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To what extent is a knowledge of physical processes vital in understanding the occurrence of natural hazards?

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Introduction

To what extent is a knowledge of physical processes vital in understanding the occurrence of natural hazards? A natural hazard is defined as a natural event or process which affects people, for example causing injury or loss of life, economic damage, disruption to people's lives or environmental degradation. Physical processes create, maintain, and modify Earth's physical features and environments. Because the physical environment is the essential background for all human activity on Earth, it can be argued that a detailed knowledge of physical processes is vital in understanding natural hazards as a whole. Examples of physical processes include plate tectonics, climate and meteorology. When talking about how these physical processes help us to understand the occurrence of natural hazards, we mean not just when and how often they are likely to occur, but also where they are likely to occur - their spatial and temporal occurrences. Such hazards can also be measured in terms of magnitude, which is a measure of the strength of the hazard or of the energy released by it. ...read more.

Middle

Unfortunately without satellites, little knowledge of the physical processes at work can be gained and the hurricane is very difficult to predict. Even if it did have a knowledge of physical processes, there is little that Honduras could have done to determine the occurrence of the hurricane other than look out for changes in the weather. Although Honduras is no stranger to such events and they can try to predict at what time of the year hurricanes are likely to occur, there is no way of determining exactly when or being able to evacuate people in time since the knowledge of physical processes is generally absent. Another type of event in which physical knowledge of processes greatly assists the prediction of the event is in the occurrence of volcanic eruptions. One such eruption was that of Mount St. Helens in 1980, in which 57 people were killed. This death rate is very low considering the magnitude of the eruption. In fact, eruptions of this magnitude are so rare that one like Mount St. ...read more.

Conclusion

LEDC countries generally lack the knowledge of physical processes behind such hazards, as they often cannot afford the technology which is vital if a volcanic eruption is to be predicted. Working with MEDC countries often provides assistance to the situation, but often the LEDC country does not ask for help until it is far too late because they do not spot the early warning signs given off by the hazard. Overall, I conclude that a detailed knowledge of physical processes certainly helps to predict the occurrence of a natural hazard. However, there are still deaths that are unpreventable unless technology advances. It is possible to accurately predict where an event will occur, but in some cases such as hurricanes it will always be difficult to determine how large the scale of the event will be as they are very prone to changing course. However, knowledge of physical processes means that we can predict more accurately when and where the event is likely to occur as opposed to if we didn't have that knowledge. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Nash 13.3 ...read more.

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