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This is a tentative course outline for reference only. Please check with the course teacher for updates.

UGEB 2222B The Chinese University of Hong Kong

NATURAL HAZARDS Department of Geography and
Resource Management (FYB)
Second Term, 2015-16

Lecturer: Prof Chen Yongqin (Coordinator, CKB225, 3943-6539, ydavidchen@cuhk.edu.hk)

Prof Ng Sai-leung (FYB208, 3943-6527, slng@cuhk.edu.hk)

Tutor: Ms. WANG Zhenzhen, Jane (Sino251, 3943-1385, zhenzhen_jane@link.cuhk.edu.hk)

Ms. YANG Minxing (Sino251, 3943-1385, minxingyang@link.cuhk.edu.hk)

Lecture Time and Location: Friday 8:30-11:15am, YIA LT7


Course Description

This course examines the physical and human dimensions of natural hazards such as earthquakes,
tsunamis, typhoons, floods and landslides, droughts and famines. The focus is on the causes of major
natural hazards, their geographical distribution, risk and disaster to human society, and human response
to prepare, prevent and mitigate negative impacts. Study of the interaction between society and natural
hazards will help students better understand the man-environment relationship. An issue-based
approach from a topical perspective is adopted to address a wide variety of geological, meteorological,
and hydrological hazards. The importance of geographical regions in understanding natural hazards and
their socio-economic impacts is highlighted throughout the course. While the coverage will be broad
and global, case studies of threats, occurrence and consequences of natural hazards in Hong Kong and
Mainland China is emphasized.

Course Objectives

What are the major natural hazards and why do they occur around the world? What places are most
vulnerable to each kind of hazard? What are the disasters caused by a hazard and how do people
respond? Students will find enormous interests in seeking answers for questions like these. Therefore,
through a variety of teaching and learning activities, this course will help students understand major
types of natural hazards from a regional perspective, in terms of their causes, location and distribution,
human responses to prepare, prevent and mitigate impacts.

Expected Learning Outcomes

Students are expected to develop a general understanding of the causes and consequences of extreme
natural events and thus to appreciate the impacts on the lives and properties of people around the world.
The course will discuss natural hazards from dual perspectives of physical and human geography.
Therefore, students will not only gain basic knowledge of geophysical concepts and rules of natural
hazards, but also learn how environmental risk arises from the complex interaction between the
physical environment and human society. As concerned world citizens, students will need to be
equipped with these capabilities and knowledge in order to better understand the challenges and
potential calamities posed by natural hazards.

This is a tentative course outline for reference only. Please check with the course teacher for updates.

Teaching and Learning Activities

Activity Objective
Lecture (1-3 units every week) Equip students with basic knowledge of natural hazards
Forum and discussion Involve students in information sharing and open discussion of
(9 sessions) certain multiple hazards affecting a selected geographical region
around the world
Video watching (5 sessions) Watch educational and documentary video (short episodes) to learn
about earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, hurricanes and
tornados, and floods.

Student Assessment

(1) Exam --- 50%, two 45-minute exams (25% each, True or False/MC/short essay) will be conducted.

(2) Forum discussion --- 30% (group presentation 12% and individual participation 18% = 92%),
students will first be divided into two large groups (Group A in YIA LT7 and Group B in a LT
nearby, TBD) and each will be further divided into 9 small groups of 4-5 students each. Each small
group will conduct a forum on a topic of your choice. Your group will select a geographical region
around the world which is affected by more than one type of natural hazard. Group members will
work together to prepare a 45-minute forum in the format of presentation or expert panel, which
should include a Q&A and discussion session of at least 5 minutes. Each forum should first
introduce the geographical setting and characteristics of the selected region and then use major
historical events to discuss the types of natural hazards and their causes, and how people respond to
the disasters.

Each group is required to prepare four questions in a format of Multiple-choice or True/False or

fill-in-blank to test the effective participation of other students in the audience. Each individual
student in the group will be given a score (up to a full mark of 12 pts) based not only on the overall
group performance, but also on his or her contribution to the group project as rated by all other
group members through a Peer Assessment. All other students in the audience will join the
discussion and take a quiz to answer the four questions. Without a justifiable reason, students
who are 15 minutes late or leave the forum early will NOT receive any mark for the quiz.

