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  Report - NH9.07 Natural Hazards Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure

The series on "Natural hazards impact on large cities and on infrastructure" started 1999 at the EGS XXIV General Assembly in The Hague, The Netherlands, 19-23 April 1999, including separate sessions on earthquakes (organised by F. Wenzel from Karlsruhe and P. Suhadolc from Trieste), landslides (organised by F. Guzzetti from Perugia and E.E. Brabb from Palo Alto, CA) and floods (organised by I. Becchi) as hazards. The session on earthquakes was and has been ever since the most popular (it included in 1999 two oral blocks and a poster block). The series were then continued as Session "Natural Hazards Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure" in the organisation of Prof. F. Wenzel from the Universität Karlsruhe, Germany, and Prof. P. Suhadolc from the University of Trieste, Italy, as an earthquake focused session at the EGS XXV General Assembly in Nice, France, 25-29 April 2000 and at the EGS XXVI General Assembly in Nice, France, 25 - 30 March 2001. At the EGS XXVII General Assembly, Nice, France, April 2002 the session featured again contributions dealing with various kinds of hazards affecting urban areas and infrastructure, like floods, volcanoes, rock fall and permafrost, being organised by Prof. Juan Carlos Mosquera from Univ. Politecnica de Madrid.

The format of the session "Natural Hazards’ Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure" used to be of about 20 papers.

Fig. 1: Contributions to the session "Natural Hazards Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure" 1999-2005

The hazards covered since 1999 were: earthquakes, landslides/rock falls, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, permafrost, weathering, heavy metals as well as permafrost.

Fig. 2: Hazards covered in the session "Natural Hazards Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure", 1999-2005

During this time span, about two thirds were concept based and one third case studies, related to Europe in general, Italy, Romania, Greece, Germany, England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Portugal, Norway, Spain, Albania, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Japan, Taiwan, India, Peru, Honduras and Jamaica.

Fig. 3: Practical and theoretical approaches, as presented within the session "Natural Hazards Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure"

2002 opened first the opportunity to actively participate in the organisation of the session, as chairperson, opened for Maria Bostenaru, at that time researcher based at Universität Karlsruhe. after which an invitation to act as deputy organiser in the General Assembly in 2003 followed. In 2003, the EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, held in Nice, France, 06 – 11 April, marked the founding of the EGU. Given the size of the event, larger sessions were aimed for, and so the contributions submitted were included into the session "Multidisciplinary approaches in natural hazard risk assessment".

At the 1st General Assembly of the EGU, the session on "Natural Hazards Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure", held in Nice, France, 25 – 30 April 2004, took place again (5th time), organised by Maria Bostenaru, Xavier Goula (Institut Cartografic de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain) and Christophe Martin (GEOTER International, Roquevaire, France). At the 2nd General Assembly, held in Vienna, Austria, 24 – 29 April 2005, Maria Bostenaru continued organising the session together with Xavier Goula. At the 3rd General Assembly of the EGU, held in Vienna, Austria 02 – 07 April 2006, the session took place again, and, while welcoming papers from all fields of various natural hazards, giving a special emphasis to the interdependencies in mitigating earthquake and flood hazard, and respectively earthquake and landslide hazard, in the organisation of Maria Bostenaru, in the meantime based in Pavia, Italy, and Heidi Kreibich from the GFZ Potsdam, Germany.

An important part of past session was devoted to assessment of earthquake shaking and loss scenarios, including both physical damage and human causalities. Early warning and rapid damage evaluation are of utmost importance for addressing the safety of many essential facilities, for emergency management of events and for disaster response. In case of earthquake occurrence strong motion networks, data processing and interpretation lead to preliminary estimation (scenarios) of geographical distribution of damages. Factual information on inflicted damage, like those obtained from shaking maps or aerial imagery permit a confrontation with simulation maps of damage in order to define a more accurate picture of the overall losses. Most recent developments towards quantitative and qualitative simulation of natural hazard impacts on urban areas, which provide decision-making support for urban disaster management, and success stories of and lessons learned from disaster mitigation have been presented. The session has included contributions showing methodological and modelling approaches from scientists in geophysical/seismological, hydrological, remote sensing, civil engineering, insurance, and urbanism, amongst other fields, as well as presentations from practitioners working on specific case studies, regarding analysis of recent events and their impact on cities as well as re-evaluation of past events from the point of view of long-time recovery.

