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 21 Dec 2017 by:

Dear EOS Community,

As the year comes to a close, I’d like to thank you for your continued interest and support in the research, initiatives and programs being conducted here at the Earth Observatory. Over the past year, your increased engagement has helped us to better understand your interests in geohazard research and provide content to meet them. From publications to awards and new blog series, here is a look back on a few highlights from 2017.

As data from the Mentawai Earthquake Gap—Tsunami Earthquake Risk Assessment (MEGA-TERA) marine expedition carried out in 2015 was being analysed and while new data from the Marine Investigation of the Rupture Anatomy of the 2012 Great Earthquake (MIRAGE) expedition was being collected in 2016, we were already planning a third...

Submitted on 17 Aug 2017 by:

When I was a kid, I was introduced to the tragedy that climate change can bring. Massive floods and superstorms ravaged New York City right before my eyes. ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ was showing on TV, and there in the living room, I received my first education on the threat of climate change.

Granted, the over-the-top depictions of climate change in the movie will make any climate scientist raise an eyebrow. But for myself and others my age, such movies were possibly our earliest and most gripping encounters with the concept of climate change.

The media continues to be important for making climate change feel relevant and interesting to people. This is, in part, due to the constant influence of media in our lives, and also because climate change can otherwise be...

Submitted on 11 Aug 2017 by:

In November 2016, I attended the Singapore Eco Film Festival, hoping to catch ‘SHADOWS: Saving the Rainforest’, a contemporary animated short film produced by the Earth Observatory of Singapore. ‘SHADOWS’ is inspired by wayang kulit (Indonesian shadow puppet theatre), and uses magical realism to tell a story about preserving the world’s forests. The storyline is innovative and the animation, mesmerising. I was struck by how I could be moved by a film in which not a single word was uttered. This made me wonder: How effective is conventional scientific communication in shaping public perceptions of climate change?

While I was previously aware of the rampant deforestation central to many...

Submitted on 03 Aug 2017 by:

Most people would agree that Singapore is quite clean compared to other countries in the region. The government has focused on the ‘Keep Singapore Clean’ movement since 1968. The movement is active even until today, to encourage the public to keep Singapore clean.

In 1990, the concepts of ‘clean’ and ‘green’ were brought together for a Clean and Green Week campaign. This campaign has been a yearly affair ever since, and has evolved into the present Clean and Green Singapore campaign initiated by the National Environment Agency, and centred on...

Submitted on 05 May 2017 by:

Different rainforest trees grow on an island called Siberut; one of four big islands of the Mentawai Archipelago located off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Katuka is what Mentawaians call one family of these dipterocarp trees. These trees have very hard wood and are widely used for construction and crafting.

I want to tell you the story of one katuka tree in particular. This 400-year-old tree will soon surrender its life to serve the needs of the people. 

A Giant Falls

As the sun rises over Siberut Island, a Mentawaian called Aman Ani and his fellow villagers sharpen their axes. They prepare their meals, as well as an offering for the forest spirits. Later, they sit quietly in a motorised canoe as they cruise upstream. Some of them are...

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 13 Mar 2016 by:

Asia and the Pacific are most at risk from natural disasters, according to a report from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. More than 90 million people worldwide were affected by natural disasters in 2015. Asia is the world’s most disaster-prone continent, with 152 out of the 346 reported disasters worldwide. This isn’t surprising, given that it is both geologically active and the most populous region on Earth. In the last few decades, earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons were among the deadliest natural hazards in the world. In 2015, earthquakes topped the list; the magnitude-7.8 Nepal earthquake in April claimed more than 8,000 lives, causing widespread damage in Gorkha and its surrounding areas. Earlier this year, the earthquake in Taiwan saw more than a hundred...