Grouping and selected topics will be finalized by the fourth week for announcement in Blackboard
on 5 February. One week before your forum, each group is required to submit your Powerpoint file
and the four questions to the tutor for distribution to the class.

Each group presentation will be assessed and given a score (out of 12) based on the following
marking criteria:

Appropriate selection of the region, description of the regions geographical setting and
characteristics 2 pts
Identification of major natural hazards, explanation of the causes, processes and significances
of natural hazards 3 pts
Analysis and discussion of impacts and human responses to natural hazards using historical
events 3 pts
Organization, structure, and clarity of group presentation 4 pts

(3) Video watching --- 10%, participation and answering True/False and MC questions in each of the
5 sessions (2% each).

This is a tentative course outline for reference only. Please check with the course teacher for updates.

(4) Essay --- 10%, Each student is required to review and follow the international mass media
coverage of major natural hazards since 1 January 2013. Information and data of one selected
major event of media headlines around the world will be compiled to write a feature story or journal
of no more than 1,500 Chinese characters or 2,000 English words.

Your essay should basically address the location and time, causes and processes, socio-economic
impacts (local, regional and international) of the disastrous events, as well as the mitigation
methods and lessons learned. The marking scheme is: appropriate selection of events and
description of affected areas 10%, major records of the events and their causes processes and
significances 30%, analysis of impacts 30%, organization, structure and text 30%. The due
date is Friday, 22 April (the last class). Late submission will be penalized by reducing 10% of the
mark of your essay for every one day of delay.

Class Schedule

Week Date Activity Topic Instructor

1 Jan 15 Lecture Introduction: Is the world becoming more and more Chen/Ng
2 Jan 22 Lecture Atmosphere and hazardous weather systems Chen
3 Jan 29 Lecture Meteorological hazards: typhoons Chen
Video 1 Hurricane and Tornado TA
Lecture Meteorological hazards: tornadoes Chen
4 Feb 5 Hydrological hazards: floods
Video 2 Floods TA
5 Feb 12 Happy Chinese New Year!!
6 Feb 19 Lecture Hydrological hazards: droughts Chen
7 Feb 26 Lecture Dynamic Earth Ng
Exam Exam 1 (10:30-11:15am) Chen/TA
8 Mar 4 Lecture Geological hazards: earthquakes Ng
Video 3 Earthquakes TA
9 Forum 1 A1: B1: Chen/Ng
Mar 11 Forum 2 A2: B2: Chen/Ng
Forum 3 A3: B3: Chen/Ng
10 Mar 18 Lecture Geological hazards: volcanoes Ng
Video 4 Volcanoes TA
11 Mar 25 Happy Easter holidays!!
Forum 4 A4: B4: Chen/Ng
12 Apr 1 Forum 5 A5: B5: Chen/Ng
Forum 6 A6: B6: Chen/Ng
13 Apr 8 Lecture Geological hazards: tsunamis Ng
Video 5 Tsunamis TA
Forum 7 A7: B7: Chen/Ng
14 Apr 15 Forum 8 A8: B8: Chen/Ng
Forum 9 A9: B9: Chen/Ng
15 Apr 22 Lecture Geological hazards: landslides Ng
Exam Exam 2 (10:30-11:15am) Ng/TA

References (* required, # recommended)

The reading assignments include: (1) chapters or sections from an e-book Natural Hazards (2nd ed.)
by Bryant, E. (2005), Cambridge University Press (available at

This is a tentative course outline for reference only. Please check with the course teacher for updates.

http://www.dgt.uns.ac.rs/download/pririzici_knjiga.pdf), (2) light, casual and interesting articles

selected from a variety of popular magazines, as well as scientific papers from academic journals
(available at Blackboard). Students are required or recommended to read the following references. The
recommended readings will help you learn the concepts, principles, and theories of the subject more

Introduction (Chen/Ng)
*Chapter 1 Introduction to Natural Hazards. In: Byrant (2005), p. 1-9.

*Abramovitz, J.N., Are humans to blame for exacerbating many natural hazards? In: USA Today
Magazine, Jul. 2002, Vol. 131, Iss. 2686, p. 37-39.

*Jarraud, M., Preventing and mitigating natural hazards. Message for World Meteorological Day 2006.

