Anticipation of geophysical hazards

Anticipation of geophysical hazards
Document type
Rees, John; Loughlin, Sue; Tappin, David
Date of publication
27 November 2012
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Business and management
Material type

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The great majority of all natural hazard casualties in recent decades have been caused by geophysical hazards - earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and landslides. 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. Past investment has brought notable benefits in recent decades and our anticipatory skills have markedly increased. Further anticipatory geophysical programmes that will reduce the risk of disasters are now needed to save both lives and livelihoods. These should focus on plate boundaries and the Alpine-Himalayan belt systems and capitalize on recent observational technologies. 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.

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