Critical Needs: Natural Hazards

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The aftermath of flooding is seen at a home that was damaged when flooded creeks swept water through Flat Top, Kentucky. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA
The aftermath of flooding is seen at a home that was damaged when flooded creeks swept water through Flat Top, Kentucky. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA
  • The aftermath of flooding is seen at a home that was damaged when flooded creeks swept water through Flat Top, Kentucky. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA
  • A middle school is left in a mangled heap after a June 11 F-3 tornado ripped through Chapman, Kansas. Image Credit: Photo by Anita Westervelt/FEMA
  • A sinkhole in front of a home in Kentucky. Image Credit: FEMA/Photo by Rob Melendez
  • A library in California following an earthquake. Image Copyright © California State University Northridge Geology Department, Image source: Earth Science World Image Bank http://www.earthscienceworld.org/images
  • Image of the Oso landslide, Washington state, taken from the air. Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
  • A U.S. Geological Survey seismologist installs a monitoring station on Mt. Rainier. Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
  •  This "ghost forest" near the mouth of the Copalis River, Washington, was killed by saltwater tides after an earthquake in 1700 caused the land to subside. Image Credit: USGS/Photo by Brian Atwater

Building Resiliency to Natural Hazards

Natural hazards affect every state in the nation. Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, sinkholes, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, extreme heat and cold, and drought, among others, result in billions of dollars in annualized losses to the United States. These hazards threaten lives and property, disrupt services, damage infrastructure, and weaken economies. A thriving nation requires resilient communities that help protect citizens from economic and social disruptions related to natural hazards.

Geoscientists help communities identify, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. In coordination with engineers, social scientists, public safety professionals, and emergency managers, geoscientists conduct natural hazards research, monitoring, training, education, and public outreach to create an integrated approach to developing resilient communities.

To minimize the potential impact of natural hazards:

Encourage basic and applied research to strengthen community resilience. Geoscientists study the links between natural hazards and Earth processes and the ways natural hazards impact society. They identify hazard-prone areas through geologic mapping, seismic monitoring, and other investigations.

Prioritize natural hazard monitoring. Geospatial tools such as satellites, lidar, seismic networks, and stream gauges help geoscientists collect data to assist in disaster assessment and response and develop better models, forecasts, and warnings.

Support communication of the risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural hazards to the public. Geoscientists translate technical data into actionable information, helping to include science in mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.

Mitigate hazard impacts on people, buildings, and infrastructure. Geoscience research informs transportation planning, land-use practices, and building codes, leading to more resilient communities.

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2015-09-21