Natural Disasters


NATURAL DISASTERS

An adverse event of the nature that amounts to a calamity and loss of human lives and resources is known as a natural disaster or an act of god. A natural disaster is mainly caused due to the natural process that form a part of the daily living and geological processes. Some of the most prevalent and witnessed examples of natural disasters are the Earthquakes, Droughts, Floods and Tsunamis. Over a period of time, natural catastrophe are the biggest contributors to the depletion of living species on earth including humans, livestock and other forms. They leave an everlasting damage on the population ever after a decade of occurrence, often making the population even more venerable to a severe uprooting tragedy.


There is a wide assortment of natural disasters that the world has witnessed however, the most common one’s can be as cataloged below…



Earthquakes

Earthquakes are the natural disasters that occur due to rigorous shaking of the earth’s surface due to the release of pressure developed inside within the layers. These releases of energy causes seismic waves that make the things and being on the surface tremble and quiver, eventually leading to the destruction of resources and lives of the dwellers.



Tsunamis

Tsunamis are a form of large waves that flood the land and wash away the sources of livelihood by destruction anything that comes in their path. Tsunamis are mostly caused due to an earthquake occurrence on the floors of the large water bodies that cause the seismic waves to travel in the form of large waves causing the obliteration.



Droughts

Droughts are caused due to a prolonged dry season on the planet. The lack of water or moisture causes the crops to fail and living beings to feel perched with thirst, leading to a catastrophe on a large scale.



Heat waves

Heat waves are experienced when the temperature during summers crosses the normal mark leading to a severe blow to the live resources. The heat waves cause heat stroke in the people and animals experiencing it, often leading to an untimely death.



Natural Disaster

A natural disaster is an unsympathetic episode of nature caused due to continuous naturally occurring Earth processes. In other words, they are extreme, sudden and shocking events that occur due to natural processes of earth without any prior intimation. Most of these disasters, depending on the severity of the event, have caused tremendous loss resources and lives of mankind.

Similar events or occurrences in a sparsely populated or inhabited area are not considered as a natural disaster as it does not cause any harm to the human lives and resources. The natural occurrences that cause disasters can be due to weather disturbance such as hurricanes and cyclones, geological transformations such as shifting of continental plates or external factors such as phases of moon that cause Tsunami. There are several forms of natural disasters witnessed by Earth since its existence.



Forms of Natural Disaster

Life threatening nature based events can occur at any given time without prior notification or prediction. Hence, it is essential to recognize these events to protect the lives of loved ones, livestock and belongings. Some of the most prominent types of natural disasters are enlisted underneath to throw light on them.



Avalanches

Avalanches are form of snow slides that occur in the form of brisk surge of snow from the surface of the mountains. Avalanches commence with a mechanical failure within the snow due to loosely bonded snow patch. This patch or slab slides down after interacting with fast moving wind. Initially the flow may be at lower velocity but, the speed and horizon accelerates gradually as the avalanche progresses. The underlying causes include loose snow slab, fast wind and effect of gravity known as gravity current, and are quite similar to rockslide or landslide in muddy and mountainous region.

Most avalanches occur spontaneously during high magnitude winds during storms under excessive pressure exerted by incessant snowfall. Although, most avalanches are triggered by natural processes but, certain artificial triggers could be accountable too such as Skiing, snow bikes and mobiles or an explosion in an uncontrolled or controlled environment.



Earthquakes

Earthquake is a form of natural calamity that occurs due to shifting of continental plates due to rupturing of the geological faults. Traditionally, an earthquake is accompanied by tremors or shaking of Earth’s surface. The violent earthquakes have the capabilities to destroy buildings and other constructions leading to tremendous loss of people and property. The ground zero of the displacement or geological fault is called epicenter and the magnitude of earthquake are measured by the means of Richter Magnitude Scale. The sudden release of energy from Earth’s crust creates seismic waves that are measured using observations from seismometers.

Usually, an earthquake with a magnitude ranging up till 3 or less do not cause potential damage and are considered weak by nature. However, a magnitude of 7 or above can create cause extreme havoc and damage. An earthquake by and large occurs in the cluster of minor and major tremors or shocks. The highest among them is taken as the mainshock while others are termed as after and foreshocks.

Certain areas that are prone to earthquakes may receive several tremors within a small span of time and are called earthquake swarm. Also, when a series of earthquakes occur in order to shift or redistribute the pressure over the surface is known as earthquake storm, as they appear to be a storm of earthquakes.

