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Earthquake disaster fatality data: Temporally stable power-law behavior and effects of underreporting
Uppsala universitet, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Geovetenskapliga sektionen, Institutionen för geovetenskaper, Geofysik. (Seismologi)ORCID-id: 0000-0002-6337-7839
Uppsala universitet, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Geovetenskapliga sektionen, Institutionen för geovetenskaper, Geofysik.ORCID-id: 0000-0001-7251-0059
Uppsala universitet, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Geovetenskapliga sektionen, Institutionen för geovetenskaper, Geofysik.ORCID-id: 0000-0002-2511-187X
Uppsala universitet, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Geovetenskapliga sektionen, Institutionen för geovetenskaper, Geofysik.ORCID-id: 0000-0002-0789-5949
(Engelska)Ingår i: Seismological Research Letters, ISSN 0895-0695, E-ISSN 1938-2057Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Submitted
Abstract [en]

We investigate changes in the global reported fatalities from earthquake disasters in theleading global disaster database EM-DAT. Drawing parallels with the Gutenberg-Richterfrequency-magnitude analysis, in terms of disaster frequency versus the number of casual-ties, we see a significant overlap of the curves and improving levels of completeness oversix 20-year periods. This implies a decrease in underreporting with time. We find that theapparent strong upwards trend in the number of (reported) earthquake disasters in EM-DATis caused by a gradually improved reporting primarily of events killing fewer than 10 peo-ple. An implication of our findings is that the true (reported and unreported) number ofearthquake disasters, according to the EM-DAT definition, has been surprisingly constantover, at least, the last 100 years. We also show that the average annual number of peoplekilled in earthquake disasters is relatively unaffected by spurious trends in reporting, and hasremained remarkably constant, at least since the 1960s, despite population increase.

Nationell ämneskategori
Geofysik
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-517254OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-517254DiVA, id: diva2:1817354
Tillgänglig från: 2023-12-06 Skapad: 2023-12-06 Senast uppdaterad: 2023-12-13
Ingår i avhandling
1. Bias-adjusted analysis of global natural disaster records and an assessment of seismic hazard in Sweden
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Bias-adjusted analysis of global natural disaster records and an assessment of seismic hazard in Sweden
2024 (Engelska)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

Natural disasters pose significant challenges today and demand efficient allocation of society’s limited resources for disaster risk reduction. This relies on analysis of natural disaster records, which are prone to (reporting) biases that can affect the inferences drawn from their analysis. Data incompleteness is common in earthquake seismology, and, with a starting point in the Gutenberg-Richter law, this thesis studies the power-law behaviour between fatalities and the frequency of global natural disasters recorded by EM-DAT from 1900 to 2020. 

Analysing, first, the power-law behaviour of global earthquake frequency and magnitude reveals overlapping patterns, and apparent improved reporting completeness over the studied periods, implying any increase in recorded earthquakes is a reporting artefact. Similarly, “frequency-magnitude” analysis of earthquake disasters shows power-law behaviour and an almost-unchanged distribution of fatalities over time, which also implies improved reporting. Similar analysis of hydro-meteorological disasters in EM-DAT shows their substantially increased number with time to be a reporting artefact driven by improved reporting of low-fatality disasters. The increasing gradient of the power-law part of the frequency-magnitude graphs implies that the worst events have become less fatal on average.  

Climate-related disaster risk reduction actions have thus been very successful, resulting in a continuous decline in aggregate associated fatalities, to the extent that earthquakes have been the most fatal natural disasters over the last few decades.  Notably, while the earthquake magnitude distribution is dominated by earthquakes in high-seismicity zones, fatalities predominantly occur in low-seismicity intraplate regions. This implies that seismic hazard in Sweden, an intraplate area, may be significant, especially as earthquakes as large as M8 have occurred in its recent deglaciation phase. Hazard analysis based on data from the recently expanded Swedish seismic network clearly unveils significant hazard posed by Post-Glacial faults in the North. 

This research advances our understanding of natural disaster dynamics, emphasizing the necessity for non-conventional methodologies to analyze historical data. It offers important insights to help form effective disaster risk reduction strategies, particularly in the context of seismic hazard assessment for specific regions like Sweden.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2024. s. 73
Serie
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 2347
Nyckelord
Power-law, Natural-disasters, Seismic-hazard assessment.
Nationell ämneskategori
Geofysik
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-517257 (URN)978-91-513-1985-8 (ISBN)
Disputation
2024-03-01, Hambergsalen, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 13:00 (Engelska)
Opponent
Handledare
Tillgänglig från: 2024-02-07 Skapad: 2023-12-06 Senast uppdaterad: 2024-02-07

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Roberts, RolandTryggvason, AriLund, Björn

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