24 Jun 2022


Monitoring Our Home Planet

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 1964

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Throughout human history, natural phenomena have bombarded civilizations with disasters that cause enormous devastation and losses in human life, property and the economy. Statistics have indicated that in the recent decades, natural disasters have been on the rise throughout the globe. Significant numbers of lives have been lost, and economies of countries have been devastated, not to mention the large proportion of social development set back that has been experienced. Monitoring of disasters has, therefore, become an intrinsic part of future planning and preparedness. Geological, hydrological and meteorological hazards cause disasters that are recurrent every year, and they include floods, storm surges, landslides, earthquakes, tropical cyclones, droughts, wildfires just to mention a few. Their resurgence every year has facilitated the essence of monitoring them for the essence of risk reduction (Smith. 2013). The developments of the internet and other technologies have enabled the monitoring of such disasters more closely. Internet applications in monitoring natural phenomena are huge, and its potential has far-reaching impacts on emergency preparedness, monitoring, and response. The ability of the internet to be virtually available in almost all places in the globe has presented scientists and disaster managers with a unique opportunity to utilize the resource to their advantage in monitoring natural phenomena. 

Natural phenomena responsible for natural disasters 

Natural disaster occurrence has been on the rise in recent years, and some of the most profound natural phenomena that can be attributed to these disasters include earthquakes, droughts, and epidemics. Together, their impacts have been felt in all over the globe and therefore will form the basis of this paper’s analysis. 

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Earthquakes and their impacts 

Earthquakes are described as the sudden movement or vibration of the earth's surface, phenomena caused by seismic waves. They are one of the most destructive forces on the planet, as the movement of the seismic waves depending on their magnitude may destroy everything in their path. There are several causes of earthquakes that are known, and they include faulting and volcanic activity and the motion of tectonic plates either in a collision mode or divergent mode. Earthquakes take place in various degrees and range from minor tremors to violent quakes. 

There are various degrees of impacts that are caused by earthquakes depending on the magnitude recorded. Major earthquakes that are recorded over 6.1 in the magnitude scale have the potential to cause havoc to entire areas that are directly hit by the earthquake. Physical impacts of earthquakes include damage and destruction of structures and the infrastructures, landslides, dam failures and damage to water systems as well as fires that may erupt due to electrical failures (Avvenuti, Cresci, Marchetti, Meletti & Tesconi 2014). Other impacts include loss of life, injuries to many people especially in urban areas, environmental degradation, and contamination of water sources that may lead to disease and the collapse of sanitary conditions. 

Droughts and their impacts 

Droughts refer to a temporary condition where there is a reduced water as well as moisture availability that goes well below the expected amount that is presumed to be reasonable to an area for a specified timeframe. There are various types of droughts, and they include metrological drought; that is defined by a significant reduction of normal rainfall in an area for a particular period. Hydrological drought; it refers to the situation where there is a drop or reduction in ground water levels, and a reduced flow in the natural streams as well as the stored water supplies. Agricultural drought is a condition that arises when soil moisture levels are too low to sustain regular yields of crops in an area. 

Impacts of droughts vary depending on the severity of the drought and the period that it stays in effect. Fluctuations of rainfall leve4ls as well as long-term climate changes contribute to this effect and causes devastation on various aspects which include: major economic devastation is felt due to drought, some are direct, and some are indirect. Direct impacts include low yields of crops and therefore trade in food product drops, elevation of inflation rates, famine, farmers experience low incomes (Hao, AghaKouchak, Nakhjiri, & Farahmand 2014). Droughts may also affect the production of hydroelectric power. Indirect impacts arise as secondary impacts that are caused by initial adverse effects. They include disease due to malnutrition, high inflation rates, increased conflicts due to the scarcity of water, the recession of the economy, and slower social development. 

Epidemics phenomena and their impacts 

Living organisms and toxins are natural phenomena that have been part of human civilization since time immemorial. Throughout history as well as in the recent years, exposure to such toxins has caused a sum of cases that can be accredited to the parasitic or infectious origin. Epidemics are characterized by a large number of outbreak cases that have the potential to spread disease across borders, and high risk of economic and social disruption, with severe disease that can potentially cause death as well as disability (Peterson, Heim Hirsch, Kaiser, Brooks, Diffenbaugh, & Katz, 2013). 

