamics or disease dynamics or both (e.g., irrigation projects increasing the incidence of schistosomiasis); climate change may alter the range of vector-bome diseases (e.g., malaria); human expansion into new territories may expose people to newly discovered diseases (e.g., haemorrhagic fevers such as the Ebola virus in Africa); and translocations of ballast water, changes in water temperature and marine pollution may cause toxic red tides which can promote the spread of bacteria and viruses such as those that cause cholera and hepatitis A. Globalisation is, more broadly, bringing with it a series of new threats to both medicinal species and environmental health. Viruses are a particular problem because they are so difficult to cure; while vaccines for viruses such as smallpox, polio, and Yellow fever have proven effective, even very substantial investments to find a cure for AIDS have thus far proven only marginally effective. Even worse, the global changes that are affecting many parts of the world are expected to expand the ranges of many viruses that are potentially dangerous to humans. Moving into wilderness areas brings people into contact with a wider range of viruses, while air travel carries viruses around the globe, as a sort of excess baggage. A particularly worrisome mechanismis genetic exchange between viruses infecting people and wild or domestic animals, with the two viruses picking up genes from each other, enabling the virus to produce a new outer coat and so evade the human immune system (Miller. 1989). This is the main mechanism by which influenza pandemics arise, often involving an influenza virus that infects humans and one that is carried by ducks, including wild ducks, and other species of birds. As humans spread into more nesting areas of wild birds, opportunities for this genetic exchange may increase. As indicated by recent outbreaks of avian influenza in many parts of Asia, this is a very real threat. Becoming part of the global economy appears to have encouraged many people to believe that human health is no longer dependent on a healthy natural world. Health has become a personal issue, with both prevention and cure centred on the individual (McMichael et al. 1999). However, health is also a characteristic of populations, and looking at the issue from the larger perspective of society can lead us in a very different direction. Of course, it is the individual who finally contracts any particular disease, but the risk of doing so is influenced significantly by the ecological context within which the population lives. Climate change is likely to affect the ecology of many diseases and insect and arthropod disease transmitters (vectors) such as those responsible for malaria, dengue, schistosomiasis, yellow fever, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis. leishmaniasis, and American and African trypanosomiasis. Increases in the incidence of viral tick-borne encephalitis in Sweden have been linked already to recent milder winters and the earlier arrival of spring. Pollution is a significant global change factor that is threatening many species of animals. In the US, for example, some 27% of vertebrates and 66% of the invertebrates on the Federal Endangered Species List are damaged by pollutants; and almost all of the 70 species of threatened mussels are harmed by pollutants (Wilcove et al.. 1998). Agricultural pollutants that enter lakes and rivers as run-off from farming operations are the worst problem (Richter et al; 1997), but the problem of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) affects many plant and animal species. The previous discussion may have left the impression that in some cases animals are disease reservoirs which are best done without, and some wild plants can be even worse (Anderson et al., 2004). However, the loss of medicinal species carries numerous hazards for people. Again, this discussion will introduce briefly a few points for consideration. With the formidable array of threats discussed above, many medicinal species are at significant risk of extinction. Surely, an optimist might argue, alternative medicines can be found, and biotechnology is finding new ways of producing pharmaceuticals that do not necessarily depend on a wild source. But that argument misses the point: the loss of medicinal species can have profound influences on many aspects of human health, of which losing a source of medicine is only the first. While lab researchers are certainlyable to discover remarkable pharmaceuticals, nature is even betterand many of the pharmacologically active ingredients are highly unlikely to be found in the lab (Chrvian, 2002). For example, the 500 species of cone snails (Conidae) each have an estimated 50-100 distinct toxins to immobilise prey. The toxins are highly selective in their receptor binding sites, making them very valuable to biomedical research, with over 2600 studies published since 1980. However, of the estimated 50,000 conotoxins, only about 100 have been investigated so far, leaving many more to be studied for their benefits to human health. These species are being harvested heavily for both their toxins and their attractive shells, posing a very real threat to the survival of at least some populations. Chrvian et al. (2003) conclude that 'cone snails may contain the largest and most clinically important pharmacopoeia of any genus in nature. To lose them with be a self-destructive act of unparalleled folly." Scientists already know many of the species that have medicinal value, but many morespecies have not yet been surveyed.While we will never know what we have lost before we knew about it, conserving the maximum biodiversity would seem a sound risk-adverse strategy in maintaining future options.