Volcanic Eruptions

Volcanoes are another major source of destruction or disasters. Volcano is a form of rupture on the earth’s surface through which the flow of hot molten lava, ash and gases occurs after they are released from the magma chambers, below the crust, and core of the planet. There are three types of volcano in the world namely, active, passive or dormant and extinct. An active volcanoes experience a regular flow of lava and the time may vary from months to years. An extinct, on the contrary, has no recorded history of eruption and is unlikely to do so as well in the future. Between the two, active and extinct, are dormant or sleeping volcanoes that have been lying inactive for some time but they may have certain minor or major eruptions in the future due to the building up of lava inside them. It is often extremely difficult to differentiate between an extinct or dormant volcano due to lack of recorded history of eruptions for the inactive ones.



Hydrological Disasters

Hydrological disasters are extremely intense disparaging outbreak of nature. They can occur in the form of sudden release of suffocating gases or quality transformation, movement or allocation of water present above or below the surface of the earth. These disasters are subdivided into three major forms specified below.

1. Floods
An overflow of water from a water body like river that submerges the land is known as a flood. In case of floods, the land is temporarily covered with water but do not last for a long time as the water flows and takes its regular course.

2. Limnic Eruptions
Limnic activities are sudden eruption of gases, most often CO2, from the surface of the earth covered with deep lakes. These types of natural disasters pose the greatest threat to human lives, livestock and other animals as they suffocate under its influence while drinking water. Limnic activities are a part of natural disasters due to their nature of causing potential damage. With just two recorded Limnic activities in the history had caused nearly 1900 deaths in all.

3. Tsunami
Deriving its name from Japanese word for “Harbor waves”, Tsunamis have proven one of the worst forms of natural disasters in the history. These are seismic or tidal waves caused due to other forms of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcano or Limnic activity under a large water body such as sea or an ocean. The waves caused enormous displacement of water leading to a massive or severe form of flood accompanied by large size waves to wash off the coastal areas.

Metrological or Weather Disasters

Metrological disasters are mostly weather driven or seasonal disasters such as rain, snow, cold, ice, heat, wind or drought. They can be quoted as the most recurrent forms of natural disasters as they are mainly caused due to severe seasonal disturbances or sudden weather formations.

1. Blizzards
Blizzards are traditionally characterized as the severe winter storms of wind and snow. The high velocity winds carry the freshly fallen snow with them to create weather disturbances known as Blizzards. These disasters affect the lower strata of the society immensely due to the lack of resources to counter them. Also, blizzards have been credited with the destruction of crops and field worldwide. Blizzards can cause whiteout in the day’s hours during an occurrence reducing the visibility to nearly few meters and paralyzing the regions for the duration of the event. The world has seen several blizzards in the recorded history, some of which have been extremely severe.

2. Cyclonic Storms/Hurricanes/Typhoons
Cyclones occur when the water body in addition with high velocity winds develops a circular motion directed towards the earth. They are extremely powerful and suck in any object that falls within the radius due to the inward spiraling winds accompanying them. These cyclones are more prominent in areas with low atmospheric pressure such as the polar region. There are two foremost types of cyclone storms namely, tropical and extra tropical storms. The tropical storms are also known as hurricanes, typhoons or cyclone that occurs as a result of extreme storm systems developing over oceans. The extra-tropical storms are mid-latitude cyclones occurring due to synoptic low pressure. Unlike Tropical storms they experience front and horizontal gradients in temperature and are more intense in nature causing much greater destruction.

3. Drought
Droughts are caused to extremely low or deficient water supply over and below the ground. In case of drought affected region, it might not have experienced a rain shower and the ground water levels are also zero. A drought, as reported in history, can last between 15 days to many years, depending upon the next replenishment of water to the ground by the nature. Smallest of droughts can cause severe damage of human life and livestock due to lack of water to drink or cook. Such areas are also extremely prone to bush fires due to availability of dried bushes burned by the heat of the sun.

Many drought affected regions have suffered mass migrations during the course of history due to lack of basic natural resources. Drought can be attributed to several underlying causes ranging from no-rain spell to erosions and other human activities over a period of time.

4. Hailstorms
A hail is a solid form of precipitation of water. The precipitation causes lumps or balls of ice to fall from the sky during a storm. This storm of hail stones is known as a hail storm. A hailstorm, most often, would be accompanied by a thunderstorm to cause mass destruction. Also, the velocity with which they fall may cause substantial damage to the crops, property and belongings.

Hailstones fall from the thunderstorm clouds, where they are formed, with extremely high content of water combined with low atmospheric temperatures.

5. Heat Waves
A prolonged summer or hot weather with extreme heat can cause a heat wave. In certain countries it is also combined with extreme humidity, especially with countries with oceanic climate. The declaration of heat wave depends on the prior average high temperature range of the region for example, for City A, 450 may be a warm but normal summer temperature. But, for some other region, City B, this temperature may be too high. In such case, heat wave would be declared in City B as it might be affecting the local residents and their daily chores in the region.

Heat waves are known for their extensive damage to the crops and human life, as high temperatures might cause hyperthermia that is a cause of thousands of deaths each year. Traditionally, if the high temperature spreads over five days and is higher than the average temperature then, it is declared as a heat wave.

