2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 4:35 PM


LERNER-LAM, Arthur, CHEN, Robert and DILLEY, Maxx, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia Univ, 61 Route (w, P.O. Box 1000, Palisades, NY 10964, lerner@ldeo.columbia.edu

The Sumatra-Andaman Island earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami are touchstone events for the utilization of the geosciences and geophysical monitoring in sustainable development strategies, as well as for the basic geosciences. The magnitude and complexity of the earthquake and tsunami are reflected in the multinational extent and socio-economic complexity of the human impacts. The humanitarian impact of the disaster, its phenomenological importance and the performance of monitoring and observation networks all motivate the incorporation of natural hazard risk reduction into national and international strategies for sustainable development.

In the context of international development strategies, this disaster is characterized by (1) its geographic scope; (2) its multinational impact; (3) the demography of the casualties and the afflicted populations; and (4) the spectrum of socio-economic loss. Moreover, the roles performed by existing global geophysical monitoring networks and remote sensing in supporting immediate relief and recovery efforts, and the importance of these networks to the subsequent design and implementation of new disaster early warning systems, characterize the relationships among present and future global-scale earth monitoring systems, the building of scientific and technical capacity in less-developed countries, and disaster risk reduction.

The disaster occurred just before a major United Nations conference on disaster reduction, and shortly after the publication of major World Bank and UN reports on natural hazard occurrence and risk. It also has occurred during a period when the attention of wealthier developed countries has been trained on poverty reduction and sustainable development, most unambiguously through the explication of strategies to achieve the UN's Millennium Development Goals. Consequently, the international development community is receptive to the programmatic inclusion of basic and applied geosciences, and global and regional monitoring, in sustainable development agendas. In particular, the transition from tsunami recovery to regional development will be a case study in the inclusion of geosciences and geo-technology in international poverty reduction and development programs.