Those outbreaks risk extinction.
(et al; Jeffrey V. Yule – Herbert McElveen Professor of Applied and Natural Sciences At the School of Biological Sciences, Louisiana Tech University, Published April 2nd – Humanities 2013, 2, 147–159; doi:10.3390/h2020147)
Since the 1940s, humans in industrialized nations have been relatively sheltered fromthe threat that infectious disease once posed. Modern antibiotics and antivirals have controlled pathogensthat once devastated human populations, but these drugs often remain effective only briefly. Unprecedentedly large, dense human populations characteristic of modern societies coupled with rapid global travel create a situation in which emerging pathogens can move much more efficiently between hosts. Rates of future human mortality from emerging infectious diseases may depend on the levels of biodiversitythat remain in unpopulated regions, which suggests that protection from novel infectious disease may be what has been, until recently, an overlooked benefit of biodiversity. We have assumed that humanity’s future will unfold in a way that avoids any of a number of global disasters for Homo sapiens sapiens. An equally reasonable but less optimistic assessment could take exception to that position. A variety of things could go badly wrong for humanity. Global human N may not stabilize at or below where it stands now without being pushed there by some form(s) of crisis that result from humans exceeding global K. As a result, anthropogenic factors from the intentionally harmful (e.g., warfare) to the unintentionally disastrous (e.g., agricultural practices leading to topsoil erosion and desertification) could occur singly or in conjunction with one another, with a variety of natural disasters (e.g., volcanic eruptions, earthquakes), and with disasters that straddle the boundary of natural and anthropogenic, the sorts of scenarios that otherwise could have been avoided or their impacts lessened with more forethought (e.g., outbreaks of infectious disease that move easily through dense human population centers and cannot be readily treateddue to pathogen drug resistance). Although we cannot rule out such eventualities, speculation about the future of humanity is inherently more interesting if it proceeds on the assumption that the species will be at least moderately successful beyond the short- to medium-term. However, it may not, andthe potential failure of our species has considerable biological implications.
Future diseases address normal take-outs. They’ll mutate; spread globally; and if they burn-out, they’ll be more explosive. We’ll need cures from medicinal biodiversity.
(et al; Jeffrey A McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN. Gland. Switzerland – from the chapter “The Future of Medicinal Biodiversity” – a section from the book: Conserving Medicinal Species Securing a Healthy Future – available at: https://portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/edocs/2006-022.pdf)
The introduction of new agricultural practices, or expansion of existing practices, can also increase epidemiological risks through changing ecological relationships. A particularly worrisome mechanism isgenetic exchange between viruses infecting people and wild or domestic animals, with the two viruses picking up genes from each other, enabling the virus to produce a new outer coat and so evade the human immune system (Miller, 1989). This is the main mechanism by which influenza pandemics arise, often involving an influenza virus that infects humans and one that is carried by ducks, including wild ducks, and other species of birds. Many believe the recent outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza arose this way. As humans spread into more nesting areas of wild birds, opportunities for this genetic exchange are likely to increase, with global air travel enabling the virus to spread around the world, before its symptoms are expressed. Animal populations that are displaced by habitat alteration can provide new habitats for pathogens or can carry their pathogens to new areas and new species. Because populations of humans or animals exposed to a new infectious organism tend to experience disease in an explosive manner rather than the sporadic and lower-level outbreaks of disease that characterise endemic infectious organisms, these 'invasive species' are likely to be especially dangerous. Thus, habitat fragmentation, already identified as a major threat to biodiversity, can also increase both human and wildlife susceptibility to introduced diseases (MEA, 2005b). Some health concerns resulting from habitat degradation relate to specific biomes. Infectious diseases have often been associated with wetlands, leading to their modification as a public health measure. Other kinds of water resources development may increase the risk of disease. Four main diseases are commonly associated with water development projects - schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis and malaria - because of their wide distribution and serious symptoms. Many other diseases, such as cholera, dysentery, and encephalitis, are also linked to water. As demand for more water development projects increases and natural wetlands are modified to provide greater flows of economic benefits, an ecological approach has been recommended to wetlands management and health assessment (Zimermann, 2001; MEA, 2005b). This will involve dealing with an entire landscape, addressing spatial boundaries, and ensuring that cross-boundary interactions are incorporated in planning decisions. Tropical forests are not amenable to intervention for control of insect vectors, and it often is difficult to establish effective health care and surveillance systems to serve the needs of indigenous or migrant populations. Where health care systems do exist, they are likely to be less able to respond to ecosystem changes projected over the next few decades, especially if resources for public health continue to diminish. Thus, changes associated with diseases of the tropical forest and its interface, and the consequences of continuing forest loss to human and wildlife health, will be less predictable in the future. The impacts of deforestation and climate change are particularly potent combinations that create conditions conducive to the emergence and spread of disease. As the rate of change continues to accelerate, we should expect more uncertainty in the future. This implies that medicinal biodiversity is likely to be even more important in the future, to help rural people address the challenges of new diseasesand living conditions.
