We are yet to discover the dimensions of the natural disaster that hit Japan 11th March 2011. Judging from the scientific numbers (earthquake 8.9, tsunami wave heights up to 10 m) and heartbreaking images from Japan, we can all the same safely say that the human and material losses will be enormous.
In crisis like this all means are activated in order to mitigate the destructions. Even though Japan is arguably one of, if not The best prepared society when it comes to handling natural disasters, situated right on “The Ring of Fire”, no single nation is able to manage disasters of such dimensions without support from the international community.
Through the International Charter Space and Major Disasters, some 20 Earth observation satellites can be activated to support mitigation of the effect of disasters like the earthquake in New Zealand and now as of yesterday the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.
NASA has already established a website where images for non-professionals (like journalists in this context). The operational professionals managing the disaster get more detailed information they can integrate with other information that form the basis for critical decision-making.
See my video on : Earthquake Science in a study of Haiti in the Ring of Fire http://astrocast.tv/blog/?p=3743
Haiti Earthquake & Earthquake Science in “The Ring of Fire” – We take a closer look at the science of Haiti earthquake of 12th February 2009 – as well as other earthquakes. For the first time here on GSGE we interview leading experts;
Prof. Timothy Dixon from Geodesy Lab at University of Miami: published an article already back in 1998 revealing the risks of earthquakes in Haiti. He works with both Paul Mann from University of Texas who in 2008 confirmed that the risks were eminent, and Eric Calais, Purdue University who manages the GPS network that monitor tectonic plate movements in Haiti. These three groups have sent geodesists with GPS equipment, while also maintaining a blog. See below.
Ass. Prof. William Hammond from University of Nevada in Reno: Explains how they use GPS to monitor plate movements – and earthquake swarms.
Dr. Amir Kaynia from the International Centre for Geohazards in Oslo, Norway: Talks about the difference between predictions and early warning and discuss other geohazards connected to earthquakes.
National Science Foundation’s GPS team blog from Haiti:
GEO’s Haiti Supersite. Collection of Haiti earthquake science information.
Eric Calais (responsible for the tectonic plate movements Haitian GPS network together with local Haitian authorities).
Haiti Earthquake at University of Miami
Haiti Earthquake at University of Texas.
The International Centre for Geohazards:
This month A Green Space – A Green Earth focus on disaster mitigation and early warnings and how space based Earth observations contributes to safe-guard lives and property. See Video
New satellite techniques such as InSAR complement GPS in unraveling in fine details crustal movements of the Earth. ESA’s GOCE gravity measurements from space will add knowledge to our understanding of sub-surface movements leading up to earthquakes. Through observing Earth from space before, during and after earthquakes we improve disaster mitigation and early warnings.
Learn more about earthquakes and the examples mentioned in this episode through the following links:
Global Earthquake Model – A OECD program
Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster 2004 – A portal for more information at University of Buffalo, NY, USA
Wenchuan, China earthquake 2008 – A portal for maps and geophysical information about the earthquake
L’Aquila, Italy earthquake 2009 in pictures – A collection of images in Boston Globe.
You may have heard something about the degree to which the large earthquake in Chile may have effected the tilt of the Earth and the rotation of the Earth. There has been a lot of nonsense on the web about these effects. Today, NASA scientist Dr. Tony Philips released a report about this issue. To learn more about it, go to his science webpage here.