Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 15 Aug 2018 by:

A one-metre rise in sea level could dramatically increase the frequency of flooding up to almost five times for tsunami-safe Macau, in a new study led by scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore). 

The team of scientists from NTU’s Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and Asian School of the Environment (ASE), used computer modelling, and initially showed that Macau, a densely populated coastal city in China, is relatively safe from tsunamis as it requires an earthquake larger than 8.8-magnitude to cause widespread tsunami floods.

However, with just a sea level rise of 0.5 metres, the tsunami-induced flood risk increases to up to 2.4 times and with a 1 metre rise, up to 4.7 times. 

The increased flooding frequency was...

Submitted on 12 Jul 2018 by:

Leading an international study on the vulnerability of salt marshes in the United Kingdom (UK), scientists from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) at Nanyang Technological University warn that the enhanced rates in sea-level rise are likely to destroy the marshlands found in the UK sooner than previously thought. 

In a paper published in Nature Communications on 12 July 2018, the team led by Professor Benjamin Horton, Principal Investigator at EOS, found that...

Submitted on 22 Jun 2018 by:

Tidal wetlands in the contiguous US can store roughly 800 million tons of carbon in their soils. That is the latest estimate from a team of over 30 scientists, including Professor Benjamin Horton and Dr Tim Shaw from the Earth Observatory of Singapore and the Asian School of the Environment, published on 21 June 2018 in Nature Scientific Reports

Wetlands are one of humanity’s best defenses against climate change. Besides shielding cities from extreme weather like hurricanes, wetlands can also store massive amounts of carbon — up to 10 times faster than upland forests, according to some estimates. This carbon, known as “blue carbon,” has become a buzzword among those looking to protect the coasts from the...

Submitted on 11 May 2018 by:

On 3 September 2017, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) conducted its sixth underground nuclear test at the Punggye-ri test site. In collaboration with scientists from Germany, USA, and China, my colleagues from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) and I published our findings in Science on 11 May 2018, revealing the complex physical processes associated with the nuclear test.

We found that the top of the mountain experienced a rise, collapse, and compaction at different time scales after the explosion. The explosive yield from the nuclear detonation with seismic and geodetic modeling was between 120-304 kilotons of TNT, which is more than 10 times the power...

Submitted on 03 May 2018 by:

Some eruptions are so large, and discharge so much magma (molten rock), that the roof of the magma chamber can no longer support itself. When the roof collapses, it forms a big hole in the ground called a caldera. One such volcano is Santorini, in Greece, whose distinctive ring shape was formed by multiple caldera collapses.

We studied the Cape Riva eruption of Santorini, an eruption of at least 10 km3 of magma —enough to cover all of Singapore to a depth of at least 14 m. We wanted to know how long it takes to assemble the magma that eventually gets erupted at the surface in a caldera-forming eruption like the Cape Riva. Do these magma reservoirs slowly grow over tens of thousands of years, or are they emplaced more rapidly? Knowing what...

Submitted on 19 Apr 2018 by:

Earthquakes continue to cause tremendous damage and casualties around the world. Contrary to other geophysical hazards, such as storms and floods, seismic hazards still elude short-term prediction. This is due, on the one hand, to our limited understanding of how rocks deform and break; and on the other hand, by the difficulty of probing Earth's interior to determine the physical parameters of a given fault.

To improve our understanding of how earthquakes are generated, a useful approach is to confront our hypotheses with a combination of laboratory experiments, field observations, and theoretical predictions.

The monitoring of plate boundaries with seismometers and GPS instruments, together with the development of increasingly sophisticated laboratory experiments...

Submitted on 15 Apr 2018 by:

One year ago, scientists and science advocates from across the globe were moved to march in the streets. It was a reactionary move, spurred by administration changes in the United States and the growing threat of reversals in global environment policies, funding, and education relating to climate change.

What has happened since then? Well, quite a bit actually. The United States withdrew from the Paris accord and in response, state leaders came together and formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue advancing the objectives of the Paris agreement, despite the...

Submitted on 05 Apr 2018 by:

Channel NewsAsia held a dialogue session on 24 January 2018 at the Funan Showsuite. Associate Professor Adam Switzer, a Principal Investigator at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, together with a panel of speakers, shared their thoughts on CNA’s INSIGHT episode, Fukushima — 6 years after the Daiichi disaster. They explored topics that looked at how safe it is for residents to return to Fukushima, the damage to the ecosystems there, as well as its clean-up.

Assoc Prof Switzer led the discussion on the long-term damages from alternative energy sources, and if clean energy might be the solution. “There is a rising demand for energy in Singapore due to growing industries. But what are the acceptable risks?” he asked. “The hazard zone of a nuclear power plant is the size of...

Submitted on 30 Mar 2018 by:

625 million people worldwide live in low elevation coastal zones (LECZ). By 2060, the LECZ population is likely to approach 1.4 billion people. These low-lying coastal regions, many of them in Southeast Asia (>70% of total LECZ population), are vulnerable to sea-level rise brought about by climate change. Changing sea-level is an inevitable consequence of climate change caused by a combination of the increased water mass and volume in the oceans. Recent climate warming is responsible for producing the highest rate of sea-level rise observed in the past few millennia and it is expected that this acceleration will continue through the 21st century and beyond. Future sea-level changes will be spatially variable and consequently risk assessment should be based on regional rather...

Submitted on 08 Mar 2018 by:

The highly active Sumatran Subduction Zone has produced more than four great earthquakes in the last decade. The first of these was the giant Mw 9.2 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake that ruptured on 26 December 2004. This devastating event was followed by three others – the Mw 8.6 Nias-Simeulue quake in 2005, the Mw 8.4 Bengkulu earthquakes in 2007, and the Mw 7.7 Mentawai tsunami-earthquake in 2010.

In order to understand why so many great earthquakes originate from this region, we have to measure the strength of the rocks in the earth’s lower crust and upper mantle. Our new research, published today on 8 March 2018 in Nature Communications, highlights a ground-breaking new approach to how the strength of these rocks...

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