Lecture 1 - Hazards Hazards affect millions of people...

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Hazards Hazards affect millions of people around the world each year. Within North America, every location is at risk from at least one hazardous process. Examples West coast: earthquakes , landslides East coast: hurricanes Mid-continent: tornadoes, blizzards All areas: drought
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Hazards Some hazards pose a risk to both humans and the environment. Examples: -nuclear meltdowns -toxic gas release -oil spills -ozone depletion -acid rain -infrastructure failure -shipwrecks -airplane crashes
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Processes and Natural Hazards Natural hazards can arise from three main processes: Internal forces within the Earth -driven by the internal energy of the Earth Eg: plate tectonics External forces on Earth’s surface -driven by the sun’s energy Eg: atmospheric effects Gravitational attraction -driven by the force of gravity Eg: downslope movement
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Definitions Hazard A process that poses a potential threat to people or the environment Risk The probability of an event occurring multiplied by the impact on people or the environment Disaster A brief event that causes great property damage or loss of life Catastrophe A massive disaster
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Examples of Recent Catastrophes 1. Tsunami in Thailand/Indonesia 2. Tsunami in Japan 3. Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans 4. Haiti earthquake 5. Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico
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Hazards as Potential Catastrophes Hazards differ in their potential to cause a catastrophe based on the size of the area affected. More likely to be catastrophic: Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods Less likely to be catastrophic: Landslides, avalanches, wildfires, tornadoes
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Magnitude and Frequency The impact of a hazard is a function of both its magnitude (i.e. energy released) and frequency. It can also be effects by other factors (geology, land use, population density, etc.) Magnitude-Frequency Concept There is an inverse relationship between magnitude and frequency.
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Understanding the Risk of Hazards The history of an area can provide insight on its risk of hazards. The following provide clues: -maps, historic documents, journals, aerial photos -weather and climate data -craters, faults, valleys
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The Geologic Cycle Throughout Earth’s 4.6 billion year history, the materials on or near the surface have been created and modified by physical and chemical processes.
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