#Pearce, L., 2003. Disaster management and community planning, and public participation: How to
achieve sustainable hazard mitigation. Natural Hazards, 28, 211-228.

#White, G.F., R.W. Kates, and I. Burton, 2001. Knowing better and losing even more: the use of
knowledge in hazards management. Environmental Hazards, 3, 81-92.

Hazardous weather systems and typhoon (Chen)

*Chapter 3 Large-scale Storms as a Hazard, In: Byrant (2005), p. 44-58.

*Spencer, R.W., Tropical twisters: hurricanes. In: The Saturday Evening Post, Sept./Oct. 2005, p.

#Chapter 2 Mechanisms of Climate Variability, In: Byrant (2005), p. 17-43.

#Weathermen get to grips with typhoons. In: New Scientist, 01/28/1995, Vol. 145, Iss. 1962, p. 18.

#The 2004 Hurricane Season: Global Warming in Action? In: Global Environmental Change Report,
Nov. 2004, Vol. XVII, No. 11, p. 1-3.

Tornado (Chen)
*Chapter 4 Localized Storms, In: Byrant (2005), p. 93-102.

*Natures weapon. In: Scholastic Scope, October 13/20, 2003, p. 16-17.

#Vasquez, T., Tornado! An evening with the Fort Worth, Texas, National Weather Service. In:
Weatherwise, Nov/Dec 2003, p. 33-38.

Floods (Chen)
*Chapter 6 Flooding as a Hazard, In: Byrant (2005), p. 120-137.

*Is China Ready for Another Devastating Flood? In: Beijing Review, 07/19/1999, Vol. 42 Issue 29, p.

#The river wild. In: Discover, Jan 1999, p. 64-65.

#Flooding problem in Hong Kong. DSD, HKSAR Government.

Droughts (Chen)
*Chapter 5 Drought as a Hazard, In: Byrant (2005), p. 103-119.

*A land turned to dust. In: New Scientist, 4-10 June 2005, Vol. 186, Iss. 2502, p. 38-41.

This is a tentative course outline for reference only. Please check with the course teacher for updates.

#Thirsty city. In: Beijing Review, 02/19/2004, Vol. 47, Iss. 7, p. 28-29.

Dynamic earth and earthquakes (Ng)

*Chapter 9-12 Geological Hazards, In: Byrant (2005), p. 179-269. (These chapters cover all the four
types of geological hazards)

*Altenburger, E. Earthquake hazards in Taiwan the September 1999 Chichi earthquake. In: Focus on
Geography, Winter 2004.

#Valery, N. Shaky ground. In: The Economist, Apr 22, 1995. Vol. 335, Iss. 7911.

Volcanoes (Ng)
*Perkins, S. When mountains fizz What makes some volcanic eruptions so explosive? In: Science
News, Jan. 29, 2005, Vol. 167, Iss. 5, p. 74-76.

#The environmental catastrophe that changed history. In: Earth Island Journal, Summer 2000, p. 29.

Tsunamis (Ng)
*Shiva, V. The lessons of the Tsunami. In: The Ecologist, March 2005, p. 21-24.

#. , June 2006.

Landslides (Ng)
*Hong Kong slope safety problems. Y.S.A. Yeung, Geotechnical Engineering Office, HKSAR
Government, 2006.

*Ng, S.L., 2010. "Natural hazards" In: Jim, C.Y., Li, S.M. & Fung, T., A New Geography of Hong
Kong. Hong Kong: Cosmos, pp. 171-201.

#After the deluge - A disaster made by man as well as the monsoon. In: Economist, 8/6/2005, Vol. 376,
Iss. 8438.


Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the
disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details
may be found at http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/policy/academichonesty/.

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware
of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures. In the case of group projects, all students of
the same group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible should there be
any plagiarized contents in the group project, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the
declaration and whether he/she has contributed directly or indirectly to the plagiarized contents.
For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and
submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon
students' uploading of the soft copy of the assignment. Assignments without the properly signed
declaration will not be graded by teachers. Only the final version of the assignment should be
submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to
satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded
as having committed undeclared multiple submission. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of
phrase or a sentence or two from ones own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case,
agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the
piece of work.