New ways of measuring catastrophic risks may enhance Air Force efforts

Mar 31, 2010
Noted AFOSR-funded researcher, Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky is pioneering a new approach for measuring, anticipating and managing catastrophic risks, sometimes called "Black Swans" or natural catastrophes like hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods that may possibly enhance the US Air Force's capabilities of preparing for disasters. (Photo Credit: NASA)

Noted Air Force Office of Scientific Research-funded researcher, Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky is pioneering a new approach for measuring, anticipating and managing catastrophic risks, sometimes called "Black Swans" or natural catastrophes like hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods that may possibly enhance the Air Force's capabilities of preparing for disasters.

"This research is important because it will provide solid foundations to help the Air Force and the public better prepare for the impact of catastrophic risks, communicate to experts and make decisions that can enhance national security," said Chichilnisky from her office at the Columbia University Consortium on Risk Management where the research is occurring.

Her team has developed new tools in probability and statistics for ranking risks, giving realistic prioritization to catastrophic events, making decisions under unpredictable conditions preceding an event and evaluating the economic after-effects of a disaster. They have also been conducting research, experiments validating theories and finding that decisions made under uncertainty do not always match up with classic treatment of Black Swans. Using their current findings as well as historical research, the team is rewriting the foundations of probability, statistics and decision-making for Black Swan events that better fit the observations.

"Our goal is to link our latest results, analytical tools and experimental efforts with other new theoretical and empirical strands of the literature in this area," she said.

The emerging statistics and probabilities will provide a new foundation, changing the field of research in a way that is more appropriate for Black Swans, which are now occurring with more regularity because of climate, migration and coastal changes.

"We need to organize and protect ourselves against natural hazards in a way that increases our capabilities to anticipate, mitigate and respond to catastrophes as was never done before," she said.

Explore further: Massive debris pile reveals risk of huge tsunamis in Hawaii

Provided by Air Force Office of Scientific Research

2.8 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mapping the Risks of Hurricane Disasters

Sep 26, 2005

The Natural Disaster Hotspots report released earlier this year showed that the U.S. Gulf Coast is among the world's most at-risk regions in terms of human mortality and economic loss due to storms like Katrina ...

Not sure? Don't sweat it: Embrace Uncertainty

May 07, 2008

Governments and other large organisations should put more resources into ways of dealing with the unknown, according to experts pioneering a new approach to understanding and managing uncertainty.

Safer skies for the flying public

Sep 03, 2008

University of Texas professor Constantine Caramanis and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on a air traffic decision-making system that rapidly adapts its flight recommendations ...

How to limit risk of climate catastrophe

Oct 02, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new analysis of climate risk, published by researchers at MIT and elsewhere, shows that even moderate carbon-reduction policies now can substantially lower the risk of future climate change. ...

Recommended for you

NASA image: Fires in the Egypt River Delta

4 hours ago

This NASA satellite image is of the Egyptian River Delta. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red. Each hot spot, which appears as a red mark, is an area where the thermal ...

Terra Satellite sees Tropical Storm Ana over Hawaii

4 hours ago

Tropical Storm Ana made a slow track west of the Hawaiian islands over the last couple of days, and by Oct. 20 was moving westward away from the main Hawaiian islands and heading toward the northwest Hawaiian ...

User comments : 0