Ecological Biodiversity Module
This knowledge boosts information for marine conservation.
Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Correspondent – internally quoting Walter H.F. Smith and Karen Marks. Both are expert Geophysicists at the NOAA – “MH370 spur to 'better ocean mapping'” – BBC News – May 27th, 2014 – http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27589433
Drs Walter Smith and Karen Marks have assessed the paucity of bathymetric datain the region in an article for EOS Transactions, the weekly magazine of the American Geophysical Union. The pair work for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). They say only two publically accessible data-acquisition sorties have been conducted close to where search vessels made possible black box detections, and "both expeditions occurred prior to the use of modern multibeam echo sounders, so depth measurements were collected by single, wide-beam echo sounders that recorded on analogue paper scrolls, the digitizing of which is often in error by hundreds of metres". Modern MBES uses GPS to precisely tie measurements to a particular location. The equipment can not only sense depth very accurately (to an error typically of 2%), but can also return information on seafloor hardness - something that would be important in looking for wreckage in soft sediment. Just 5% of a vast region, 2,000km by 1,400km, which includes the search locality, has any sort of direct depth measurement, Smith and Marks say. The rest - 95% - is covered by maps that are an interpolation of satellite data. These have a resolution no better than 20km.Maps of the arid surface of Mars are considerably better. "The state of knowledge of the seafloor in the MH370 search area, although poor, is typical of that in most of Earth's oceans, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere," the pair write. "In many remote ocean basins the majority of available data are celestially navigated analogue measurements because systematic exploration of the oceans seems to have ceased in the early 1970s, leaving the ocean floors about as sparsely covered as the interstate highway system covers the United States. "When these sparse soundings are interpolated by satellite altimetry, the resulting knowledge of seafloor topography is 15 times worse in the horizontal and 250 times worse in the vertical than our knowledge of Martian topography." Smith and Marks hope that the detailed survey work now being conducted in the search for MH370 will be a catalyst to gather better data in other parts of the globe. High-resolution bathymetry has myriad uses."Better knowledge of the ocean floor means better knowledge of fish habitats.This is important for marine conservation,and could help us find biological resources including new medicines," Dr Smith told BBC News.
Such knowledge is key to successful conservation. That checks overfishing in Southern Indian Ocean – which hurts Seamounts and vital biodiversity.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources or IUCN is the world's oldest and largest global environmental network. IUCN supports scientific research, and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy. IUCN features almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by more than 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. This is a joint publication lead by IUCN – with support from The Global Environment Facility and The United Nations Development Programme – “Seamounts Project: An Ecosystem Approach to Management of Seamounts in the Southern Indian Ocean” – available at: http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/Environment%20and%20Energy/Water%20and%20Ocean%20Governance/Seamounts_Project.pdf.
