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Critically Examine the View that Natural Hazards Appear to be Occurring with Increasing.

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Introduction

Sarah Lee 13L 26th March Critically Examine the View that Natural Hazards Appear to be Occurring with Increasing Frequency Firstly, I think that it is important to define what a 'natural hazard' actually is. John Whittau describes it as, 'A hazard is a perceived natural event that threatens life and property' 'A disaster is the realisation of this hazard' A widely accepted definition characterizes natural hazards as "those elements of the physical environment, harmful to man and caused by forces extraneous to him" More specifically the term "natural hazard" refers to all atmospheric, hydrologic, geologic (especially seismic and volcanic), and wildfire phenomena that, because of their location, severity, and frequency, have the potential to affect humans, their structures, or their activities adversely. There is evidence to suggest that the frequency of such natural hazards is increasing. Reported disasters between 1960's and 1980's which Blaikie et al collated in1994 showed a definite trend of an increase in the frequency of natural hazards. For example, in 1960's there was one avalanche classified as a natural disaster but in 1970's this number increased to 4 and this number increased four fold again to make 16 avalanches classed as 'natural hazards' in the 1980's. Another obvious trend is that the number of volcanoes in a twenty year period is appearing to almost double - 13 in 1960's, 25 in the 1970's and 55 in the 1980's. ...read more.

Middle

Will therefore result in flooding. This is heightened by deforestation which prevents interception by leaves and reduces the amount of stem store (water stored inside the tree). An example of this the flash flood disaster that killed over 83 people on a campsite in Spain on 8th of August 1996 which was impossible to forecast. Local people were blamed for the localised flooding as recent deforestation had occurred at the Pyrenean foothills. Water and mud had been impounded behind a small bridge which, when burst, resulted in a huge torrent rushing down the valley. In addition, the design of buildings is to get rid of water as soon as possible - the curvature in a road and the slanted roofs of houses. This exasperates the impact of urbanisation on flooding. Drought and Famine This is primarily caused by persistent sub-tropical high-pressure systems (the Sahel in Africa) and El Nino/ ocean surface temperature changes (cause of droughts in California and Chile) however drought problems can be agitated by human activities. 1st) Groundwater abstraction would mean that there would be an increase in soil temperature as water has a cooling effect and therefore the soils would be at risk of baking and becoming so hard that it is impossible to cultivate. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another example is drought. Due to desertification thousands of people in the Sahel are forced to give up nomadic traditions and live near a definite water supply (such as Lake Chad). As thousands of people use this water source for human consumption, crop irrigation and farm use it is unsurprising that the Lake is drying up. Over population in an area that can not sustain such numbers will result in sever droughts and famine as the soil becomes unusable and dry as water stores diminish. In the year 2001, natural hazards killed over 25,000 people and caused $36 billion in damage worldwide. Unfortunately, the cost of natural hazards is increasing dramatically. In the 1990's, the average cost of all natural hazards in the United States doubled from $25 billion to $50 billion per year. In some countries (including the U.S.), even if your community does not suffer from any natural hazards in a particular year, federal disaster assistance to other communities is partially paid for by everyone's taxes. Therefore the increase of natural hazards will impact upon many people, directly and indirectly, so the frequency of such events need to be recorded to see if there are any immediate correlations that can prevent such dramatic phenomenon. In addition, the recording of such hazards may allow correlations to be found that can be used as a management tool to prevent human activities agitating natural hazards. ...read more.

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