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Natural Hazards

Natural Hazards

Stromboli: The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean

Stromboli: The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean

In the last months two paroxysmal explosive eruptions took place at Stromboli volcano: the first one, totally unexpected, on 3rd July (Video 1) that sadly cost the life of a person and the second and, currently, last one about three weeks ago, on the 28th August (Video 2).

Today we try to answer a couple of questions about Stromboli and its eruptions. Are these paroxysmal eruptions common or rare at Stromboli volcano? What are the hazards associated with these eruptions in the context of Stromboli’s island?

The volcanic activity at Stromboli

Stromboli, a volcano located on its homonymous island in the South of the Tyrrhenian Sea, is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Already famous for its persistent explosive character during the Roman ages, they named Stromboli ‘the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’.

The ordinary eruptive activity of Stromboli is characterised by mild yet spectacular explosions, which eject gas, volcanic ash (i.e. tiny rock particles) and incandescent shreds of magma of decimetric size, i.e. pyroclasts. The latter is particularly capable of putting on a real fireworks display (like in Figure 1), and it is attracting many curious visitors; among them volcanologists, who find Stromboli the perfect natural laboratory where to collect numerous observations.
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Where science and communication meet: the editorial world of scientific journals.

Where science and communication meet: the editorial world of scientific journals.

The ultimate scope of scientists is to publish their research advancement and share it with the scientific community and civil society. Researchers, whether coming from academia or research institutes, publish their results in peer-reviewed journals, that are usually highly technical and often incomprehensible to anyone except the major experts in the field. In some subjects is inevitable given the nature of the research contents. 

The scientific editorial world is punctuated by thousands of different highly specialized journals, although some of the oldest, e.g. Nature (1869) publishes articles across a wide range of scientific fields being addressed not only to research scientists, the primary audience but also for the educated public in order to shorten the gap between the two worlds. In today’s interview, we talk with Dr Yang Xia, Associate Editor of the journal Nature Communications for the Earth team. Her expertise is focused on environmental social science, environmental policy, socio-economics, sustainability and climate-related health risks and she will give us some insights into the editors’ job as well as into the unsolved questions in the field of the socio-economic impact of natural hazards.

Hi Yang! Thanks for accepting being interviewed by NhET. Can you tell us something about you? What led you to be Associate Editor of Nature Communications?

After completing my PhD degree, I felt a great desire to stay in a broader frame of science rather than focusing on a niche point. In this respect, my current job facilitates my love for diversity and inclusion because I am now able to read papers on various subjects from a wide range of author groups. I am also interested in scientific communication. As editors, we work in a company, but we still have loads of opportunities to actively communicate with researchers via conferences, lab visits and masterclass

Being Associate Editor for Nature Communications is definitely challenging and inspiring for many Early Career Scientists (ECSs). Also, it might be a good career opportunity for some of them. What are the main duties and skills of your specific position?

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Cyclone Fani: A success in weather forecast and disaster preparedness

Cyclone Fani: A success in weather forecast and disaster preparedness

Hurricane, cyclone and typhoon are different terms for the same weather phenomenon: torrential rain and maximum sustained wind speeds (near centre) exceeding 119 km/hour (World Meteorological Organization https://public.wmo.int/en). The terminology depends on the region (e.g. in the western North Pacific, they are called typhoons; in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea they are named as cyclones, etc). The Indian sub-continent is highly vulnerable to cyclones and the losses to life are more pronounced due to high population density (National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project, Govt of India). Studies show a decreasing trend in the frequency of cyclones over the North Indian Ocean in recent years, however, the damage and destruction from such systems do not seem to decrease (e.g. De et al., 2005). In April 2019, Cyclone Fani was the first summer cyclone to hit India’s Bay of Bengal coast in 43 years and only the third in the past 150 years. It was also the strongest tropical cyclone to hit India since 2013 and affected 137 blocks (district subdivisions for rural areas consisting of a cluster of villages), 46 municipal governments, 14,800 villages, and 15,000 km of roads. About 5 million people lost their houses, 14 million people were affected and $14 billion is now estimated for rebuilding damaged houses and public infrastructure.

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Hot topic for a hot summer: extreme weather and climate events in the ANYWHERE project – A Pan-European Platform for Multi-Hazard Early Warning and associated Impacts

Hot topic for a hot summer: extreme weather and climate events in the ANYWHERE project – A Pan-European Platform for Multi-Hazard Early Warning and associated Impacts

Henny van Lanen.

In this post, I have the pleasure to interview Dr.ir. Henny A.J. van Lanen. He is Associate Professor in the Hydrology & Quantitative Water Management Group of Wageningen University and he has been involved in several EU projects. Further, he is involved in many international groups or networks:

  • Coordinator of the European FRIEND programme (EURO-FRIEND Water, Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data; cross-cutting theme UNESCO-IHP);
  • Past Global Coordinator of the FRIEND Inter-Group Coordination Committee (FIGCC) (cross-cutting theme UNESCO-IHP);
  • Coordinator of the European Drought Centre (EDC);
  • Member of the Open Panel of CHy Experts (OPACHE) of Commission of Hydrology (CHy) from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO);
  • member of the Discussion Group on Droughts of the UN-International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR);
  • member/chair of the Project Review Group of Global Water Partnership (WM-GWP) on Integrated Drought Management in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE-IDMP).
1. Media are talking more frequently of extreme weather and climate events: why are they so important for our society?

Extreme Weather and Climate events (W&C) cause natural hazards, and when vulnerable human and natural systems are exposed to these W&C hazards, they may lead to disasters. For instance, from 2011 to 2013, the USA faced 24 weather-related disasters that led to about 1100 fatalities, which resulted in more than $200 billion in losses. Similar experiences of weather-induced disasters and their associated losses are reported for Europe. Moreover, there seems to be a growing trend. Summer 2019 has barely begun, but temperature records are already being broken. Recent data show that the European-average temperature for June 2019 was higher than for any other June on record. Average temperatures were more than 2°C above normal and it has become the hottest June ever recorded. This led to associated dry hazards, e.g. wildfires, but also to abrupt endings, like the powerful early-July storm in northern Greece that killed six people. The apparently rising trends go hand in hand with increasing populations, assets and ecosystems’ risk.

Dry, natural hazards (drought, heatwaves, wildfires) cause severe impacts and likely will intensity in the future in multiple areas across the world (photos: Henny Van Lanen).

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