United Nations International Workshop on
Forecasting of Natural Disasters by Geomagnetic Methods
 Beijing, China
12-18 February, 1998


Natural disasters such as earthquakes and heavy rainstorms are difficult to forecast. At present there are no global networks to monitor for precursors to such disasters. Recent statistics show that natural disasters are on the rise. The United Nations is concerned with facilitating efforts to mitigate the impact of these natural disasters.

Recent international feedback to the United Nations in New York and in Beijing has brought attention to methods for the forecasting of natural disasters as developed by Chinese scientists. The United Nations actively encourages the sharing of disaster mitigation technologies. To this end, the United Nations Global Programme in the Department for Economic and Social Affairs in New York and the UN Development Programme in Beijing, China, have joined together to hold an international workshop on the forecasting of natural disasters using geomagnetic methods. This UN geomagnetic workshop will be held in Beijing, China, from 12-18 February 1998 and will be hosted jointly by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the State Seismological Bureau.

Topics to be covered by the UN geomagnetic workshop are:

(1) Principles of forecasting natural disasters using geomagnetic methods;

(2) Three geomagnetic methods for the forecasting of earthquake and meteorological disasters: the Transfer Function Method, the Spatial Correlation and Weighted Difference Method, the Load-Unload Response Ratio Method;

(3) Evaluation for Short-Term and Annual Prediction of Earthquakes (ESTAPE) - An approach developed by the UN Global Programme to encourage public administrators, scientists and the public at large to assess the effectiveness of earthquake forecasts (http://www.globalwatch.org/~globalw/ungp/).

Participant Selection

Applicants for the UN workshop will be chosen based mainly on these criteria.

1) Fluency in English or Chinese.

2) Experience and knowledge in geomagnetism - Actual field and observatory experience over a number of years is important, as well as familiarity with the analysis of geomagnetic data.

3) Commitment to experiment with the forecasting of earthquake and meteorological disasters using the technology presented in the workshop.

4) Basic familiarity with the use of computers.

5) Educational background: technical college, university, or higher.

6) Computer needs: To achieve maximum benefit from this UN geomagnetic workshop, participants should have at their home base access to IBM - PC 486 or higher and, if necessary, a digitizer to analyse analog (non-digital) geomagnetographs.

Priority will be given to those applicants who will be able to analyze, using the techniques of the geomagnetic workshop, their local data as recorded by their national geomagnetic observatory.

Bring Your Own Data!

Workshop participants are encouraged to bring data from their local observatory. Analysing these data with the techniques presented at the workshop will enable attendees to see almost immediately whether the technology they are acquiring can be applied to their region of the world to monitor for disasters. Suggestions as to what data to bring follow.

(A) Details of nearby earthquakes and meteorological disasters
For earthquakes, determine what events of magnitude (MS) greater than 5 have occurred within the following distances from your observatory:
    MS = 5.0, 150 km
    MS = 6.0, 250 km
    MS = 7.0, 500 km

Bring the time (date), magnitude and location (latitude and longitude) of these earthquakes to the workshop.
(Note: MS = 1.13 x ML - 1.08 and MS = 1.59 mb - 4.)

For meteorological disasters of rare occurrence, the distance from your observatory can be 500 km to 1000 km. Note the type of disaster and the dates during which the disaster occurred.

(B) Specific geomagnetic data
Bring the following geomagnetic data to the workshop on computer diskette(s):

(1) Minute values for D,H and Z of the geomagnetic field in nT (nanotesla) units, for the time period of 2 years before and 6 months after the disaster.

(2) Daily range (in nT) for the Z component of the geomagnetic field, for the time period of 2 years before and 1 year after the disaster (i.e., a total of three years of daily data).

Closing Comments

This workshop will involve intensive training. Sessions will run from morning until evening for a full six days. The goal of the workshop is bold: to establish in a matter of months whether geomagnetic precursors to earthquakes exist and whether a global observation network for monitoring such precursors is viable.

For more information regarding the Workshop, financial support, and other Global Programme matters, please contact:

Ms. Gay Rosenblum-Kumar
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
New York, NY 10017
tel +1-212-963-8381
fax +1-212-963-2916

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