Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 18 Mar 2021 by:

Singapore is known as one of the safest places in the world. Why, then, would we choose Singapore as a case study for developing new methods for disaster risk reduction?

People tend to be surprised when a natural hazard occurs and shocked when disastrous impacts follow. We wanted to create a new framework that can help preempt such surprise. We developed a guided process to explore potential outcomes that we do not naturally want to consider due to our optimistic human nature. And, regarded as one of the world’s safest countries, where could be a more surprising location for a disaster to happen other than Singapore?

First, we needed to better quantify and understand the past disasters Singapore has experienced. We started by looking into the past records of...

Submitted on 04 Feb 2021 by:

Some are round, some are elongated, and their colours vary from off-white to shades of grey, but they all come from the seafloor of Singapore dating back to 10,000 years ago. Tiny shells, remnants of long-dead organisms, were carefully picked and arranged to compose beautiful award-winning photographs. 

Ms Yu Ting Yan, a PhD candidate working with the Coastal Lab from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), was recently recognised for two beautiful photographs featuring microscopic shells from Singapore.

Her image of a perfect heart-shaped assemblage of shells was selected as a winner of the 2020/21 Microfossil Image Competition organised by The...

Submitted on 21 Dec 2020 by:

In conversation with Dr Karen Lythgoe, Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore


1. What area of earth science do you study and monitor?

I am a seismologist at the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, where I monitor and study earthquake hazards and sub-surface imaging both for the deep and the shallow earth. I apply seismology to important Earth science problems, including earthquake processes, Earth structure and dynamics, and smart city development.

2. What opportunities exist to capture heat from the deep earth to create low carbon energy and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases?

Recently there was ...

Submitted on 01 Dec 2020 by:

The activity of Ili Lewotolok (or Lewotolo) volcano ramped up on 29 November 2020 with a series of eruptions. The largest of these eruptions occurred at about 9:45am local/Singapore time (1:45am UTC) and sent a gas and ash plume more than 5 kilometres (km) into the atmosphere. This powerful eruption was recorded by the infrasound network from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS).

Scientists from EOS use infrasound sensors to remotely characterise volcanic eruptions. Even if Ili Lewotolok volcano is about 2,500 km away from Singapore, the eruption on 29 November produced a clear infrasound signal on the Singapore Infrasound Array. The same...

Submitted on 19 Nov 2020 by:

Typhoon Goni (Rolly in the Philippines) caused more than 20 fatalities in the Philippines earlier this month. Just a few days later, Typhoon Vamco (Ulysses) struck the Philippines again, then Vietnam on the other side of the South China Sea. “It is fairly common for more than one storm to occur in an ocean basin at the same time”, said Associate Professor Adam Switzer, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore. “Since typhoon season in Asia runs into the new year, there is unfortunately a real chance of further storms in the region before the end of 2020”, Assoc Prof Switzer added.

Typhoons form under specific sets of conditions between the ocean and the atmosphere. For example, warm sea...

Submitted on 23 Sep 2020 by:

In conversation with Fangyi Tan, PhD student, Sea Level Research team at the Earth Observatory of Singapore


1. Will melting ice sheets in such quantities pose a threat to Southeast Asia in the future? 

recent study found that the Earth has lost a staggering 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017. The scientists commented in a related news article that the melting of glaciers and ice sheets could cause sea levels to rise by as much as a metre by the end of this century.

One metre may not sound like a lot...

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 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 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...