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Following the Japan quake

March 11, 2011

My morning began with a flash of alarm when I awoke and found myself hours behind the breaking news of the terrible Japan earthquake. My phone brimmed with automated alerts from the U.S. Geological Survey, the BBC and the Associated Press. My email was packed with news updates. Twitter was aflame with bulletins, tsunami warnings, death toll updates and links to dramatic videos.

After a little breakfast and my usual double barrel of coffee, I moved to my office and settled into the first of a few hours spent comprehending the catastrophe as it affects the entire Pacific Rim, looking for scientific explanations for the quake, refreshing myself on tsunami science and then focusing on the scale of devastation confronting the Japanese people.

Here are a few links that I found interesting:

News coverage: I’m following the main Associated Press story on the disaster. BBC News collected some amazing video from the moment the quake struck, along with footage of a whirlpool and of the waves ravaging the Fukushima prefecture. Their special report on the quake is also impressively comprehensive. Time magazine collected photo essays of the disaster. The Associated Press offers a interactive overview of the situation in the region. The Department of Defense reported its readiness to assist Japan. The Wall Street Journal analyzes how the quake will further disrupt the weak Japanese economy. Via APM’s Marketplace, the BBC examines how prepared or unprepared Japan was for an earthquake of this destructive power.

Blogs: For the London Review of Books, R.T. Ashcroft writes from Ichikawa City, “It was strangely peaceful outside: people were moving around purposefully but calmly. … Although there is still chaos in other, worse-hit parts of the country, life here seems to have returned to normal surprisingly quickly.” FEMA’s blog offers advice on how to use a cell phone as more than just a phone during a disaster, especially when phone service is interrupted.

Twitter: The hashtags #tsunami and #earthquake follow the crisis moment by moment, with updates from the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, countless news agencies, and from people in Japan, Hawaii and on the West Coast.

Science: The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog pulled together some useful educational links. I especially enjoyed the comparison of destructive effects from one magnitude to another. The BBC prepared a wave map charting the progression of the tsunami across the Pacifc region. This animation from the University of Alaska demonstrates how a tsunami is generated. Learn more about quakes from the experts at the National Earthquake Information Center.

Alerts: : Some of those alerts that awaited me this morning came from the U.S. Geological Survey, which is generally regarded in the U.S. as the leading authority on earthquake magnitude and location. Sign up for their alerts here. Wave alerts come from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

How to help: The Facebook page Global Disaster Relief offers links and email addresses for those trying to find and contact loved ones in Japan.

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From → DISASTER, NEWS, SCIENCE

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