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Durham postgraduate researcher Hanna Ruszczyk has been awarded a PhD fellowship for her research on community resilience and earthquakes.
Hanna’s postgraduate award has been made possible thanks to a generous gift from a Durham alumnus. Hanna’s research, will investigate the role of resilience in disaster risk reduction. She will study how resilience strategies can be operationalised within urban communities vulnerable to seismic hazards in Nepal and Bihar, India. Her PhD programme is based in the Department of Geography, linked to IHRR and is supervised by Dr Katie Oven and Dr Colin MacFarlane.
For her PhD, Ruszczyk is making a comparative analysis between Nepal and Bihar, which will investigate how to build individual and community level capacity for resilience. Both have their own particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to adapting and building resilience to natural hazards. ‘I’m looking at how they can learn from each other’, said Ruszczyk. ‘There is a clear social element of resilience, but what are the most important components of resilience to be aware of?’, she asks. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr Giulio Selvaggi is former Director of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). He gave the first IHRR seminar of the term on the L’Aquila earthquake and its aftermath. He is one of six scientists in Italy found guilty of manslaughter for downplaying the risk of earthquakes in the region. They are appealing the verdict. The aftermath of the L’Aquila earthquake is possibly one of the most politicised and publicised affairs of recent times involving scientists.
The L’Aquila earthquake led to the deaths of 309 people. The 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila not only revealed the unpreparedness of the city in dealing with the 6.3 magnitude earthquake, but the vulnerability of the buildings that collapsed. The fact that the earthquake took place is nothing unusual. It’s well known that L’Aquila is in a region of Italy with high risk of earthquakes. Unfortunately, the message conveyed to the general public of L’Aquila by government misinformed them about the actual risk of an earthquake occurring.
Selvaggi explained how one week prior to the earthquake he attended a meeting between The High Risk Commission (HRC) and National Service of Civil Protection (NCP) of Italy. The High Risk Commission is assigned with forecasting and mitigating large-scale risks, which includes serving as an interface between the scientific community and government. The NCP are responsible for taking action to protect the public from potential risks. The advice, however, given by scientists to the High Risk Commission, does not seem to match the message the NCP disseminated to the public. Read the rest of this entry »
4th October 2013, 14:00 to 15:00, Seminar Room 010, Dept of Geography, Dr Md. Nadiruzzaman, United Nations University (MRF-UNU) Project
Population movements following an environmental stress can be a huge development challenge if we do not know where people are going and at what number. Without knowledge of the locations of affected people, relief assistance is compromised. No rapid and accurate method exists to track population movements after disasters. This research learns lessons from Haiti and plans to use CDR (call data record) from the Grameen Phone, the largest cellphone operator in Bangladesh, to estimate the magnitude and trends of population movements following the Cyclone Mohasen, which swept across Bangladesh on the 20th May 2013.
Geographic positions of SIM cards were determined by the location of the mobile phone tower through which each SIM card connects when calling. We will follow daily positions of SIM cards for Barisal and Chittagang Division from 01 April to 30 June of 2013. To exclude inactivated SIM cards, we will include SIM cards that made at least one call during the time of our study. Results from the Haiti study suggest that estimates of population movements during disasters and outbreaks can be delivered rapidly and with potentially high validity in areas with high mobile phone use. This research would offer new ways to understand population movements and climate change threshold.
The M=6.6 earthquake in Gansu province this week killed about 100 people in a poor area of China. Gansu is earthquake-triggered landslide country – the great M=8.5 earthquake of 1920 killed between 70,000 and 200,000 people, many of them in huge seismically triggered flowslides that buried whole towns. So, even though the event this week was by comparison a small earthquake, it is unsurprising to find that landslides have been a significant issue. News from the earthquake-affected area is scarce, but the Big Picture, the photo section of Boston.com, has a wonderful gallery of images from the area. The best of these shows two spectacular flowslide failures:
Other images show the aftermath of the landslides; this one for example has blocked a road: Read the rest of this entry »