Stanford University
Mount Pinatubo explosion

Reducing Disaster Risks

Photo by Alberto Garcia

Understanding threats and reducing risks to human wellbeing

Thousands of lives and billions of dollars have been lost in recent natural disasters such as the 2010 Haiti and 2015 Nepal earthquakes and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Not to mention the hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Geohazards have shaped and reshaped the planet for millennia. Now climate change is adding to the threats, even as urban centers are expanding and more people are living in vulnerable locations.

We study Earth processes—what causes them and how to predict where and when they will happen—but we also seek to reduce the risks to human wellbeing, especially in increasingly populated and vulnerable cities worldwide. Our expertise in both subsurface-originating hazards and the surface changes brought about by shifts in climate and land use provides a unique vantage point from which to analyze a new breed of potential hazards and risks.

Meet some of the faculty involved in Reducing Disaster Risks

Jenny Suckale
Jenny Suckale

Assistant Professor of Geophysics

Simon Klemperer
Simon Klemperer

Professor of Geophysics

Tiziana Vanorio
Tiziana Vanorio

Assistant Professor of Geophysics

greg beroza
Greg Beroza

Professor of Geophysics

Eric Dunham
Eric Dunham

Associate Professor of Geophysics

Howard Zebker
Howard Zebker

Professor of Geophysics and Electrical Engineering

Paul Segall
Paul Segall

Professor of Geophysics

A "billion sensors" earthquake observatory with optical fibers

The same optical fibers that deliver high-speed internet and HD video to our homes could one day double as seismic sensors for monitoring and studying earthquakes.

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New tool to reduce risk of triggering manmade earthquakes

A new software tool can help reduce the risk of manmade earthquakes by calculating the probability that oil and gas injection activities will trigger slip in nearby faults.

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News related to Reducing Disaster Risks

Building resilience in the era of megafire

Climate change and decades of fire suppression have fueled increasingly destructive wildfires across the western U.S. and Canada. Stanford scholars and wildfire experts outline how a path forward requires responsive management, risk reduction, and Indigenous stewardship.

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Plant processes may be key to predicting drought development

Based on new analyses of satellite data, scientists have found that hydrologic conditions that increase flash drought risk occur more often than current models predict. The research also shows that incorporating how plants change soil structures can improve Earth system models.

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Coastal cathedrals

Years after Hurricane Katrina altered his life’s course, Elliott White Jr. set out to understand what drives coastal wetland loss as a way to help lessen harm from future climate impacts for vulnerable coastal communities. (Source: Stanford News)

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Wildfire smoke exposure hurts learning outcomes

Pollution from wildfires is linked to lower test scores and possibly lower future earnings for kids growing up with more smoke days at school, a new study finds. Impacts of smoke exposure on earnings are disproportionately borne by economically disadvantaged communities of color.

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