Importance Of Forecasting Natural Events

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Forecasting natural events such as landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions is a challenging task compounded by disagreeing outlooks. People want precise warnings of these events, however the scientific community is not able to make available forecasts as accurate as wanted because these natural events are only partly understood. The present situation is an uneasy compromise, with Earth scientists recognizing that public support requires that major efforts be made to forecast potential natural disasters, and the public becoming increasingly aware that probabilistic forecasts though fraught with uncertainty-are useful in decision making. Effective forecasting of natural events that could have a major impact on society involves cooperation …show more content…
Forecasting the approximate timing of a volcanic outbreak has proved successful in several cases over the past decade. Some of these instances are discussed in later sections. Forecasting the timing of the climax and the duration of an eruption has proved more elusive, and from a hazards point of view this information may be much more important than the onset time. Forecasts regarding the probable character and magnitude of an eruption can be made in a general way based on the tectonic setting of the volcano and on its previous recorded and recent geologic history. Statistically, small-magnitude eruptions occur far more frequently than large ones, but there is no monitoring technique presently available that can anticipate the specific character and magnitude of a forthcoming eruption. At present most of the probability statements in forecasts are couched in only semiquantitative terms such as high, low, or significant. These words mean different things to different readers. The goal of numerically quantitative probability statements is still many years away. The hazards from volcanoes are closely related to the character of their eruptions. Effusive eruptions of molten lava, as in most Hawaiian eruptions, pose little danger to people but can be very destructive to property. In this century, only one person has been killed by a volcanic eruption in Hawaii; however, during this same period, 5% of the island of Hawaii has been covered by new lava flows. During explosive eruptions, debris avalanches, lateral blasts, ash flows, and mudflows travel at speeds that cannot be outrun, and thus all of these pose major dangers to both life and property. In the Mont Pelee eruption, hot pyroclastic flows (nuees ardentes) traveling at high speeds killed nearly the entire population of Saint Pierre. (Out of a population

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