Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 24 Nov 2020 by:

Earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and floods are some of the hazards we live with. But we can lessen the impacts of these hazards on our lives and livelihoods by following Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies. These strategies help societies prepare and respond to hazards, and therefore reduce the associated risks. DRR can happen at all levels, from individual actions to international agreements.

Disaster risk was the focal point of the APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Virtual Summer School 2020. Held over three days on 15, 22, and 22 July 2020, the summer school was organised by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS).

Usually held at Tohoku University and involving lectures and...

Submitted on 14 Jul 2020 by:

In conversation with Professor Benjamin Horton, Director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore 


1. How might a breach of the 1.5°C Paris Agreement in the next five years impact Southeast (SE) Asia?

This week a new report released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows there is a 1 in 5 chance annual global temperatures will be at least 1.5°C warmer than in pre-industrial times in the next 5 years. This is very worrying to the planet. From the Paris Agreement, we needed to keep our temperatures below a 2°C temperature rise before the end of this century. The importance of the Paris Agreement cannot be understated.

If we go beyond the Paris Agreement we will cause a destabilisation of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets, it will include...

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 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 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 13 Apr 2020 by:

“When would be the next eruption?” is a recurring question posed to volcanologists. And it is a challenging one to answer as many processes over different timescales are at play before an eruption. 

Published in Nature Reviews on 1 April 2020, a new study led by Associate Professor Fidel Costa, the Interim Director and a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, reviews how the Diffusion Chronometry method can reliably determine the timescales of volcanic...

Submitted on 20 Sep 2019 by:

At home and abroad there is increasing agreement that we are facing an existential environmental crisis. Death, destruction, and disruption by extreme weather events, haze from forest fires, and contamination of oceans by plastic waste have dramatically increased the awareness of environmental degradation, and given rise to a realisation that the conclusions from decades of scientific research, and the dire predictions arising from it, indeed point to a considerable challenge to society.  

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in the 2019 National Day Rally speech that “climate change is one of the gravest challenges the human race faces and Singapore is already feeling its impact – which is likely to worsen over the next few decades”. 

Last week...

Submitted on 27 Jun 2019 by:

Social media has found itself a heavyweight role in geology. By scraping Twitter and mining text data in Tweets, scientists at the Nanyang Technological University can now track where volcanic ash has fallen. This breakthrough won Assistant Professor Benoit Taisne and Professor Gao Cong the Accelerating Creativity and Excellence (ACE) Award for their research project titled “Detecting and Tracking Volcanic Ash Using Social Media Data”.

Asst. Prof Taisne, a principal investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), worked closely with...

Submitted on 11 Jun 2019 by:

Have you got a poster presentation coming up and don’t know how to prepare for it ? We’ve got three award-winners here to help you – Ms Priyamvada Nanjundiah (Priya), Mr Yudha Setiawan Djamil, and Ms Regine Tiong Hui Yi.

Priya, a PhD student at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), was one of the winners of the American Geophysical Union’s Outstanding Student Paper Awards in 2016. She also won Best Student Poster at 2017’s Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS). Yudha, also a...