Adverse impacts of epidemics include deaths and disability to large numbers of people due to disease and infection. High level of social disruptions in the society as trauma increases among the affected population. Huge economic losses may be incurred as businesses are halted, international travel advisories stated, and the high cost of treatment to the affected population. Epidemics related to pests and crop diseases have impacts that include famine due to food shortages, and economic disruption in the agriculture biased economies. 

Internet Monitoring of natural hazards 

In the current age of technology, the internet has been a useful tool in the monitoring of natural hazards. It has been employed towards establishing notifications of impending disasters and their progress. The extent to which the internet has been deployed depends on several factors such as the country the natural phenomenon occurs, economic prowess, as well as other political factors. 


All parts of the earth’s surface are susceptible to earthquakes, but due to geological features of the earth's surface, some areas experience them more frequently than others. Plate tectonic boundaries produce the most frequent earthquakes on the earth's surface due to movements such as collision or sliding. Locations that are most affected include areas around edges of the Pacific plate. They include New Zealand, Vanuatu, Haiti, and the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Japan, and the Americas especially in the west coast region (Avvenuti, Cresci, Marchetti, Meletti & Tesconi 2014). Other areas include Indonesia that is placed in the area where the Indo-Australian plate is active. 

The drought has the potential to occur in virtually every place on earth. However, due to various capabilities of different countries, some countries are ill prepared for the hazard. Several countries are at the risk of droughts and have experienced drought more frequently. The most severe drought hit countries include Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Morocco, and Pakistan (Hao, AghaKouchak, Nakhjiri, & Farahmand 2014). These countries are among the few that have been recently hit by drought. 

Epidemics phenomena may occur anywhere in the globe that has the potential to spread and the right conditions to develop. At one instance in history, most of the countries in the world have been hit by an epidemic of some sort. For instance, taking the case of the cholera epidemic in 2015; according to the world health organization, cholera outbreak spread in several African countries including, DRC, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Tanzania. In the Americas, the outbreak was in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In Asia, cholera cases were reported in Iraq and Afghanistan ( Mei, & Zirong,2015). 

Monitoring Resources 

Every country in the globe has allocated resources for disaster preparedness and therein includes resources for monitoring natural phenomena that have the potential to cause disaster. For earthquakes there exist some resources allocated to monitoring and they include; creep meters, tilt meters and strain meters. They are used to detect movement of the earth surfaces that have the potential to cause earthquakes. Slight movement recorded by these monitoring resources indicate the vulnerability levels. Similarly, droughts are monitored throughout the world and resources allocated weather and precipitation indicators. Every country has meteorological departments that work in close coordination with disaster mitigation to track precipitation and weather patterns are also used as indicators of droughts. Resources include weather satellites for monitoring changes, water level indicators as well as the standardized precipitation index. The world health organization coordinates monitoring epidemics, and every country has a responsibility to monitor. Resources available in the monitoring process include health care records, as well as the global outbreak alert network (Xu, Zhang, Sugumaran, Choo, Mei, & Zhu 2016). This is necessary to keep track of infectious diseases for the purpose of containment. 

Web resources 

A web resource available for monitoring earthquakes includes the Global Seismographic Network (GSN) which is a digital seismic network can provide real-time data. The data is used for surveillance and observation of the seismic movement as well as research on earthquakes. Technologies involved in these resources include microbarographs, GPS systems, Geomag as well as meteorological packages (Lillesand, Kiefer & Chipman 2014).The international federation of digital seismograph networks is an international organization that coordinates GSN activities. 

There are web resources available for monitoring droughts, and several areas and countries have different systems. They include the drought monitoring system that is an online service and employs remote sensing to display drought progression through constant assessment used in South Asia. Other web resources include national drought mitigation center website used by the United States. 

Epidemics are monitored using various web resources, and they include communicable disease surveillance and response systems. They provide information on possible epidemic cases. Other web resources include the use of GIS as well as web query data monitoring system that enables analysis of internet searches to monitor possible outbreaks. In Africa, online resources that have been used for both droughts and epidemics such as malaria is the online operational rainfall-monitoring resource. 

