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Natural disasters and early warning

Eugen Seibold
Richard Wagnerstr. 56, 791104 Freiburg, Germany.
Tel. : +49-761-553368, Fax: +49-761-203-6483

Abstract:
Scientists involved in early warning are being confronted with an increasingly critical public attitude. In former centuries natural disasters were seen as Godís punishment or as inescapable fate. Today, scientists are blamed if warnings are not sufficiently exact.

The overall situation is worsening because global population growth entails an increase of losses and damage caused by natural disasters, especially in developing countries.

As long as we do not understand many basic principles better, exact warning remains a difficult task. Therefore it is particularly important that provision should be encouraged, ranging from risk maps to public education.

The paper examines the state of the art of short term predictions in several fields, and concludes with a discussion of requirements for the foundation of an International Disaster Research Laboratory.