Associate Professor Fidel Costa
Interim Director, Earth Observatory of Singapore
A deepening comprehension of our planet processes, resources and history is needed to cope with the major challenges of a restless Earth: as long as we do not fully understand how our dynamic planet works, we are susceptible to disasters.
Natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and global climate change pose great threats to our rapidly expanding populations all over the world. The devastations of Acehnese and Thai coasts in 2004, of Kashmir and New Orleans in 2005, of southwest Java in 2006, of Sumatra again in 2007, of Sichuan and Myanmar in 2008, of Haiti in 2010 and of Japan in 2011 are recent examples of our vulnerability and our exposure.
Southeast Asia is, of course, no exception: during the first decade of the 21st century it has suffered numerous catastrophic events. The region faces also the lurking threat of sea-level rise whose long-term local effects are still unknown.
In 2009 the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) was officially launched, with the broad goal to conduct fundamental research on geohazards in and around Southeast Asia, toward safer and more sustainable societies.
EOS has therefore two purposes: acquiring scientific knowledge on some of the most complex natural phenomena, and passing this knowledge on to affected populations so they can use it effectively and in timely fashion.
The Earth Observatory is well-positioned to face these challenges. Building on our research teams of international stature, we intend to help blaze new paths through the fascinating mysteries of this dangerous, dynamic, thin shell of our planet that we call home. Through our outreach activities we increase awareness of our planet and geohazards everyday, to help ensure a more sustainable human presence in Southeast Asia and to make the world a safer place.