Political concerns 

Political Concerns for Developed and Less Developed Countries 

Disaster preparedness is the responsibility of governments around the world to safeguard the lives, economies, and development of their citizens. Technologies for the preparedness bring a unique political relationship between the developed countries and the developing countries. Since the developed world can develop and deploy such technologies, while the less developed do not have that privilege. The developed countries use their technological advancement to propel their agenda to the developing countries. As a political bargaining tool, they can get extra political mileage in the international system in return (Sylves, 2014). This cycle is propelled down to the deployment of such systems in developing countries. 

Political concern among developing countries 

Presented with a situation of scarce resources and technological capabilities, developing countries take two political directions to attain the disaster preparedness technologies. One, they actively compete against each other to gain favor from the developed countries. Two, they forge a political corporation for the purpose of mutual gain from the deployment of the technology. Most developing countries tend to corporate, for instance, the South Asia countries cooperated for a chance of the United States to fund and deploy the drought monitoring system technology in the region (Sylves, 2014).  

Economics Factor 

Disaster preparedness technologies may impact the economies of countries differently depending on their deployment or not. For the countries that have deployed these technologies, they have invested in the security of their economies; investments can be made wisely. In this case, these technologies have apositive impact on the economy; for instance countries with drought monitoring systems have more people investing in agriculture. This boosts the economy of the country(Paton, & Johnston, 2017). The same is true of the epidemic monitoring system that its relevance with the epidemic monitoring system. For countries that do not possess the technology, the economy will be affected with the demonstration of slow growth. This can be attributed to the unavailability of information provided by the technology. Before investments, investors require information to make informed choices; in a situation where there are many unknowns, investments may take time and countries without that technology present such a challenge. 

Summary and conclusions 

Disaster preparedness technologies have become intrinsic to the current interconnected world of technology. Solutions for disaster management are found within the developed systems to help alleviate suffering due to disasters. With continued advancement of disasters preparedness technology, it will be possible to significantly reduce vulnerabilities and risk to the human populations. However, despite there are impending economic losses in the large investment for monitoring. This is because despite monitoring, natural phenomena can hardly be tamed and therefore the investment of monitoring is arguably pointless. The force of nature is soo great that no amount of preparedness can prevent the devastating effect of such phenomena. As demonstrated by the earthquake that hit Haiti and caused huge devastation. 


Smith, K. (2013).  Environmental hazards: assessing risk and reducing disaster . Routledge. 

Avvenuti, M., Cresci, S., Marchetti, A., Meletti, C., & Tesconi, M. (2014, August). EARS (earthquake alert and report system): a real-time decision support system for earthquake crisis management. In  Proceedings of the 20th ACM SIGKDD international conference on knowledge discovery and data mining  (pp. 1749-1758). ACM. 

Hao, Z., AghaKouchak, A., Nakhjiri, N., & Farahmand, A. (2014). Global integrated drought monitoring and prediction system.  Scientific Data 1 , 140001. 

Peterson, T. C., Heim Jr, R. R., Hirsch, R., Kaiser, D. P., Brooks, H., Diffenbaugh, N. S., ... & Katz, R. W. (2013). Monitoring and understanding changes in heat waves, cold waves, floods, and droughts in the United States: state of knowledge.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94 (6), 821-834. 

Mei, Z., & Zirong, Y. (2015, August). The design of Epidemic monitoring platform based on ArcGIS. In  Distributed Computing and Applications to Business Engineering and Science (DCABES), 2015 14th International Symposium on (pp. 380-383). IEEE. 

Xu, Z., Zhang, H., Sugumaran, V., Choo, K. K. R., Mei, L., & Zhu, Y. (2016). Participatory sensing-based semantic and spatial analysis of urban emergency events using mobile social media.  EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking 2016 (1), 44. 

Lillesand, T., Kiefer, R. W., & Chipman, J. (2014).  Remote sensing and image interpretation . John Wiley & Sons. 

Paton, D., & Johnston, D. (2017).  Disaster resilience: an integrated approach . Charles C Thomas Publisher. 

Sylves, R. (2014).  Disaster policy and politics: Emergency management and homeland security . CQ Press. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Monitoring Our Home Planet.


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