Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 08 Jul 2020 by:

A commentary by Professor Benjamin Horton (Earth Observatory of Singapore) and Emeritus Professor Perter Horton (University of Sheffield), published online on 7 July 2020 in One Earth, looks at how the current COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are signs of the unsustainability of human society and the decreasing resilience of our ailing planet.

Titled “COVID-19 and the Climate Emergency: Do Common Origins and Solutions Reside in the Global Agrifood System?”, the authors discuss whether both events have the same underlying causes and common solutions, and whether they might be rooted in a failing global agrifood system.

Citing declining...

Submitted on 02 Jul 2020 by:

On 22 December back in 2018, Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau volcano erupted. The collapse of its flank triggered a tsunami that killed more than 400 and injured at least 30,000 people. 

To understand how the events of that day unfolded with such catastrophic effect, an international research team led by Research Associate Anna Perttu from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) turned to the data collected from monitoring stations from all around the region, official reports, as well as satellite and visual observations.

Eruptions produce a wide range of signals. Humans can see and hear some of them only when close enough to the eruption. Monitoring instruments help fill the gap. Satellites can be used to image volcanic plumes that are too high or obstructed from an...

Submitted on 15 Jun 2020 by:

The first results from Singapore’s first island-wide seismic survey unravel some important features of Singapore’s underground.

In March of last year, a team at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) recorded the ground movements of Singapore using 88 seismometers placed in locations such as schools, parks and weather stations.

We collected a vast quantity of fascinating data using distant earthquakes to image Singapore’s subsurface, and our first set of results were recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Seismologists use a technique called receiver functions to look at boundaries between different rocks...

Submitted on 05 Jun 2020 by:

Rising from the muddy depths of Singapore’s tropical swamps, the distinctive roots of the mangrove trees lie draped in a descending curve – with some parts of the roots buried in the wet soil, and other parts exposed to the humid air. 

Because home along the coast is consistently flooded with sea water brought in by the tides, mangrove trees need to have a part of their roots above water to help them breathe in a waterlogged environment that is often low in oxygen. It is this distinct vertical accretion in their growth that makes mangrove trees incredibly important in our fight against climate change.

The mangrove ecosystem is an intriguing, intricate one that allows its trees to adapt to high temperature and salinity levels. As a dense forest, the tangled...

Submitted on 21 May 2020 by:

Did you know that in the past six weeks six volcanoes in Indonesia erupted? These volcanoes are Semeru, Anak Krakatau, Merapi, Kerinci, Dukono, and Ibu. 

These recent eruptions are part of the usual volcanic bustle in Indonesia, impacting mostly the areas close to the volcanoes. While some of these activities were picked up all the way in Singapore, all were reported to aviation authorities.

Issuing Eruption Notifications

The Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazards Mitigation (CVGHM), the monitoring agency for Indonesian volcanoes, issued a Volcano Observatory Notification for Aviation (VONA) on each eruption. The notification includes a summary of the volcanic activity, the...

Submitted on 19 May 2020 by:

With schools and most non-essential services closed due to the circuit breaker measures, many households are going digital as they learn and work from home. We've prepared a virtual care package where you can access online resources on earth science, and we've included apps for children who are above four years of age to spark their curiosity about our natural environment.

Visit the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, tour the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C, listen to podcasts on geology and other science topics, or even visualise what it would be like if Singapore were to be submerged underwater. Whether you're a student, a parent, an educator, or someone who is interested in earth science, these online resources will help you explore Earth from...

Submitted on 14 May 2020 by:

Pandemics & Natural Hazards is a special series for the EOS Blog which looks at the compounding impacts of coinciding disasters. This third commentary is a contribution from EOS’ Centre for Geohazard Observations.

The daily coverage of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the media has given the public an insight into how the crisis has impacted the healthcare sector. We’ve seen footage of hospitals inundated with stricken patients, hospital staff begging for supplies, and the global race to find the medical holy grail of the moment – a COVID-19 vaccine.

But what about the other sectors of science that are not directly linked to the coronavirus? How are they coping with, even transforming in, this pandemic and the ensuing cross-border lockdowns?

Submitted on 04 May 2020 by:

Pandemics & Natural Hazards is a special series for the EOS Blog which looks at the compounding impacts of coinciding disasters. This second commentary is contributed by EOS Principal Investigator Professor Benjamin Horton.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which is sweeping the globe infecting 7.6 million and causing the death of 424,472 (as of 12 June 2020) has understandably superseded the issue that dominated the news, social media, political activity, business practice, and academic research for much of 2019 – the climate emergency.

But it is useful to consider, are these two issues related, do they both have the same underlying causes, and can the solutions be the same?

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is believed to have originated at wildlife markets...

Submitted on 27 Apr 2020 by:

Pandemics & Natural Hazards is a special series for the EOS Blog which looks at the compounding impacts of coinciding disasters. This first commentary is contributed by EOS' Hazards, Risks, and Society Group.

The current novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the ease with which healthcare capacity can be overwhelmed and what we consider ‘normal’ can be turned upside down. This isn’t the first infectious disease to threaten southeast Asia (and the world) and it won’t be the last.

In 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) provided a hint at the impact contagious diseases can have on normal operations. However, SARS spread more slowly and was much less infectious than COVID-19.

Following 2003, the emergence of a more contagious...

Submitted on 18 Apr 2020 by:

A higher frequency of unusual weather conditions caused by global warming has melted the Greenland ice sheet by 600 billion tonnes, raising the world’s watermark by 1.5 milimetres – which is about 40 per cent of the total rise in sea level in 2019.

How will this affect Singapore? “Low-lying coastal cities and nations, like Singapore, should be very concerned about the extreme melting in Greenland and Antarctica,” said Professor Benjamin Horton, Chair of the Asian School of the Environment and a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore. “If the ice...