UCD Earth Institute

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Natural Hazards & Risk

Although our planet is shaped by ongoing processes over millions of years, it is often the extreme events that leave the greatest mark.

Natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanoes, large storms & floods have had profound effects on societies, settlement patterns and cultural heritage.

From a societal perspective extreme events are of special interest with a particular focus on forecasting them and estimating their likely impact.

However, with some exceptions, we cannot mitigate natural hazards but we can reduce the associated risk through our behavioural response to expected hazards. Hence quantifying hazard uncertainty is central to facilitating risk communication and crucial for informing strategies to successfully mitigate our society's vulnerability and increasing is resilience to natural extremes.

Key words: Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Landslides, Earthquakes, Marine Slope Collapse, Flooding, Radiation, Societal Impact, Risk, Risk Management

Earth Institute academics working in this area:





Research impacts

There is increasing awareness about the destructive impacts of flooding and increasing attention is being focused on how best to manage this hazard.

Historically society has attempted to prevent flooding through structural measures. However, with the rising costs of flood damage and increasing number of flood events associated with climate change, there has been a shift to a greater emphasis on non-structural measures.

A group of researchers here in UCD Earth Institute lead by Dr Eoin O’Neill are carrying out research on non-structural measures such as the role of spatial planning, and on people’s preparedness to respond to flooding.

An interesting piece of research currently underway focused on people’s perception of flooding, how people psychologically cope with flooding, and the extent to which this impacts on their individual level of preparedness in anticipation of future floods.

Rogue waves are extreme waves that occasionally rise up to surprising heights and are localised both in time and in space. Since ships, oil rigs and marine renewable energy devices (wave energy converters, tidal energy converters) have not been designed to withstand these exceptional high surface waves, it is extremely important to be able to predict the occurrence of rogue waves.

The research led by Prof. Frederic Dias from UCD Earth Institute aims to apply conceptual advances to explore and resolve open questions on rogue waves, in particular in their generation, forecasting, breaking and in their effects in the whole water column and on floating or submerged structures.

Core theoretical elements uncover the fundamental mechanisms underlying the nonlinear emergence of large-scale coherent structures from a turbulent environment, and resolve basic questions of energy transport in the presence of nonlinearity.

Recent developments in optical technology enable laboratory experiments in optics that accurately simulate realistic propagation scenarios in hydrodynamics and ocean systems. Particular emphasis is placed on extreme rogue wave events which are essentially impossible to study quantitatively in the natural oceanic environment.