6. Tornadoes
Tornados are formed when a high velocity wind of circular motion come in direct contact with the surface of the earth and dense towering vertical clouds, called cumulonimbus clouds. They often unleash themselves in the form of twisters and cyclones on a region. There are several shapes ascribed to the tornadoes depending upon the visible condensation funnel, which is responsible for maintaining a direct contact with the ground to collect rubble and grime. Tornadoes are a common occurrence all over the world, except Antarctica.

7. Wildfires
Wildfires are witnessed when combustible flora and fauna experiences an outbreak of uncontainable fire. Other names for same phenomenon are bushfires, forest fires, desert fires, peat fires, hill fires etc depending upon the geographical structure and landscaping of the area. These fires are extensive size and require extensive measures as well to contain them as they can result into sizeable damage to human life, animals and personal belongings. There are two probable causes of these fires namely, natural and unnatural cause. The natural causes are the ones linked to the nature such as intense heat that causes fire while the unnatural causes are often man made mistakes or fires that grow into wildfires and cause massive destruction.

8. Famines
A famine can be defined as the pervasive scarcity of food caused due to several underlying conditions such as crop failure, government policies, wars or population unbalance. This phenomenon has several disturbing aftereffects such as malnutrition, epidemics, starvation and mortality rates. Nearly all countries of the world have experienced such disasters on a large scale during the history. However, the world is now seeing a decline of famines all over due to better living conditions and wherewithal.

9. Tidal Waves
Tidal Waves are waves caused to the lunar movement several times a day. They are of two types’ high tides and low tides. In high tides, the water body swells to push water on the banks or shores, above the original or average level of water, while in low tide the water recedes and falls below the average or expected level. Extremely high tides caused to the forces or outbursts of the nature are called Tsunamis. Tidal waves in form of Tsunamis are the most probable causes of natural disasters. Also, during exceptionally high rainfall, the water level increases in the water bodies. Under the circumstance, normal high waves phenomenon can cause damage to people and property.



Do’s and Don’ts during Natural Disaster

It is always essential to educate your children about natural disasters so that they do not panic in case they face any. Also, if you reside in a region that is prone to certain disasters, always maintain a safety kit and backup plan, for the occurrence. For earthquake, always be prepared for aftershocks and follow a pre-devised escape plan for maximum safety.



Do’s

  • The most important do’s is to remain calm, as it would enable you to think clearly and not act hastily.
  • Use the stairs to climb down the buildings.
  • Rush outside to avoid accidents due to debris or building collapse.
  • In case of tsunami reach for a higher ground which is firmly set.
  • During earthquakes, if you are unable to move out, curl up next to a bed or any big table for maximum safety. Also, drop down once you have reached the safety ground and cover yourself if possible.
  • If possible, carry your pets with you as they do not have an escape plan.
  • In case of areas with frequent occurring regions, always maintain an emergency safety kit with essential items stacked inside it.
  • Look after your children, need be carry them to safety yourself. In first possible opportunity call your loved ones to update them on your status. They must be worried.
  • Lastly, in case of volcanoes follow the safety instructions as given out by the authorities.
  • In case of hurricanes and cyclone, it is advisable to reach for the basement if possible. If not, stay indoors.


Don’ts

  • Do not panic as it might have ripple effect on those near you.
  • Avoid using lifts or elevators under any circumstances in case of natural disasters.
  • Do not rush as it might lead to stampede and further damage to human life.
  • Do not lock yourself inside the car or park it under the tree as it might cause greater damage.
  • In case you are stuck inside kitchen during an event, move away from refrigerator, gas/stove and overhead cabinets.
  • In case of water associated disasters and areas, don’t rush near the water source to be a spectator. Move away as fast as you can.
  • Don’t stand too close to a high rise building as it might collapse on you.
  • Do not jump off floors to save yourself as it might not be your best option.

Economics of Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are the catastrophe initiated by the nature on a large scale that can easily destroy human and other plant life and uproot the source of livelihood and belongingness at the same time. For innumerable time, Earth and its beings have witnessed several types of natural disasters. These disasters have showcased themselves in the form of earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, twisters, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, limbic activities and droughts. These may be just a few of the names but, one thing common to all these disasters are the wide spread ruin they leave even after days of activity. It may take several days, months or years for the economy of the victim state to flourish again.

The natural disaster not only affects the source of livelihood but also the overall revenue of the state and the nation as well. It may take decades for the help to recreate the former state for the dwellers of the region even after a collaborative effort of the entire populace. Natural disasters also amount to a great deal of loss of human, livestock, and flora and fauna of the region and in certain cases even the lives of precious wildlife. Hence, it can be rightfully exclaimed that “Economics of natural disasters” weigh heavily on the populace and nation of the effected region for a long time until things are brought close to the former glory.