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Question: How good are we at predicting natural disasters?

Question: How good are we at predicting natural disasters?. Hurricane Mitch, 1998. Red River Flood at Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1997. Answer: Not very. How Natural are Natural Disasters?. Hazards and a changing environment are intimately linked

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Question: How good are we at predicting natural disasters?

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  1. Question: How good are we at predicting natural disasters? Hurricane Mitch, 1998 Red River Flood at Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1997

  2. Answer:Not very

  3. How Natural are Natural Disasters? • Hazards and a changing environment are intimately linked • Changing environment is linked to human-induced global warming • Our society is becoming increasingly vulnerable to any disaster

  4. A combination of (1) greater reliance on fragile infrastructures of increasing vulnerability, (2) population growth in coastal floodplains, and (3) global-warming influences suggests that more of the population will be affected by natural disasters in the future(McGuire, Mason, and Kilburn)

  5. The frequency and strength of El Niño events has increased, and this increase has occurred in association with global warming

  6. Global warming since 1880(www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global )

  7. Global warming is particularly intense in the Arctic regions

  8. •The 1998 Ice Storm inflicted 5 billion dollars in economic damage in Both Canada and the US •It occurred during the 1998 El Niño event (global warming) •It would not have had as much economic impact 100 years ago (increasing vulnerability of society)

  9. Hurricane Andrew spawned the growth of the reinsurance industry (reinsurers insure insurance companies against catastrophic losses)

  10. Damage inflicted by Juan to Nova Scotia (Sept. 30, 2003); courtesy of Environment Canada

  11. Juan was only a Category 1 hurricaneMuch stronger hurricanes will affect these same areas…it is only a question of ‘when’, and not ‘if’ such an event will occur

  12. Global warming is also associated with an increase in Sea-surface temperatures • An increase in SST will result in more, particularly intense hurricanes • It is inevitable that stronger hurricanes will strike a coastal city (recall that Andrew’s 30 billion dollar price tag would have been up to 100 billion had it shifted its track just a few km)

  13. In fact, the 2005 Hurricane season was the most active on record. Consider Katrina of 2005. Current estimates of economic losses exceed 100 billion dollars (US).

  14. Katrina, Monday 29 August 2005, 0715 hours Zulu time

  15. Courtesy Washington Post

  16. Courtesy Washington Post

  17. Katrina reaches Montreal

  18. Fragile cities Megacities are practically predestined for risks. Whether the risks are natural catastrophes, weather, environment, health or terrorism, megacities are more vulnerable than rural areas. -Munich Re

  19. Growth of megacities, 1950-2015

  20. The three most costly (people and economics) disasters in history? • World Trade Center, New York, 2001 • Banda Aceh earthquake and tsunami, 2004 • Hurricane Katrina, 2005 • Implications for cities and megacities

  21. Additional meteorological hazards associated with a changing climate • More tornadoes (increased water vapour from warmer SSTs) • More intense mid-latitude (winter) storms • More wet spells and probability of flooding (increased precipitation at middle latitudes in the winter) • More drought (less soil moisture in the summer)

  22. Sea level rise (New York City)

  23. Human actions

  24. California wildfires October 2003

  25. Scripps ranch subdivision near San Diego:urban penetration into chaparral forest

  26. A pocket of the Scripps Ranch subdivision that by luck survived

  27. Treat yourself to a nice vacation you so richly deserve...

  28. …while it’s still around

  29. Consider the fate of a similarly-esteemed building from Camille in 1969:

  30. Desperate measures on east coast beaches (Westhampton beach, Long Island, New York) 6 Aug 1993 3 Jan 1993, a few weeks after Dec 92 storm Top inlet more open, bottom inlet closed artificially 2 inlets opened

  31. 2000: beach “restored”, complete with (vulnerable) houses 1996: after beach restoration (millions of dollars)

  32. Living on the edge: near San Francisco

  33. Unbridled development near San Francisco: implications for earthquake (and landslide, fire) vulnerability 1950 map 1980 map

  34. What to do?

  35. Ignorance, Apathy, Indifference

  36. Conclusions • Meteorological events are likely to increase because of human-induced global warming • The impacts of these events are likely to be greater because an increase in vulnerability • Greater percentage of population moving into floodplain and coastal regions • Lack of monetary resources to build safe housing in such areas • Lack of education to build an awareness of any threat to the community by natural hazards

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