Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 06 Aug 2020 by:

In conversation with Assistant Professor Aron Meltzner, Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore


1. How does the recent powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Alaska remind us of similar hazards in Southeast Asia?

Last week, we saw a powerful earthquake off the coast of Alaska with a magnitude of 7.8 which had the potential to trigger a damaging tsunami, but fortunately this did not happen.

It occurred along a subduction zone where the Pacific Plate is subducting or slipping under the North American plate. The shaking that we know as an earthquake results from the sudden movement between these two plates, but that sudden movement also has the potential to lift up the seafloor, which in turns lifts the water above it, and that can...

Submitted on 21 Jul 2020 by:

Sea-level rise is a hot topic today in Singapore. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his 2019 National Day Rally Speech, spoke at length about how vulnerable our island state is to 21st-century projections. However, sea-level rise is not a recent phenomenon and neither are the extreme impacts it has had on Singapore’s landscape.

Here’s another interesting fact – Singapore was not always an island. During past ‘ice ages’ where most of the world’s water was locked at the Poles, the sea was found hundreds of kilometres further away from where it is today. The clues pointing to what happened to Singapore thousands of years ago as a result of sea-level changes can be found right under our feet.

A team from NTU’s Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), the British...

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 02 Jul 2020 by:

On 22 December back in 2018, Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau volcano erupted. The collapse of its flank triggered a tsunami that killed more than 400 and injured at least 30,000 people. 

To understand how the events of that day unfolded with such catastrophic effect, an international research team led by Research Associate Anna Perttu from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) turned to the data collected from monitoring stations from all around the region, official reports, as well as satellite and visual observations.

Eruptions produce a wide range of signals. Humans can see and hear some of them only when close enough to the eruption. Monitoring instruments help fill the gap. Satellites can be used to image volcanic plumes that are too high or obstructed from an...

Submitted on 15 Jun 2020 by:

The first results from Singapore’s first island-wide seismic survey unravel some important features of Singapore’s underground.

In March of last year, a team at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) recorded the ground movements of Singapore using 88 seismometers placed in locations such as schools, parks and weather stations.

We collected a vast quantity of fascinating data using distant earthquakes to image Singapore’s subsurface, and our first set of results were recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Seismologists use a technique called receiver functions to look at boundaries between different rocks...

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 19 May 2020 by:

With schools and most non-essential services closed due to the circuit breaker measures, many households are going digital as they learn and work from home. We've prepared a virtual care package where you can access online resources on earth science, and we've included apps for children who are above four years of age to spark their curiosity about our natural environment.

Visit the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, tour the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C, listen to podcasts on geology and other science topics, or even visualise what it would be like if Singapore were to be submerged underwater. Whether you're a student, a parent, an educator, or someone who is interested in earth science, these online resources will help you explore Earth from...

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?