• TerrorismWhy the U.K.’s Terrorism Threat Level Has Been Raised and What Happens Now

    By Alasdair Booth

    Most parts of the UK are now living in a state of some form of lockdown. Meanwhile, however, more police are out on the streets. This is because in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Austria and France, the UK’s terrorism threat level has been raised to “severe.”

  • AlertsAction-Led Alerts Effective in Natural Disasters

    Is an “evacuate now” text message more likely to initiate action by the receiver than “you will be impacted by a flood” in a natural disaster emergency such as bushfire and flood? “Words are powerful during natural hazard emergencies and it is important to use words and phrases that are understood to avoid panic, message desensitization, and guide safe risk assessment and response.”

  • Epidemic alert systemsU.K. Government’s Tiered COVID-19 Alert Systems Are All Flawed, Warns Disaster Expert

    By Carina Fearnley

    Alert systems need to be clear and easy for everyone to understand. Yet, to date, the UK’s national alert system has created confusion and been largely ignored. Now, a second local alert level system has been introduced in England. I’m not convinced it will do any better.

  • Seismic noiseSeismic Background Noise Drastically Reduced Due to COVID-19 Lockdown Measures

    Global COVID-19 “lockdown” measures - the quarantines, physical isolation, travel restrictions and widespread closures of services and industry that countries around the world have implemented in 2020 - resulted in a months-long reduction in global seismic noise by up to 50 percent, representing the longest and most prominent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history.

  • MegadisastersComing Soon? A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters

    By Kevin Krajick

    When it comes to calamities, Jeffrey Schlegelmilch thinks big. In his upcoming book, Rethinking Readiness: A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters, he explores menaces that potentially could change not just lives or communities, but entire societies. He groups these into five categories: climate change; cyber threats; nuclear war; failures of critical infrastructure such as electric grids; and biological perils including pandemics. Schlegelmilch answered questions about megadisasters in light of recent events.

  • FloodsFlood Bot: New Flood Warning Sensors

    Ellicott City, Maryland, suffered devastating floods in 2016 and 2018. The disasters left residents and officials wondering how technology could help predict future severe weather, and save lives and property. Scientists offer an answer: The Flood Bot network.

  • EarthquakesA Step Closer to Being Able to Forecast Earthquakes

    Scientists identify specific conditions that cause tectonic plates to slowly creep underneath one another rather than generate potentially catastrophic earthquakes. This could potentially contribute to solving one of the greatest challenges that faces seismologists, which is to be able to forecast earthquakes with enough precision to save lives and reduce the economic damage that is caused.

  • Seismic warningsSeparating Industrial Noise from Natural Seismic Signals

    For the first time, seismologists can characterize signals as a result of some industrial human activity on a continent-wide scale using cloud computing. A transformative, cloud-computing approach to analyzing data helps researchers better understand seismic activity.

  • VolcanoesMount St. Helens’ 1980 Eruption Changed Volcanology

    If scientists armed with today’s monitoring tools and knowledge could step back in time to the two months before 18 May 1980, they would have been able to better forecast the forthcoming devastating eruption.

  • EarthquakesPreparing for the Big One: Oregon to Fund ShakeAlert

    With a vision for preparing the state for a large Cascadia earthquake, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced on Monday a resiliency agenda for the upcoming legislative session that would include $7.5 million in funding to the University of Oregon to build out the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system.

  • VolcanosCould the New Zealand Volcanic Eruption Have Benn Predicted?

    The agency that monitors geological activity in New Zealand, GeoNet, had issued warnings that a volcano off the country’s North Island was showing signs of “moderate volcanic unrest” but it might not have been possible to predict that it would suddenly erupt on Monday, according to geologists.

  • New Zealand volcanoNo More Survivors Expected after New Zealand Volcano Erupts

    Five people were confirmed dead and eighteen others injured, with many more missing, after a volcano erupted on Monday afternoon while dozens of cruise ship passengers were exploring White Island, a small, picturesque, uninhabited island of the coast of New Zealand.

  • New Zealand volcanoWhy White Island Erupted and Why There Was No Warning

    By Shane Cronin

    White Island is one of several volcanoes in New Zealand that can produce sudden explosive eruptions at any time. In this case, magma is shallow, and the heat and gases affect surface and ground water to form vigorous hydrothermal systems. In these, water is trapped in pores of rocks in a super-heated state. Any external process, such as an earthquake, gas input from below, or even a change in the lake water level can tip this delicate balance and release the pressure on the hot and trapped water. The resulting steam-driven eruption, also called a hydrothermal or phreatic eruption, can happen suddenly and with little to no warning.

  • EarthquakesUnderwater Telecom Cables to Be Used as Seismic Detection Network

    About 70 percent of Earth’s surface lies under the sea, which means that, until now, most of the Earth’s surface had been largely without early-warning seismic detection stations. Scientists say that fiber-optic cables that constitute a global undersea telecommunications network could one day help in studying offshore earthquakes.

  • Perspective: Conspiracy theoryEarthquake Conspiracy Theorists Are Wreaking Havoc During Emergencies

    Scientists have been trying hard to be able to predict earthquakes, because accurately predicting an earthquake would save lives, decrease property damage, and allow people to have some measure of control over one of nature’s most frightening and unpredictable events. Scientific predictions of the location and time of specific tremors are modest in scope – which have created an opening for earthquake conspiracy theorists who “claim that they have discovered the key to accurate quake prediction, as well as the hidden secrets behind why these tremors happen,” Anna Merlan writes.