The global depletion of inshore and continental shelf fisheries,coupled with improvements in fishing technology and growing demand for seafood,has led commercial operators to fish further outand deeper into the oceans. Some of these fisheries are in oceanic waters beyond national exclusive economic zones (EEZs), where they are subject to weak or sometimes no regulation. Seamounts and other complex, raised seabed features in the open ocean are often hotspots of biological diversity and production. Some attract concentrations of commercially-important pelagic fish,such as tuna, and concentrations of animals such as cetaceans, seabirds, sharks and pinnipeds. Seamounts also host deep-water fish species, such as orange roughy or alfonsino, that are highly attractive to commercial operators. The limited knowledge of seamount-associated fauna to date indicates that many species grow and reproduce slowly and are therefore much more vulnerable to overexploitation. Evidence has shown that deep-sea bottom fisheries can cause depletion of commercially-important fish stocks in just a few years and irreparable damageto slow-growing deep-seabed communities of cold water corals, sponges and other animals. While seamounts in temperate regions around developed countries have been visited for research, those in more remote regions remain nearly unexplored.This is particularly true for the Southern Indian Ocean, for which the few biological data that exist come almost exclusively from the deep-sea fishing industry or from national fisheries research programs prospecting for exploitable fish stocks. Furthermore, these data are not available to the public for reasons of commercial confidentiality. The Southern Indian Ocean remains the most significant gap in current knowledge of global seamount ecology and biodiversity.Thus, conservationand management ofmarine biodiversity based on precautionary and ecosystem approaches is hamperedby a lack of fundamental scientific knowledgeand understanding of seamount ecologyand their relations to benthic and pelagic fish species of commercial interest. Seamounts, underwater mountains rising from the ocean floor, are found in all oceansof the world and are abundant features of the seafloor. They are known to be hotspots of biological diversity and production, and are important formarine biodiversity and the status of marine food webs.Migratory fish and cetaceans rely on seamounts as well for their food supply. Limited knowledge of seamount-associated fauna to date indicates that many species grow and reproduce slowly, thus are highly vulnerable to overexploitation.
It’s not about species, but hotspots. Damaging hotspots risks huge regional death tolls for vulnerable populations and global extinction.
(Conservation International (CI) is a nonprofit environmental organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. FWIW, it is right near the Georgetown camp and we may visit them. CI is one of the largest conservation organizations headquartered in the United States, though its field work is done in other countries. It has 900+ employees, more than 30 global offices, and more than 1,000 partners around the world. CI has evolved into an international organization with influence among governments, scientists, charitable foundations, and business – “Hotspots” – http://www.conservation.org/How/Pages/Hotspots.aspx)
To stem this crisis, we must protect the places where biodiversity lives. But species aren’t evenly distributed around the planet. Certain areas have large numbers of endemic species — those found nowhere else. Many of these are heavily threatened by habitat loss and other human activities. These areas are the biodiversity hotspots, 35 regions where success in conserving species can have an enormous impactin securing our global biodiversity. The forests and other remnant habitats in hotspots represent just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface. But you’d be hard-pressed to find another 2.3% of the planet that’s more important. What’s a Hotspot? To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a regionmust meet two strict criteria: It must have at least 1,500 vascular plants as endemics — which is to say, it must have a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet. A hotspot, in other words, is irreplaceable.It must have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, it must be threatened. Around the world, 35 areas quality as hotspots. They represent just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s plant species as endemics — i.e., species found no place else — and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species as endemics. Conservation International was a pioneer in defining and promoting the concept of hotspots. In 1989, just one year after scientist Norman Myers wrote the paper that introduced the hotspots concept, CI adopted the idea of protecting these incredible places as the guiding principle of our investments. For nearly two decades thereafter, hotspots were the blueprint for CI’s work. Today, CI’s mission has expanded beyond the protection of hotspots. We recognize that it is not enough to protect species and places; for humanity to survive and thrive, the protection of nature must be a fundamental part of every human society. Yet the hotspots remain important in CI’s work for two important reasons: Biodiversity underpins all life on Earth. Without species, there would be no air to breathe, no food to eat, no water to drink. There would be no human society at all. And as the places on Earth where the most biodiversity is under the most threat, hotspots are critical to human survival. The map of hotspots overlaps extraordinarily well with the map of the natural places that most benefit people. That’s because hotspots are among the richest and most important ecosystems in the world— andthey are home to many vulnerable populations who are directly dependent on nature to survive. By one estimate, despite comprising 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, forests, wetlands and other ecosystems in hotspots account for 35% of the “ecosystem services” that vulnerable human populations depend on. (Note to students: a “hotspot” is a formal designation. An area must have at least 1,500 “endemic” species – meaning species of plants or animals that cannot be found elsewhere in the world. A “hotspot” also must be threatened – meaning its lost 70% or more of its original diversity.)
Indian Ocean is a global biodiversity hotspot. Marine knowledge key to conservation.
Jerome Bignon is the President of the French Agency for marine protected areas. He is quoted on page three of the book: Fishes of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea – by M. Taquet, A. Diringer – page 3.
Indeed, this practical guidebookabout fish helps address the need to develop knowledge about the marine environment.The Indian Ocean holds some of the hot spots of global biodiversity, including the Mozambique Channel. This book shows the biological diversity in these waters and clarifies the ecology of species there. It is an invaluable piece of work for managing this marine environment. France is especially accountable there, since 10 % of French waters are located in the Indian Ocean. Successfully protecting them will require knowledge and sharing it with decision-makers and all those who depend on the sea for their livelihood. This book contributes to that goal. As a newly-created public institution devoted to preserving the marine environment, it was natural that the Agency for marine protected areas support this initiative.
Natural Disasters/Tsumani Module
Natural Disasters are coming and put millions at risk. Improved forecasting is key to mitigation.
(et al; Professor Herbert Eric Huppert is an Australian-born geophysicist living in Britain. He has been Professor of Theoretical Geophysics and Foundation Director for The Institute of Theoretical Geophysics at Cambridge University since 1989 – “Extreme natural hazards: population growth, globalization and environmental change” – From the Journal: Philosophical Transactions A – Each issue of Philosophical Transactions A is devoted to a specific area of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences. This area will define a research frontier that is advancing rapidly, often bridging traditional disciplines. All articles are peer reviewed and edited to the highest standards. We currently publish 24 issues per year and, along with all Royal Society journals, we are committed to archiving and providing perpetual access. Aug 15th – Ev was modified for gendered language. I also added a comma in “10,000” to make the ev easier to read. http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1845/1875.long#aff-1)
(Hu)mankind is becoming ever more susceptible to natural disasters, largely as a consequence of population growth and globalization. It is likely that in the future, we will experience several disasters per year that kill more than 10,000 people. A calamity with a million casualties is just a matter of time.This situation is mainly a consequence of increased vulnerability. Climate change may also be affecting the frequency of extreme weather events as well as the vulnerability of coastal areas due to sea-level rise. Disastrous outcomes can only increase unless better ways are found to mitigate the effects through improved forecasting and warning, together with more community preparedness and resilience. There are particular difficulties with extreme events, which can affect several countries, while the largest events can have global consequences. The hazards of supervolcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts could cause global disaster with threats to civilization and deaths of billions of people. Although these are very rare events, they will happen and require consideration. More frequent and smaller events in the wrong place at the wrong time could have very large human, environmental and economic effects. A sustained effort is needed to identify places at risk and take steps to apply science before the events occur. The natural world can be a dramatic, dynamic and dangerous place. Life ultimately thrives on Earth because it is a dynamic planet, but the extremes of nature can threaten the survival of individuals, communities and even species. Every year television pictures and newspapers report scenes of devastation, despair and death caused by huge earthquakes, floods, droughts, cyclones, landslides and volcanic eruptions. The Asian tsunami, with around 250 000 deaths, huge economic losses and long-term damage to development programmes in the affected countries, brought home to the world the realities of the danger. We live in times of increasing vulnerability to extreme natural hazards. The Asian tsunami was a truly global disaster which affected not only many countries in the region, but also tourists from the developed world on holiday in southeast Asia. For example, the incident represented the greatest loss of life of Swedish citizens from a natural event. Again, Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in September 2005, had global effects on oil prices and showed that even the world's most powerful and wealthy country experiences difficulties with the extremes of nature.