In 2006, again a successful mix of various hazards has been achieved. Two oral sessions have shown contributions on landslides, floods and stroms and then on earthquakes and floods respectively, with solicited talks from the fields of landslides and earthquakes:

  • Dr. Reginald Hermanns from the Canadian Geological Survey with a talk on the "Multinational Andean Project – Geosciences for Andean Communties", an international project focusing on geoscience and communication;

  • Prof. Rainer Flesch from Arsenal Research Vienna on works within the European Integrated Project LESSLOSS concerning strategies for the assessment of earthquake resistance of important existing buildings. The LESSLOSS project is focusing on risk mitigation on both earthquakes and landslides, with active participation of numerous partners from academia and industry. Prof. Flesch talk focused on the work within the subproject co-ordinated Arsenal Research, namely "In-situ assessment, monitoring and typification of buildings and infrastructures", with an attractive presentation including landmarks of the country hosting the EGU General Assembly.

Both the oral and the poster sessions were sheduled for Friday, the 7th of April 2006: the poster session in the morning 10:30-12:00 and the oral sessions in the afternoon: 13:30-17:00, with a coffee break (15:00-15:30).

The first oral session was chaired by the convener of the session, Maria Bostenaru, and the second oral session by Katrin Fleschbein from the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam.

The following talk before the coffee break was given by Fritz Hatzfeld from Hydrotech, Water and Environment Consulting Engineers GmbH (authors Hatzfeld, F.; Friedeheim, K.; Müller, M.; Seltmann, J.; Wagner, A.) on "URBAS - Prediction and management of flash floods in urban areas". The next contribution was by Schanze, and Nobis on "Implementing flood risks in regional and urban plans in the light of the upcoming European Flood Directive - A Czech-German study". The last talk in this first oral session was given by Rutger de Graaf, doctoral candidate at the TU Delft on "Utilization of local water resources to reduce vulnerability of urban areas for climate change".
Unfortunately do to illness Patrick Heneka could not give the talk on "Storm damage risk of Germany" and chair the poster session.

In the second oral session the talk by Arzu Taylan could not be given, due to problems in attending the conference. So after the solicited talk it was continued with a third earthquake related paper by a group from Spain (Benito, M. B.; Murphy, P. ; Tsige, M.; Jiménez Peńa, M. E.; García-Rodríguez, M. J.; Gaspar-Escribano , J. M.; García-Mayordomo, J.) on "Seismic risk in the Region of Murcia. RISMUR Project". The Dagmar Haase presented a work on "Integrated urban flood risk management using hydrological and damage potential modelling" and Jim Lever one on "Ice Jam Flood Risk Reduction Strategies" (main author Kathleen White).

Before coming to the end of the session, a discussion slot after the last oral presentation, a short overview of the contributed posters will be given.

The session closed with a short discussion of past and future of the session series. The poster displays included an overview of publications resulting from the session series, including the special issue in the Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering, in print that time. From the session this year a special issue is in planning, to be published in a general Natural Hazards related journal, in order to include the whole bandwidth of hazards of the session. For next year the session will be proposed again to be organised by the same conveners together with Agostino Goretti from the Italian National Seismic Survey, and you are welcome to contribute!

The poster session was to be chaited by Patrick Heneka, who, as mentioned, due to illness could not attend. It was impossible to the session organiser to take personally a look to all the posters, particularly because of the presentation of the own ones. There included a presentation of the project currently performed by the convener: "ca'redivivus: early RC housing and urban seismic risk", a joint contribution with the scientist-in-charge, Rui Pinho. This two years project is funded with a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, of which the convener of the session benefits, by the European Commission. Then a 'slice' from the project, a case study, was presented in another poster, an approach adopted by the presentation of two other projects in the session as well, as it will be seen. This contribution was entitled: "A case study of the role of earthquake displacement spectra in assessing physical vulnerability of buildings". A full paper on the later has been recently accepted for the proceedings volume of the First European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, 3-8 September 2006, Geneva, Switzerland. Therefore the selective summary which follows.

