301-005 Natural Disasters

301-005: Natural Disasters
Jason Moore ([email protected])
Group: Physical & Natural Sciences
Natural disasters have a profound and costly impact on humanity and so it is of great importance that we understand their
causes so as to better protect against their effects. In this course we will learn about the causes of the major natural disasters
(e.g. earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, bolide impacts, etc.), the processes that
influence their frequency and severity, their effects and ways to mitigate them, and our ability as scientists to predict them.
We will contrast our knowledge of these hazards with their representations in the mass media. Finally, we will create a
natural disaster hazard plan for a major global city to assess and quantify the natural risks to human life by location.
Silver 2010 - The Signal and the Noise
Gigerenzer 1996 - Reckoning with Risk
Human Rights and Natural Disasters (Brooks-Bern Project Report)
Mind the Risk (Swiss Re Disaster Insurance Report)
A collection of articles from the scientific literature relevant to each studied disaster
A collection of case studies describing the effects and recovery strategies from notable examples of each studied disaster
Excerpts from: Dante's Peak, Armageddon, Twister
After a brief introduction considering science, natural disasters in general, and the manners in which we can assess risk, we
will split the course into two-week blocks. During each block we will discuss a particular natural disaster, what controls its
occurrence and severity, what impacts it might have on human populations, and how we might mitigate these impacts. For
each disaster you will be required to calculate the risks to a particular major city, and your hometown. You will present on
two of these during the course of the semester. You will have to submit a final natural disaster management plan for your
city, stating the relative risks of each disaster, which you consider to be significant, and what steps should be taken to
mitigate these risks.
Jason Moore received his Ph.D. from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge in 2006. Much of his
research is concerned with the impact of major perturbations (for example natural disasters) on vertebrate faunas in the
fossil record. Most recently he has been working on improving our understanding of the impact event commonly thought
to have killed the dinosaurs.