Urban Earth: A Multi-hazards Demonstration Project in Southern California
More Americans are at risk from natural hazards now than at any other time in our Nation's history. In the United States each year, natural hazards cause hundreds of deaths and cost tens of billions of dollars in disaster aid, disruption of commerce and destruction of homes and critical infrastructure. Although we have reduced the number of lives lost to natural hazards each year, the economic cost of major disaster response and recovery continues to double or triple in constant dollars every decade. Southern California, in particular, has one of the Nation's highest potentials for extreme catastrophic losses due to natural hazards such as, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, landslides and floods. Estimates of expected losses from all these hazards in the 8 counties of southern California exceed $3 billion/yr. These numbers are expected to increase as the present 20 million population grows at more than 10%/yr.
These losses can only be reduced through actions of the southern California community itself. But to be effective, these actions must be guided by the best information about hazard, risk and cost-effectiveness of mitigation technologies. Long term sustainable solutions require broad perspectives that recognize the inter-connectedness of urban and natural resources.
The overarching objective of the project is to increase resiliency to natural hazards by incorporating the needs of the southern California decision-making community into natural hazards science in new and existing research activities. The natural hazards to be investigated in this project include earthquakes, floods, wildfires, landslides, coastal erosion and tsunamis. The USGS will work with collaborators in setting the direction of future research and to apply the results of scientific research to loss reduction. Partners include state, county, city, and public lands government agencies, public and private utilities, companies with a significant impact and presence in Southern California, academic researchers, FEMA, NOAA, and local emergency response agencies.
Project Chief: Lucile M. Jones, Pasadena