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Saturday 23.06.2018 | Name days: Līga

Five possible natural disasters that worry researchers

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUMassive floods, fires, earthquakes and volcano eruptions – without a doubt, those are natural processes that transpire on earth. These processes are also affected by climate change, which is something mankind is responsible for.

National Geographic channel has compiled a list of possible natural catastrophes environmental researchers are worried about the most:

2050-2100: large territories in Northern Europe and the eastern coast of USA may become flooded

Powerful storms, high tides and rising water level – this is the way the ocean slowly responds to climate change and temperature rise. Sea level rise is affected by arctic glaciers and expansion of water mass as they melt.

Estimates by Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen say the sea level in Scandinavia, England, Netherlands and northern parts of Germany may rise by 1.5 m. There is a relatively high probability (26-27%) that the water level may rise by 1.75 m near London and 1.8 m in Netherlands. Sea level rise by 2 m can cause floods in many cities located along the US eastern coast. Researchers from Virginia Institute of Marine Science have concluded that the sea level may rise by 79 cm in the next forty years. Nearly one-fourth of cities could end up in danger of flooding.

2015-2050: the most powerful forest fires in USA

Hot and dry summers create conditions that increase the risk of fires. Scientists from Harvard Engineering and Applied Research School predict forest fire seasons will become three weeks longer by 2050, which will lead to larger scale of destruction caused by fires. Since 1999, territories impacted by fires have been expanding by 0.9 to 2.6 million ha every year. This means losses worth millions of dollars every year. Last year, a massive fire in Washington had caused losses worth more than EUR 8 million by ravaging 104,000 ha of territory.

Summer forest fires often strike in Portugal, Spain and France. Predictions for the future for fire in that region are not optimistic at all.

2015-2050: the angriest volcanoes in Iceland are expected to wake up

Iceland, which is home to 30 glacier-covered volcanoes, is located on the connecting lines of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Those tectonic plates are said to be gradually moving away from each other. This is why researchers are concerned about any signs of increasing volcanic activity. Especially, considering the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 and the complete paralysis of flights in all of Europe.

Eight thousand years ago Bardarbunga caused the largest volcanic eruption in the past ten thousand years. The last time this volcano erupted was 1910. Noticing underground tremors near the volcano in 2014, Iceland’s Meteorological Service warned about a possible eruption. Meteorologists predicted lots of possible outcomes, ranging from floods to enormous cracks and the eruption of Torfajökull, which could have caused major pollution of local rivers and hydroelectric station. The volcano eruption that was the largest since 1783 lasted for approximately six months. The amount of lava that was shot out of the volcano every five minutes was enough to fill and American football field.

2015-2056: Chile expected to experience mega-earthquakes

Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world. This is because the country is located in the Pacific Ocean’s ‘circle of fire’. This location experiences 75% of all of the world’s tectonic activities. Powerful underground tremors in Chile are felt at least several times every year. On 1 April 2014, there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, causing destruction and two-metre tall waves near the city of Iquique.  It was quickly followed by powerful tremors and another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8.

Iquique is located in an area known for high activity of tectonic plates. In 1960, Chile suffered an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.5, which caused a tsunami in Japan and Hawaii Islands. It is believed to have had been the most powerful registered tectonic cataclysm.

2015-2065: a powerful earthquake could destroy Oregon and cause major destruction in California

Oregon is also located on the connecting area between tectonic plates (Juan de Fuca Plate and North American Plate). It is, however, considered the ‘quietest point of contact of tectonic plates’. It is this supposed seismic silence that makes researchers concerned. Since 2010, researchers have been predicting the possibility of a devastating earthquake in Oregon powerful enough to cause a tsunami and cause damage worth dozens of billion dollars for the US western coast. Researchers are worried about the situation with the entire Cascadia subduction zone (goes from California’s north all the way to Vancouver), because for years the seismic situation there has been similar to that of the state of Japan prior to the earthquake of 2011. The last time there was a major earthquake was noted in California’s south was 1857, when an earthquake with magnitude of 7.9 was registered.

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