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Devastation in the wake of the Boxing Day tsunami. EPA/Barbara Walton

Boxing Day tsunami heralded new era of citizen journalism

The camera jerks as the wave crashes through the wall of the restaurant. The tables set out for a wedding breakfast are swept aside. The man behind the camera doesn’t realise the awful reality of what…
Only a community development approach can truly result in ‘build back better’ when it comes to responding to natural disasters such as the Boxing Day tsunami. EPA/Peter Endig

Boxing Day tsunami: balancing social and physical recovery

There have been many natural disasters since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but none have exceeded it in the combination of scale and scope of its destructive impacts. The scale of devastation for coastal…
The day after: a Sri Lankan man begins the slow process of rebuilding. EPA/Mike Nelson

Ten years after the Boxing Day tsunami, are coasts any safer?

Ten years ago we witnessed one of the worst natural disasters in history, when a huge earthquake off the coast of Sumatra triggered a devastating tsunami which swept across the Indian Ocean. An estimated…
The AAL Fremantle, borne along by a meteotsunami, hits the rail bridge next to Fremantle Harbour. ‏@Mattiegeesu via Twitter

Explainer: how weather can trigger dangerous tsunamis

At around 10pm on Sunday 17 August 2014, the container ship AAL Fremantle was being unloaded after arriving in Western Australia’s Fremantle Harbour, when it broke away from its mooring and collided with…
There is more freedom and more reasons to smile in Burma than in the past – but will this girl and others in her generation share the spoils of the nation’s resources boom? Dietmar Temps

Burma emerges from a shadowy past, but real progress lies ahead

Our Tropical Future: A new report on the State of the Tropics has revealed rapid changes in human and environmental health in the Earth’s tropical regions. This is the final in a four-part series about…
Disasters such as the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami show how vulnerable cities are. Sendai pictured here. U.S. Pacific Fleet/Flickr

Cities are failing to cope with global challenges

The old German saying Stadt Luft Macht Frei (“urban air makes you free”) is the defining injunction of modernity. Modern western cities were launched as the vessels of liberation from a human era darkened…
Fishing boats stranded by the 2011 tsunami, with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Book review: Fukushima

Three years ago today, Japan was hit by the strongest earthquake ever measured in that country – and Fukushima became an international by-word for disaster. Now, as Japan tries to put its past behind it…
Women: first to mobilise, last to be considered. Simminch

Women worse off when it comes to natural disasters

The Philippines. Pakistan. New Orleans. Sri Lanka. All have suffered catastrophic disasters in recent times. And the emergence of “climate refugees” – populations displaced by extreme weather events…
German crew members install ocean bottom Seismometers which formed part of a tsunami early warning system in the Indian ocean. AAP/Mast Irham

Solomons earthquake tests international warning system

A magnitude 8 earthquake that struck today off the Solomon Islands is not a risk to Australia, but has destroyed three villages…
A prison official examines damage to the prison wall that collapsed after this week’s earthquake in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Hotli Simanjuntak/EPA

The Sumatran earthquake didn’t cause a tsunami because …

The earthquake that struck roughly 400km off the coast of Sumatra on Wednesday reminded us all that our planet hasn’t gone to sleep. Big earthquakes can happen at any time and often have severe consequences…
The carpet of sludge and debris left by 2011’s tsunami wreaked havoc on paddyfields. AAP

Swamped with saltwater: what a tsunami does to rice farmers

Japan’s tsunami of March 11 2011 brought a wall of water laden with debris up to 5 kilometres inland from the sea. After the surge receded, the surrounding farming area was left covered in debris and a…
We know how much damage tsunamis can cause, we need to know more about when and where they come from. AAP

We should have been prepared for the Fukushima tsunami

A year ago yesterday the Tōhoku-Oki earthquake and resultant tsunami hit the Japanese coastline, triggering the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster. A year on, many questions are being asked about how bad…
We can’t tame the oceans, but modelling can help us better understand them. Badruddeen

Super models – using maths to mitigate natural disasters

Last year will go on record as one of significant natural disasters both in Australia and overseas. Indeed, the flooding of the Brisbane River in January is still making news as the Queensland floods inquiry…
How does Queensland tourism recover after a cyclone and floods earlier this year? AFP Photo/Paul Crcok

Danger in paradise: resurrecting tourism after natural disasters

This year’s natural disasters have been an omnipresent and unwelcome theme impacting on tourism to Japan, New Zealand, Queensland and Thailand. Long after the initial horror of a natural disaster, the…
Despite the clear benefits, Japan’s agricultural sector seems resistent to an FTA with Australia. AAP

After the disasters, can we revive a free trade agreement with Japan?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was one of the first world leaders to visit Japan after the nation was stricken on 3 March by the earthquake-tsunami-radiation triple disaster. But the Australian government…

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