Even small improvements forecasting data will save millions of lives
(et al – Professor John Rees – British Geological Survey; Natural Environment Research Council Natural Hazards Team Leader – “Anticipation of Geophysical Hazards” – Report produced for the Government Office of Science, Foresight project ‘Reducing Risks of Future Disasters: Priorities for Decision Makers’ – November 27th 2012 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/286641/12-1301-anticipation-of-geophysical-hazards.pdf)
The great majority of all natural hazard casualties in recent decades have been caused by geophysicalhazards - earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and landslides. Collectively these killed more than 2 million people in the 20th century and the death toll in the 21st century already approaches 0.75 million. The total economic loss in the 20th century adjusted for inflation exceeded $2 trillion, and in this century the loss already approaches $0.5 trillion1. Despite substantial increases in our understanding of these hazards, the rates of loss from them have increased progressively over time, largely because of increased societal exposure. The need for better geophysical science in disaster risk reduction is greater now than ever;even small advances have the potential to save millions of lives. We can see that past investment has brought notable benefits in recent decades; we have good examples to show that where we have focused research (e.g. on the geological hazards associated with Montserrat) our anticipatory skills have markedly increased. We now need to build further anticipatory geophysical programmes that will reduce the risk of disasters, savingbothlives and livelihoods. These should focus on plate boundaries and the Alpine-Himalayan belt systems and capitalize on recent observational technologies. If we do so it is reasonable to expect that improvements in understanding of these systems, and innovation, will substantially improve operational anticipatory services by 2040. However, this will rely on a concerted, global, scientific effort, not only on anticipating geophysical hazards, but ensuring that enhanced skills are built into risk reduction. This paper reviews the nature of the hazards and the relevant current science, focusing upon anticipation of the location, severity and timing of the most destructive events. It attempts to identify the most potentially fruitful research directions in terms of impact reduction as well as their successful application.
(Note to students: For this module, it will be important for the Aff to cite examples of how info might lead to better action. Info could tell us areas at particular risk – which might change building re-enforcements or advanced emergency planning).
Risk of another incident in Southeast Asia is uniquely high – geology proves.
(et al; Professor Herbert Eric Huppert is an Australian-born geophysicist living in Britain. He has been Professor of Theoretical Geophysics and Foundation Director for The Institute of Theoretical Geophysics at Cambridge University since 1989 – “Extreme natural hazards: population growth, globalization and environmental change” – From the Journal: Philosophical Transactions A – Each issue of Philosophical Transactions A is devoted to a specific area of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences. This area will define a research frontier that is advancing rapidly, often bridging traditional disciplines. All articles are peer reviewed and edited to the highest standards. We currently publish 24 issues per year and, along with all Royal Society journals, we are committed to archiving and providing perpetual access. Aug 15th – http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1845/1875.long#aff-1)
Earthquakes remain the most difficult of the natural hazards to predict and forecast. Areas at risk from earthquakes are mostly well-known and forensic geological and historical studies can identify fault zones that have accumulated strain over long periods of time. However, it is exceedingly difficult to provide predictions on the timing and magnitude of an earthquake. Pessimism about a universal rule for earthquake prediction is widespread among specialists (e.g. Jackson 2004; Kanamori 2006), and may be physically precluded, although there are counter views (Uyeda & Meguro 2004). Misconceptions have also been revealed by the Asian earthquake. For example, senior officials concluded that another very large magnitude earthquake would be unlikely in southeast Asia since the stress built up had been relieved.However, as detailed by Sieh (2006) and Kanamori (2006), large earthquakes are commonly followed by further large earthquakes in neighbouring regions. For example, stress transfer led to another rupture in theSumatra region on an adjacent segment of the fault in March 2005, triggering a magnitude 8.7 earthquake and a 3 m tsunami.The faults to the southeast of the epicentre of the Sumatran earthquake are still building up stress, and the chances of neighbouring faults also failing become greater not less. Sumatra remains a highly threatened region where investment in preparedness and mitigation may save many lives(Sieh 2006).
(Notes for students: When this ev references the “Asian earthquake” the author is referring to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The event took place on December 26th, 2004…. Tsunamis are just large tidal waves – and can be triggered by several events. That tsunami was triggered by an undersea earthquake. It was the 3rd largest earthquake ever recorded. It measured at 9.1 in magnitude. The “follow-up” earthquake referenced in this ev took place in March of 2005. It was also very large – measuring a 8.7 magnitude…. “Sumatra” – also mentioned in this ev – is an Indonesian island in the Indian Ocean).