Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earth Scientists Use Fractals To Measure And Predict Natural Disasters

Date:
January 31, 2002
Source:
American Institute Of Physics
Summary:
Predicting the size, location, and timing of natural hazards is virtually impossible, but now, earth scientists are able to forecast hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and landslides using fractals.

Predicting the size, location, and timing of natural hazards is virtually impossible, but now, earth scientists are able to forecast hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and landslides using fractals. A fractal is a mathematical formula of a pattern that repeats over a wide range of size and time scales. These patterns are hidden within more complex systems. A good example of a fractal is the branching system of a river. Small tributaries join to form larger and larger "branches" in the system, but each small piece of the system closely resembles the branching pattern as a whole.

At the American Geophysical Union meeting held last month, Benoit Mandelbrot, a professor of mathematical sciences at Yale University who is considered to be the father of fractals, described how he has been using fractals to find order within complex systems in nature, such as the natural shape of a coastline. As a result of his research, earth scientists are taking Mandelbrot’s fractal approach one step further and are measuring past events and making probability forecasts about the size, location, and timing of future natural disasters.

"By understanding the fractal order and scale imbedded in patterns of chaos, researchers found a deeper level of understanding that can be used to predict natural hazards," says Christopher Barton, a research geologist at the United States Geological Survey, "They can measure past events like a hurricane and then apply fractal mathematics to predict future hurricane events."

In the past, earth scientists have relied on statistical methods to forecast natural hazard events, but when Barton used fractals, he found that these patterns contain a level of information that has never been seen using statistical methods. Barton discovered that by comparing the fractal formulas of the size and frequency of a hurricane’s wind speed to the historic record of information about past hurricane landfall location and timing that he was able to predict the approximate wind speed of the hurricane when it made landfall at a given coastal location along the United States Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

Forecasts of hazardous natural phenomena based on the application of fractals are now available to government agencies responsible for planning and responding to natural disasters such the Federal Emergency Management Association and other emergency personnel to be able to better forecast the size, location, and timing of future events. "Based on the fractal patterns seen over the past 100 years," says Barton, "We can better forecast the probability of a future event."

Thanks to Dr. Mandelbrot, earth scientists like Dr. Barton have a powerful, new tool to predict future chaotic events of nature.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute Of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute Of Physics. "Earth Scientists Use Fractals To Measure And Predict Natural Disasters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020131073853.htm>.
American Institute Of Physics. (2002, January 31). Earth Scientists Use Fractals To Measure And Predict Natural Disasters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020131073853.htm
American Institute Of Physics. "Earth Scientists Use Fractals To Measure And Predict Natural Disasters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020131073853.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Using an organic fertiliser, a conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), leads an award-winning project to reforest the sanctuary of monarch butterflies. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins