EARTHSC 2GG3 Lecture 1: Earth Sci 2GG3 Entire Course Notes Part 1

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Natural Hazards and Disasters
What is the importance of natural disasters
How are disasters defined
Can we predict when “natural” hazards will happen
Why do people live where they live
Cultural, economic, frivolous, past forgotten
Definition
Natural Hazard – Natural Process which poses threat to human life or
property
Natural Disaster – Natural Event that causes significant damage to life or
property
Catastrophe – Natural Even that kills or injures large numbers of people or
causes major property damage
Potential Impact – Relates to size of event and location
High damage if heavily populated area and vise versa
Forecast - probability that a natural event of a particular magnitude will
happen within a certain recurrence interval or frequency, on average … not
fixed schedule
Exposure – Degree to which a particular hazard or phenomenon can occur
Sensitivity – potential degree to which an individual or community could be
affected by a natural hazard
Vulnerability – degree to which a person, community, or system is adversely
affected by a hazard (= Exposure + Sensitivity)
Mitigation – taking actions to physically reduce exposure of the community
to the hazard
Adaptation – Accepting that the hazard will occur or that it cannot be
completely mitigated or eliminated, taking actions to reduce the impact and
the communities sensitivity and vulnerability
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Dramatic Hazards (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes)
less frequent and cause fewer deaths than floods and droughts (everyone
exposed)
Safety measures decrease deaths over time, but more and more people are
now in the path of catastrophic events  greatest economic loss in
developed countries, deaths in emerging is increasing
Magnitude (size) of an event is inversely proportional to its frequency
Many small events, few large events, less giant events
Event frequency is plotted on a log scale  straight line easy to get info
Geologic features are fractal: look the same regardless of size
Small events provide insight to large events
Some events influence others
Can overlap and reinforce each other to amplify effects
Planning can restrict development in disaster prone areas
Usually too late, heavily populated, political opposition, infringement of
rights
Government needs to research nature and behavior of hazards to predict
events and mitigate damage and loss of life
Approaches to Mitigation and Adaptation
Affecting the Cause
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Reducing likelihood hazard will occur
Modify the Hazard
Mitigating by constructing engineering solutions or relocating people /
communities
Modify the Loss Potential
Mitigation and adaptation measures that reduce sensitivity and vulnerability,
both economic and social, to a hazard
Spread the loss
Adaptation measures to distribute economic loss among a broader group
Planning for the loss
Adaptation measures to budget for the economic or social cost that a hazard
could potentially cause
Bear the Loss
Geophysical Hazards
Caused by earth – tsunamis, earthquakes
Hydro meteorological
Water cycle - Floods, Wildfires
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