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HRD Learning under uncertainty – Bath Spa University

Natural Hazards: Learning Under Uncertainty

Wednesday 16 November, 2022 – Wednesday 16 November, 2022
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2022-23.

Dealing with natural hazards often means predicting and acting under uncertainty. While this uncertainty may have a negative connotation, it is an essential part of communicating and supporting decisions about natural hazards. Regardless, research on natural hazards and disasters has seen a steep, though selective, rise in the amount and diversity of freely available data, and many new technologies to use them. Data have become ubiquitous and made information a powerful currency. Yet, more than ever, we need to filter from these data for making informed predictions, thus adding new layers of uncertainty.

Rapid contemporary climate change and expanding human activities further require that we move away from purely static hazard appraisals. Still, many empirical models in the geosciences rely on estimated averages that largely miss out on variability of form and process. While computational advances have propelled probabilistic models to deal with uncertainties thoroughly and objectively, the resulting products can be challenging to communicate to both researchers and laypersons. Drawing on several examples of predicting impacts by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and glacial outburst floods, I highlight some of the underlying pitfalls and potentials of dealing with uncertainties tied to natural hazards.

About the speaker

Oliver Korup is a professor of natural hazards at the University of Potsdam, Germany. He researches and teaches at the interface between natural hazards, geomorphology, and data science. He has worked on rapid erosion and sediment transport in active mountain belts and their forelands in High Asia, the Andes, the European Alps, and the Southern Alps of New Zealand. His current research interests concern objective methods of predicting the occurrence and consequences of rare events such as large, catastrophic landslides, pyroclastic eruptions, and glacial lake outburst floods.

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