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Chapter 1

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Department
Geography
Course
GG231
Professor
Alireza Ghaffari
Semester
Summer

Description
Risks and Disasters Reading #1 (Module 1) Chapter 1 pg 1-10 - Fundamental reality in study of natural hazards = people/gov’t poorly prepared for rare natural disasters - E.g., Haiti Earthquake o Jan 12, 2010 o Haiti = on Carribean lithospheric plate & at northern edge of carribean plate o @East – Carribean plate is subducting (moving beneath) the North America plate - Backdrop for a catastrophe o Lithosphere = slowly moving lithospheric plates o Earthquakes are common at and near plate boundaries  Spreading ridges – where new crust is created  Subduction zones – where one plate moves beneath another  Transform faults –where two plates move laterally and passing one another - Buildings of all types failed - Slopes of Haiti have slums, which lack proper foundations, so they slid down hillsides - Seaport ceased to function due to damage caused by liquefaction of loose, water-saturated sediment - Earthquakes the same size happen in different places – this one was so historic because: o Occurred in heavily populated area o Buildings in the area were not constructed to withstand strong seismic shakin  Access to resources is limited – people focus on this not disaster protocols etc. 1.1 Why Studying Natural Hazards Is Important - Financial loss, loss of life - No area is hazard free Hazardous Natural Processes and Energy Sources - Process = how events affect the earth’s surface  processes are driven by energy - 3 energy sources: o Earths internal heat  produces slow convection in the mantle  Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions  Most occur at boundaries between tectonic plates o The sun  warms Earth’s atmosphere and surface, producing winds and evaporating water  Circulation of winds/water = climate  Violent storms, floods, drought, coastal erosion o Gravitational attraction of Earth  attraction of surgace materials to center of the earth  Causes rock, soil, snow, to move downslope  Attracts stuff that strikes earths surface - Energy used by hazard varies (more area it affects generally means more energy used) - Not all hazards are natural – e.g., H1N1 in humans, warfare - Distinction becoming blurred Hazard, Risk, Disaster, and Catastrophe - Hazard: any natural process that threatens human life or property - Risk: the probability that a particular destructive event will occur multiplied by the event’s likely impact on people and property o Integrates hazard and social and economic vulnerability - Disaster & Catastrophe: events that cause serious injury, loss of life, and property damage over a limited time and within a specific geographic area. o Distinction is vague o Catastrope = more massive and affects more people/infrastructure o Disasters = regional/national vs. catastrophe = consequences felt far beyond that area itself - UN @ 1990’s = International Decade for Natural Hazards Reduction o To minimize loss of life and damage  loss actually iNCREASED o To achieve goals  mitigation necessary (mitigation = efforts to prepare)  E.g., to mitigate effects of contamination = deploy water treatment plants, disinfect, bottled water Death and Damage Caused by Natural Hazards - Tornadoes and windstorms cause the largest # of deaths each year in North America - Earthquakes don’t cause much loss of life but causes LOTS of property damage - Above relationship b/w loss and life and property damage apply only to fully developed world NA, EU, AU, JA, NZ - Disasters in developing countries claim much more lives - In NA disasters have huge toll on economy o E.g., Category 4 & 5 hurricanes cost billions - Natural hazards differ in potential to cause catastrophe b/c of difference in size of affected area o Climate change, super volcanoes, large meteorites = global repercussions o Large tsunami, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, monsoons, floods @ large rivers = regional effects o Landslides, avalanches, floods @ small streams, wildfires, tornadoes affect small areas - Natural hazard risks change over time b/c of changes in population and land use 1.2 Magnitude and Frequency of Hazardous Events - Impact: partly function of its magnitude/energy released, partly function of frequency - Magnitude-frequency concept: inverse exponential relationship exists b/w magnitude of an event and frequency o M = F  e-x o Magnitude, frequency, e, x = constant - MFC also = Earth’s surface is shaped mainly by events of moderate magnitude and frequency (vs. low/high) - Impact also influenced by climate, geology, vegetation, population and land use o E.g., Land Use – levees to reduce floods – larger more frequent floods  Hurricane Mitch & flood @ Yangtze river in China = b/c of deforestation (via forest fires & timber respectively)  2004 Tsunami – b/c of increased populations along shores of Indian ocean  Hurricane Katrina – removed Wetlands that could have buffered storm surge Chapter 1 pg 19-29 1.5 Fundamental Concepts for Understanding Natural Processes as Hazards 1. Hazards can be understood through scientific investigation and analysis Science and Natural Hazards - Scientific method = series of steps - Step 1 = formulate question  hypothesis = possible answer to the question, idea that is tested - Scientists info about frequency, magnitude, type + knowledge of frequency of past events = map future events - Search for precursors – e.g., foreshocks of earthquake Hazardous Processes Are Natural - Because the processes are natural, we face philosophical issues when trying to figu
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