Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 26 Oct 2017 by:

On 25 April 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, destroying buildings and infrastructure across 31 of Nepal’s 70 districts. Approximately 9,000 people lost their lives to the earthquake that day, 22,000 suffered from injuries, and eight million were affected.

I arrived in Kathmandu one week after the quake, as part of the World Bank disaster risk management team, to support the government of Nepal in various response and recovery activities.

In the days before getting on the plane, I worked with the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative to develop an initial earthquake impact estimate, based on an impact model I had already developed for Nepal.

I had been researching the seismic risk of Kathmandu for my PhD at Stanford. More specifically, I was...

Submitted on 24 Oct 2017 by:

Our Earth is warming. In fact, the planet’s average temperature has risen by 0.6°C over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 6°C over the next hundred years. Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather.

The evidence is clear. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by notable changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced major changes – oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising.

Sea-level rise is one of the more...

Submitted on 05 Jun 2017 by:

A new study from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) sheds new light on the 2015 Sabah earthquake. Published on 9 March 2017 in Geoscience Letters, the research paper provides a complete analysis of the quake and explains how it triggered the deadly landslides that killed seven children. It also finds that the fault system responsible for the quake has the potential to produce a magnitude-7.0 rupture, or larger, in the future. 

The magnitude-6.0 earthquake in Sabah was devastating mostly because it triggered landslides on Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain standing in Southeast Asia. The landslides killed 18 hikers and injured at least 21 more.

The quake came...

Submitted on 11 Mar 2017 by:

The devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake in northeastern Japan was a record-breaker on many levels. The magnitude-9.0 quake was Japan’s largest recorded and the world’s fourth biggest earthquake since 1900. Most terribly, it unleashed a 39-metre high tsunami, killing almost 16,000 people and causing a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The earthquake had effects on a global scale. Seismic waves caused icebergs to break off in Antarctica, water in Norwegian fjords to splash back and forth, and wreckage from the tsunami washed up along the North American coastline. Another global consequence? The quake shortened Earth’s day by 1.8 microseconds (µs) and shifted its figure axis by 17 centimetres (cm). 

Just to clear things up, our planet...