Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 19 Apr 2018 by:

Earthquakes continue to cause tremendous damage and casualties around the world. Contrary to other geophysical hazards, such as storms and floods, seismic hazards still elude short-term prediction. This is due, on the one hand, to our limited understanding of how rocks deform and break; and on the other hand, by the difficulty of probing Earth's interior to determine the physical parameters of a given fault.

To improve our understanding of how earthquakes are generated, a useful approach is to confront our hypotheses with a combination of laboratory experiments, field observations, and theoretical predictions.

The monitoring of plate boundaries with seismometers and GPS instruments, together with the development of increasingly sophisticated laboratory experiments...

Submitted on 15 Apr 2018 by:

One year ago, scientists and science advocates from across the globe were moved to march in the streets. It was a reactionary move, spurred by administration changes in the United States and the growing threat of reversals in global environment policies, funding, and education relating to climate change.

What has happened since then? Well, quite a bit actually. The United States withdrew from the Paris accord and in response, state leaders came together and formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue advancing the objectives of the Paris agreement, despite the...

Submitted on 30 Mar 2018 by:

625 million people worldwide live in low elevation coastal zones (LECZ). By 2060, the LECZ population is likely to approach 1.4 billion people. These low-lying coastal regions, many of them in Southeast Asia (>70% of total LECZ population), are vulnerable to sea-level rise brought about by climate change. Changing sea-level is an inevitable consequence of climate change caused by a combination of the increased water mass and volume in the oceans. Recent climate warming is responsible for producing the highest rate of sea-level rise observed in the past few millennia and it is expected that this acceleration will continue through the 21st century and beyond. Future sea-level changes will be spatially variable and consequently risk assessment should be based on regional rather...

Submitted on 21 Apr 2017 by:

In honour of Earth Day, I’m calling attention to the reality of climate change around the world. We know that the planet’s climate is warming from many data sources. Ice cores, corals, ocean sediments, and tree rings tell the story of Earth’s climate over the past 800,000 years. Orbital satellites, sea surface temperature readings, and weather stations have recorded change over the past century. They all say the same thing: the planet is warming at an extraordinary rate.

Last year was the hottest on record. It’s the third year in a row to set a new high for the yearly...

Submitted on 02 Dec 2016 by:

Several people who felt the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit New Zealand earlier this month also witnessed a strange phenomenon — lights flashing across the sky in a range of colours.

These so-called earthquake lights are odd flashes that seemingly coincide with earthquakes. They come in different colours and forms, from floating balls of light to lightning that bolts out of the ground. People have been reporting earthquake lights for thousands of years; the first known account dates back to 373 BCE in ancient Greece. Oftentimes, these mysterious lights have been mistaken for UFOs.

Geophysicists are still unclear on...