Earth Observatory Blog

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 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is sweeping the globe infecting 7.6 million and causing the death of 424,472 (as of 12 June 2020) has understandably superseded the issue that dominated the news, social media, political activity, business practice, and academic research for much of 2019 – the climate emergency.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 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...

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 02 Apr 2020 by:

Channel NewsAsia’s documentary titled “Carbon Conundrum” investigates how carbon emissions contribute to rising global temperatures, which lead to rising sea levels and extreme weather events. In the documentary aired on television (channel 106 on Starhub) on 31 March 2020, Assistant Professor Aron Meltzner and his team provided insights on how rising sea levels in the southeast Asian region could impact Singapore.

Using microatolls (circular colonies of coral) the team is able to track changes in the sea level. A study led by Asst. Prof Meltzner found that more than 6,000 years ago when there was no human-driven climate change, there were fluctuations of about 60 centimetres in sea levels in southeast Asia. He...

Submitted on 09 Mar 2020 by:

113 years ago, on 4 January 1907, a powerful magnitude (M) 8.2-8.4 earthquake occurred off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. This earthquake belonged to a special class called “tsunami earthquakes” that do not generate very strong shaking, but can result in large tsunamis.

The tsunami that was produced struck Nias and Simeulue, killing thousands. It also struck the distant shores of Sri Lanka, India, and the island of Reunion. The first earthquake was later followed by another quake measuring approximately M 7.0, resulting in the destruction of countless houses.

In the years that followed, the sequence got jumbled and the two events were conflated as one, but the 1907 disaster was preserved in local memory by way of the legend of the Smong – a Devayan word for...

Submitted on 27 Feb 2020 by:

At the 13th International Conference on Paleoceanography held on the 2nd to 6th September 2019 in Sydney, Australia, Dr Yama Dixit, a Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), gave a talk on the historical variations of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) that she had discovered were recorded in the shells of freshwater snails found in the lakes of India.

When the world’s climate changes in significant or unexpected ways, these anomalies impact different regions in a dissimilar manner. During the last Little Ice Age between 1500 and 1850 AD, for...

Submitted on 19 Feb 2020 by:

In the early morning at about 5am on 12 February 2020, a bright object was seen in the sky. It blazed over Singapore and Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and its lights were caught on two dash-cam videos. The video that was filmed in Singapore was captured near the Nanyang Technological University campus, next to the Jalan Bahar flyover.

When an object enters the Earth’s atmosphere and burns up on entry, the way we name it depends on how big it is, as well as how bright. For example, an asteroid is a piece of rocky, iron, or icy debris, over...

Submitted on 15 Jan 2020 by:

As at 5 pm on 15 January 2020, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported that Taal volcano’s eruption is still going on and retained the Alert Level for Taal at 4 (hazardous eruption imminent), where further eruptions are likely to occur in the coming hours or days.

The volcano continues to send dark grey steam-laden volcanic plumes up to 700 metres (m) in height drifting to the southwest of the volcano, and new cracks on the ground have been reported in several locations around the volcano. New observations indicate that the Main Crater Lake and parts...