Probability and Uncertainty in Risk Estimation and Communication

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences

Abstract

Our overall aim is to build earthquake resilience in China by improving (a) the assessment of seismic hazard and risk from earthquakes and consequent events and (b) the communication and use of probabilistic information in the development of more proportionate and risk-based strategies for disaster risk reduction. We will build on and extend a recently-developed historical catalogue for earthquakes, extend it for the first time to include consequent events (landslides, debris/mud-flows, outburst floods), unify this new database with modern instrumental data, use state-of the art statistical techniques to quantify the associated uncertainties, and incorporate social science-based understanding of risk communication and governance to improve policy development and implementation. The work programme will be carried out in Si-chuan (including the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake) and Yun-nan provinces. While they are both tectonically active, and mountainous, and thus vulnerable not only to earthquakes but also to consequent hazards of earthquake-triggered landslides and flooding, Si-chuan is one of the wealthiest provinces in China, while Yun-nan is one of poorest. These differences in wealth, combined with the recency of the devastating 2008 Wenchuan in Si-chuan compared to the more attenuated memory of the 1996 Lijiang earthquake in Yun-nan, make for a natural experiment in which to test the efficacy of improved probabilistic assessment of risk and associated uncertainty to people and property by earthquakes, and consequent event hazards, in supporting more risk-based approaches to disaster reduction.

This project will promote long-term sustainable growth in earthquake prone regions of China by improving both the assessment of earthquake hazard and consequent event risk and the communication, understanding, and use of the resulting probabilistic forecasts for disaster risk reduction by policymakers and local publics. It addresses several specific capacity gaps identified in successive Chinese national disaster risk reduction strategies. As well as engaging with policymakers at both the national and local levels to improve the effectiveness of emergency planning and building code regulation, we will also engage directly with local publics to enhance public understanding of risk and capacity to deal with it. In so doing, the project will also fulfil the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment to promoting "the economic development and welfare of developing countries" by drawing on UK's science base to address a key vulnerability differentially affecting the very poorest in China.

Planned Impact

This project will promote long-term sustainable growth in earthquake prone regions of China by improving both the assessment of earthquake hazard and consequent event risk and the communication, understanding, and use of the resulting probabilistic forecasts for disaster risk reduction by policymakers and local publics. In so doing, it will contribute to the wider aims of the IRNHiC programme and of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment to poverty alleviation and sustainable development by addressing a key vulnerability differentially affecting the very poorest in China.

Engagement with the Chinese Earthquake Administration (CEA) and with provincial earthquake agencies will ensure that technical improvements in forecasting capacity are quickly translated into operational use in China.

Institutional barriers to using probabilistic information for emergency planning will be addressed through engagement with the China National Committee for Disaster Reduction, while improved building code regulation will be delivered through engagement with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD). The capacity of local policymakers to understand and use probabilistic forecasts will also be addressed through targeted engagement in our two case study sites.

The project will also improve public understanding of and resilience to earthquake hazard and consequent event risks in China by:

*providing evidence-based recommendations about how agencies might share more complex earthquake forecast information in ways that are understandable by local publics

*engaging with the Working Group for National Hazard Maps (WG4NHM) of China to ensure that lessons from earthquake hazard mapping are applied to the communication of risk about other natural hazards in China

*engaging directly with local publics through school in our case study provinces to enhance public understanding and thus preparedness and resilience

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have identified long-lived aftershock sequences or persistent zones of weakness around Beijing, China, by comparing modern earthquake data with the location of large historical earthquakes. We have also completed a reanalysis of past historical earthquakes in China using the elliptical contouring method for intensity data developed in the PURE programme. This has proven successful in quantifying uncertainties in felt area at a given level of intensity.

in 2019 we developed and tested software to estimate uncertainties in siesmic moment, including co-variances for depth determination.
Exploitation Route Input into development of strategies to build resilience to earthquakes and consequent events in China.
Sectors Construction,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description Advisory board member to the SIGMA2 project on Earthquake Hazard estimation for critical infrastructure
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Member of the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation Expert Panel on Seismic Hazard
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description NERC Newton fund Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards in China
Amount £500,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/N012267/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2019
 
Title Automated estimation of felt area and centroid epicentre for historical earthquakes 
Description Software 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Re-evaluation of the magnitudes of past historical earthquakes in China. Ultimately this will impact on probabilistic seismic hazard maps in China, and help build resilience to future earthquakes. 
 
Title Catalogue of felt area and centroid location for historical eartqhuakes in China 
Description As in title 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact No impact as yet. In time will feed into improved probabilistic seismic hazard maps to improve resilience to future earthqaukes in China. 
 
Description China Earthquake Authority (CEA) 
Organisation China Earthquake Administration
Country China 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaborating partner on the NERC/Newton find grant 'Probability and Uncertainty in Risk Estimation and Communication'
Collaborator Contribution CEA are the main collaborating partner, based in Beijing. They have provided data, and run a complementary research programme to the UK effort, as well as contributing to specific collaborations in earthquake data analysis and in social science based questionnaires in hazard mitigation practice.
Impact The project is multi-disciplinary, funded by NERC and EPSRC to include physical/mathematical sciences (statistical seismology) and social sciences (human geography) elements. There is one publication so far: Wang, J., I.G. Main & R.M.W. Musson (2017). Earthquake clustering in modern seismicity and its relationship with strong historical earthquakes around Beijing, China, Geophys. J. Int. 211, 1027-1040, https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggx326
Start Year 2016
 
Description Invited presentation on Earthquake forecasting to the Chinese Earthquake Authority in Beijing. This is the main organisation charged with assessing seismic hazard in China. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation on Earthquake forecasting to the Chinese Earthquake Authority in Beijing to an audience of around 30. This is the main organisation charged with assessing seismic hazard in China. This generated a debate on the uncertainties in time-independent and time-dependent seismic hazard maps.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019