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How hazardous was spring in New Zealand?


How hazardous was spring in New Zealand?

When it comes to earthquakes, spring was much quieter in 2002 than it was in 2001. There were only 89 earthquakes of magnitude four and above in spring 2002, compared with 291 in the same period in 2001.

Earthquakes of magnitude five and above can cause significant damage to buildings and even injuries and deaths. In spring 2002 there were five such earthquakes, but they were either far offshore or deep underground and so resulted in little reported damage.

A summary of the natural hazards New Zealand faced in spring 2002 has just been published by the Natural Hazards Centre. In addition to earthquake and volcanic activity, the Centre’s newsletter included records of floods and droughts, extreme weather events, coastal hazards, and landslides. The hazards are recorded on maps of New Zealand to graphically illustrate where and when they occurred.

Other extreme events included the hailstorm that caused severe disruption by closing Wellington airport for several hours on 12 September, 11 metre swells off the coast of Canterbury on 19 November when Coastguard Canterbury had to rescue two yachts in Lyttelton Harbour, and the 7.3 degree frost in Hastings on 26 September that caused millions of dollars worth of damage to crops.

The Centre’s newsletter, Natural Hazards Update, publishes a quarterly review of such hazards in New Zealand with other news, information on upcoming events, and a focus on a particular hazard. The Centre, a joint initiative between the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS) and the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), was established to strengthen the links between scientists, policy makers, planners, and emergency managers.

The key role of the Centre is to communicate research results, and the aim is to ensure that hazards research helps communities improve their resilience to natural hazards and better manage the risks they might face by making informed decisions.

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