Natural Disaster Research by Lydia Bjornlund

By Lydia Bjornlund

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The USGS then sent a team of geologists to map all of the active faults and identify regions at risk of landslides. GPS measurements helped scientists calculate the accumulation of stresses on the geological faults in the area. All of this information was used to create earthquake hazard maps, which use color coding to provide a view of the areas that are more and less vulnerable to ground shaking. The resulting map is intended to be used as a guide in the rebuilding process. Walter Mooney, a seismologist on the team that visited Haiti, explains: 53 CHAPTER FOUR The safest places to rebuild are going to be near hard rock sites.

Hurricane Hunters Because buoys are stationary, they tend to provide limited information about a storm, so scientists have looked for other ways to get direct mea48 surements. One of the few ways to accomplish this is to fly directly into the path of the storm, a task that falls to teams of pilots and scientists who have come to be known as hurricane hunters. The first pilot to intentionally fly into a storm was Army Air Force colonel Joseph Duckworth in 1943. Duckworth wrote of the experience: As we broke into the “eye” of the storm we .

Analysts then can input data on precipitation, and the computer will show what would happen—how much of the rainfall could be absorbed into the soil and how much it would contribute to a rise in water levels. Automated calculations also can help researchers to determine the extent and depth of flooding. A similar process is used by scientists at the National Weather Service to model the storm surge from a hurricane. The National Weather Service has created specialized storm surge software called SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) that enables them to predict storm surge based on the amount of precipitation, seawater levels, tides, and a host of other factors.

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