Earth Observatory Blog

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 15 Sep 2020 by:

When a volcano erupts in the darkness of night, or when it is blanketed by clouds, determining even the most basic information about the plume can be very difficult. Particularly for air safety, information like the time the eruption started, the height of the plume, and the eruption duration are crucial for determining what air spaces will be impacted.

Published on 15 September 2020, in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, is a study I led that developed a new method to estimate plume heights. This method utilises the long-travelling low-frequency sound waves produced by the eruptions.

Infrasound, or sound that falls below 20 Hz, can travel thousands of kilometers 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 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 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 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...