Physical Geography Unit 1 Case Studies

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Disaster Hotspots - California

A disaster hotspot is susceptible to at least two hazards - hydrometeorological and geophysical.

California is a disaster hotspot.

In 1906 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit San Fransisco along the San Andreas Fault. A lot of the city (about 80%) was destroyed due to subsequent fires, and at least 3,000 people died. San Fransisco has high vulnerability due to were it is situated on the fault line, and also due to its unstable land and poor areas, however it does have a high capacity to cope, explaining its relatively low death toll compared to some earthquakes (eg. Haiti 2010)

It also suffers from droughts - the wildfires of 2007 killed 22 people and destroyed 1300 homes.

           Hazards x Vulnerability

Risk = ---------------------------------

              Capacity to Cope

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Disaster Hotspots - Philippines

The Philippines is also an example of a disaster hotspot. It is at risk of volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and tropical storms (typhoons).

It is an archipelego made by the the folding of mountains and formation of volcanoes by risen magma at the Philippine and Eurasian plates.

Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991, many buildings and areas used for agricultural were destroyed by fallen ash. Reported 847 people were killed.

The Philippines have around 10 typhoons each year, such as Xangsane which swept across Manila in 2006. This was a densely populated area so homes were destroyed and around 279 people were killed. 

The Philippines has high vulnerability due to it having many poor and densely populated areas. It has a poorer economy and therefore has low capacity to cope, as, for many parts of the country, it cannot afford hazard protection or planning. For this reason its disasters are frequent.

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Climate Change - The Arctic

The Arctic is vulnerable because its sea ice is melting at a rapid rate - some predict there won't be any Summer sea ice by 2030. Permafrost is melting which releases methane.

Impacts of Arcitc Climate Change

Environmental: More fresh water in oceans reduced the salinity of the water and changes currents. Changes air currents which affects global weather patterns (part of an interlinked system). Permafrost releases methane/CO2, further affecting environment. Rising sea levels - more flooding due to more areas being below sea level.

Socio-economic: New shipping routes mean companies can save time and money for fuel, also means less fossil fuels are burnt (better for the environment). May discover new resources which increases employment, wealth, and the time left on resources. Conflicts between countries for resources? Could also create more agricultural land for Inuit people, increasing income. 

Ecological: Loss of species' habitats will mean some will die out, which has negative knock on effects in a complex diverse biological system. Less food for animals such as polar bears. Some unwanted species thrive (eg. More land for agriculture spruce bark beetle which destroy trees at an alarming rate).

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Climate Change - Africa

Africa has such a diverse environment, that climate change over the whole continent affects different parts in different ways.

Dry areas are getting drier. Wet areas are getting wetter. 0.5oc warmer in the last century.

Desertification is occurring due to the growth of the Sahara desert (Sahel region), subject to increasingly dry conditions.

Global warming increases the amount of mosquitos spreading malaria.

Reduced growing periods in dry areas of land, but increased growing periods in the tropical belt across the middle of Africa, including Kenya. Means some of Africa experiences benefits and some experiences consequences.

Also a lot of animals dying due to starvation or flooding (a lot of Africa's economy is tourism to see animals, such as safaris...)

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