The poster array started with a sample supported overview of publications arising from the session series "Natural Hazards' Impact on Urban Areas and Infrastructure". It was followed by a very interesting presentation from the municipality of Istanbul by Metin Ikkisik (authors: Ozeyranli Ergenc, Ilkisik and Turk), entitled "Earthquake Risk and Mitigation Studies in Istanbul", which generated lively discussions with fellow attendees at the conference and openings for future networking. The poster was accompanied, like many others, by A4 flyers, but during discussions also a recent brochure (2005, 28 pages) of the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul on the Earthquake Master Plan of Istanbul was handed out. Other lively discussions accompanied two posters by a research group from Germany: "HAMBURG – A DYNAMIC UNDERGROUND (The HADU project)" (authors: Reuther, C.-D.; Buurman, N.; Reiss, S.) and "Profiling of sinkholes in the metropolitan region of Hamburg and Lüneburg with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)" (authors: Buurman, N.; Reuther, C.-D.). The co-ordinators of the Graduiertenkolleg 450 "Naturkatatrophen" at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany presented this programme fundend by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the poster contribution by Mark Mueller and Stefan Senitz: "The interdisciplinary Postgraduate Programme 'Natural Disasters'". The programme encompasses funding for 16 doctoral candidates over 3 years and 2 post-docs each maximum 2 years, who also do the co-ordination. It has enjoyed three funding periods over 3 years now being in the last one, to be concluded in September 2007. The convener of the session took part herself in the doctoral preparation programme within the Graduiertenkolleg 2000-2004. The whole interdisciplinary endeavour is hosted at the University of Karlsruhe, at some institutes from faculties of natural sciences, engineering and social sciences, and this is reflected in the research programme. Due to the paralelity of several earthquake focused endeavours at the same university, currently the focus of the GK is on flooding, as it seems to have been for the session this year. Most recent flyers of the GK, specially prepared for the session, were distributed. Stefan Senitz also presented the individual project further developed in frame of this research programme, a poster contribution co-authored by Hesse and Büchel and entitled "'Emergency-groundwater-supply' by maar volcanoes in a natural disaster case? – A field data and flow modelling based study from the Gees Maar (West Eifel volcanic field, Germany)". Further contributions on flooding were those by Deilmann, Pflügner and Naumann, on "Vulnerability calculation of residential areas" and by Marsico and Pennetta on "The last huge rainfall in the Murge area (Apulia, southern Italy): the reasons of announced disaster". Other hazards included soil degradation, as presented in an interdisciplinary paper from agrtechnology and textile engineering by Ioana Siminea, Magdalena Bostenaru and Horia Bolosina by the second author. The paper, entitled "Research related to the slope consolidation through the use of a biodegradable geotextile" was presenting results from an also intersectorial research in Romania. Geosynthetics are a high fashionable products nowadays (there is an association: International Geosynthetics Society), used in civil engineering (such composite materials are object of a Fédération Internationale du Béton commission and subsequent conferences), and found the way into practice while being further developed and investigated in applied research. Vegetation control was also the subject of a contribution by Nathalie Bétemps (co-author Comino, E.) on "Risk analysis of a shallow land sliding controlled by vegetation". And finally a very interesting paper, supported by a comprehensive take-with material on the Eötvös József Föiskola Baja (information on the higher education institution, its history, and the town of Baja, Hungary) was that by the group Tamas, Zellei, Sziebert, Szlavik, and Kalocsa, on "Determination of status, processes and targets in the planning of the nature protection aspect rehabilitation of the southern Hungarian Danube floodplains".

Other contributions submitted for the poster session were:

  • Kopf, A.; Bohnhoff, M.: Amphibic scientific drilling transect across the Hellenic subduction zone (HSZ)

  • Alberico, I.; Ramondini, M.; Zito, G.: Hydro-geological Instability Events hazard assessment in Napoli municipality

  • López-Moreno, J.I.; Vicente-Serrano, S.; Lanjeri, S.; García-Ruiz, J.M.; Cuadrat, J.M.: Mapping the potential development of snow pack for large areas using precipitation and temperature data

  • Cernesson, F.; Borderelle, A.L.; Barret, O.; Boutet, A.:
    Phylou : a first experiment of co-design model with local stakeholders of water management

  • Reichstein, M.; Fluxnet Data Integration Team: Spatio-temporal variability of land-atmosphere carbon and water fluxes: Coming to grips via integration of FLUXNET, earth observation data and biogeochemical modeling?

Some posters were cancelled like:

  • Hosseini, S.K.; Fatemi Aghda, S.M.; Matsushima, T.; Yoshioka, S.; Suzuki, S.: Interplate locking zone along the Nankai trough, southwest Japan, deduced from continuous GPS data

  • Abdel-Hafez, T.: Geophysical and geotechnical studies to stand behind the damage potential in 15th May city, Cairo, Egypt.

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