Houses destroyed in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Source: UNDP

Haiti – An engineering disaster

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti was one of the greatest seismic tragedies of the last few decades. The magnitude 7 struck late in the afternoon with an epicentre just west the capital Port-au-Prince on 12th January 2010.

The earthquake caused major damage in the capital and surrounding regions leaving a death toll estimated between 100,000 and 316,000. Most of these deaths occurred due to the collapse of buildings and other infrastructure.

TED Fellow Peter Haas explains why Haiti was not a natural disaster but a disaster of engineering in his TED talk, linked below.

Up to 80 mile an hour wind gusts possible from ex-hurricane Gonzalo

The remains of hurricane Gonzalo is due to strike the British Isles tonight resulting in widespread rainfall and wind gusts up to 80 miles an hour tomorrow morning.

Gonzalo travelled over the island of Bermuda earlier this week, but has since been decreasing in energy and is now downgraded from hurricane status to an extra-tropical storm. The video below, from the Met Office, shows ex-hurricane Gonzalo undergoing extra-tropical transition into an Atlantic low pressure system.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for wind for large parts of the UK. The worst disruption is expected on Tuesday morning when high wind gusts coincide with the morning rush hour.

The Environment Agency has asked people to be flood aware and prepared, Although the strong winds might help drive low coastal flood risk on Tuesday and Wednesday. You can keep up to date with updated flood warnings on the Environment Agency’s website:


More information:
[1] The Met Office warnings:
[2] The Environment Agency flood risk map:
[3] More about hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones:
[4] The latest BBC news report at time of writing (21:37 Mon 20th):

Global Earthquakes: January – April 2014

Earthquakes happen every day, and as this animation shows, small ones happen more frequently than moderate-to-large earthquakes. However, April 2014 was unusual because there were more than the average number of moderate and large earthquakes. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) had to issue official warnings for 13 different earthquakes in that month. Of those 13, PTWC issued tsunami warnings for 5:

Date Magnitude Location
1 April 8.2 Northern Chile
3 April 7.8 Northern Chile
12 April 7.6 Solomon Islands
13 April 7.7 Solomon Islands
19 April 7.8 Solomon Islands

This animation shows all earthquakes on earth that occurred in the first quarter of this year. Note the typical level of activity through March. But starting with the 8.2 magnitude earthquake in northern Chile on April 1, the rest of the month saw 12 more moderate-to-large earthquakes mostly in Chile and the Solomon Islands but also in Nicaragua, Mexico, Canada, and even the south Atlantic Ocean. The animation concludes with a summary map showing all of the earthquakes in this four-month period.

More information:

Friday Fact – 10th October 2014

hurricane_katrina-NASA Friday 10th October 2014

Did you know, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are different names for the same weather phenomenon?

In general large cyclonic storms in the Atlantic and East Pacific are called hurricanes, those in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones while typhoons are the same weather events in the western Pacific.

More Information:
[1] Check out our blog post on these incredibly energetic weather events.


Featured Image -- 1948

Strong winds and heavy rain affect parts of the UK

Originally posted on Met Office News Blog:

After an exceptionally dry September, the UK has seen its first bout of widespread heavy rain and strong winds so far this autumn. An area of low pressure centred close to Iceland has driven a cold front eastwards across Britain, bringing unsettled weather, particularly in the west.

Highest rainfall totals

Some of the highest rainfall totals are shown below (between 10pm (5th October) to 10am (6th October):


Strongest wind gusts

There have been some strong wind gusts in parts, particularly across exposed western areas. The highest gusts are below:

06/10/2014 05:00 ALTNAHARRA NO 2 SUTHERLAND 78
06/10/2014 02:00 TIREE ARGYLL 77
06/10/2014 05:00 MACHRIHANISH ARGYLL 75

View original 77 more words

Map of what each country has promised at the climate summit

World leaders gathered yesterday for a crucial United Nations meeting to encourage 120 member states to sign up to a new comprehensive global climate agreement in Paris next year.

The last such meeting in 2009 ended with no concrete results. However the meeting yesterday was hailed by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, saying “never before have so many leaders gathered to commit to action on climate change”.

The interactive map below shows what each country has promised (source:

Note. This is not an exhaustive list of initiatives might be updated.


More information:

The anatomy of an earthquake

Earthquakes are one of the planets most lethal natural forces“, says Professor Iain Stewart in his latest short film describing the anatomy of an earthquake.

The film has been made in association with the Earthquakes without Frontiers (EwF) project, a NERC funded multidisciplinary and multinational project, including CGS academics at the University of Leeds, to understand the earthquake hazard from Europe to far-east Asia.

An important part of this project involves informing and communicating the lessons learnt from the scientific to non-scientific community, particularly locals and government authorities in earthquake prone countries.

More information:
Read more about the EwF project here: