Japan Tsunami 2011: More Global Weirding?


Photo source (MSNBC).

With the terrible news of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan this morning, my thoughts are with the victims and their families. Is this more evidence of “Global Weirding?

TOKYO — A magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan’s northeastern coast Friday, unleashing a 13-foot tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland and prompting a “nuclear emergency.”

At least 40 people were killed and there were reports of several injuries in Tokyo, hundreds of miles away, where buildings shook violently through the main quake and the series of massive aftershocks that followed.

Consider this article, from NOAA scientists, “Do the 2010 Haiti and Chile earthquakes and tsunamis indicate increasing trends?”

Recent analysis of historical data shows that four of the top ten most deadly earthquakes and tsunamis since 1701 occurred in the last decade, including the 2004 Indian Ocean (Sumatra) and 2010 Haiti events. The magnitude 8.8 2010 Chile earthquake was the fifth largest earthquake ever recorded. These events generate questions about the frequency and severity of geologic natural hazards worldwide. The National Geophysical Data Center and co-located World Data Center for Geophysics and Marine Geology maintain a global historical event database of tsunamis, significant earthquakes, and significant volcanic eruptions (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazards/). Analysis of the database revealed that while the total number of magnitude 7.5 earthquakes per decade since 1901 has remained consistent, the last decade has experienced some of the most devastating geologic events in history. Until 2010, the most deadly event in the Caribbean was the 1902 eruption of Pelee that caused 28 000 deaths. While devastating, this event is dwarfed by the 230 000 deaths that resulted from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The 2010 Chile earthquake is among the top ten most deadly earthquakes and tsunamis in the entire history of Chile. While the database does not provide answers as to why these recent events are so deadly, the analysis reinforces the need for increasing our understanding of earthquakes and tsunamis in all regions of the world. As the global population continues to increase, placing more people at risk, it is important to dedicate resources to mitigate against the effects of such natural hazards.


Figure 14. Count of all tsunamis for 10-year periods from 1701 to the present. (Source: National Geophysical Data Center/World Data Center.)


Figure 15. Total number of deaths from tsunamis for 10-year periods from 1701 to the present. (Source: National Geophysical Data Center/World Data Center.)

What do you think?


  1. #1 JM
    March 11, 2011

    What is this “global weirding” phenomenon you speak of? Sorry, but it smacks a bit of random associative supersticious thought…

    Regarding the apparent increase in tsunamis I think this, also from the study (italics mine):

    There is an increase from 10-20 tsunamis every 10 years in the 1700s, to 20-30 tsunamis every 10 years in the 1800s, and to 30-40 in the 1900s. This is probably due to the increase in observations and awareness of tsunamis. For example, today if an earthquake or some other tsunami source generates a wave of a few centimetres that is only observed in the deep ocean at a DART® station, it is considered a tsunami and is added to the database. Earlier it was impossible but now with the deployment of DART®s such information is available.

    and this:

    Examination of the NGDC/WDC significant earthquake database revealed that the total number of magnitude ≥7.5 earthquakes per decade since 1901 has remained consistent. Major earthquakes do not appear to be increasing in frequency. Answering this same question for tsunami events is more difficult, due to the lack of a sufficiently long definitive record. The database does indicate an increase in the number of events, but this is almost certainly due to improved reporting and recording rather than an actual increase in tsunamis.Further analysis of the total number of deaths from earthquakes and tsunamis per decade showed that major events throughout history show no particular trend. But there are a few extreme events. From 1701 through 2000 there were 10 extremely deadly earthquakes resulting in 77 000 to 230 000 deaths. During this same time, seven deadly tsunamis each caused from 13 000 to 60 000 deaths. However, the last decade has certainly experienced some of the most devastating geologic events in history, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that caused over 220 000 deaths and the 2010 Haiti earthquake that caused approximately 230 000 deaths. In fact, four of the top ten most deadly earthquakes since 1701 occurred in the last decade. Since the number of magnitude ≥7.5 earthquakes has not increased, this is most likely due to increased population along with poorly constructed buildings.

  2. #2 mad the swine
    March 11, 2011

    ‘Global weirding’ is a phrase invented by Thomas Friedman, in the NYT, to describe the effects of ‘anthropogenic climate change’.

    1) Avoid the term “global warming.” I prefer the term “global weirding,” because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes. The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier and the most violent storms more numerous.

    As if earthquakes are caused by CO2. Do you also think that gay people caused 9/11 and Katrina?

  3. #3 Luna_the_cat
    March 11, 2011

    1. Could it be that tsunamis are simply more noticed as such, now?

    2. Could it be that earthquakes and tsunamis are more deadly simply because of the size and nature of cities, and increased population densities? (especially on the coasts!)

    3. Could the damage from earthquakes be affected by hydrological issues such as the extraction of groundwater under many cities (leading to the recorded problem of shrinking aquifers and subsidence in areas) exacerbating any fault instabilities, or rendering cities more vulnerable to ground collapse in a quake?

    I have other thoughts, but these were some of the first.

  4. #4 John
    March 11, 2011


  5. #5 Omega Centauri
    March 11, 2011

    Really now. Do you think our tsunami reported systems might have improved? Numbers of deaths are dominated by a single event, so they also don’t tell us much.

    I doubt globally averaged earthquakes/volcanoes are showing measureable effects from global warming. There probably are local effects caused by rapid deglaciation changing stress patterns, but this effect should be confined to a few localized areas (Iceland being the quintessentail example).

  6. #6 JOHN
    March 11, 2011


  7. Very informative and factual write up, much appreictaed, especially so quickly after the event. Just to provide a contrast DCP provides another perspective on the matter,entiely artistic as opposed to scientific,click through to link and enjoy…


  8. #8 Jess
    March 11, 2011

    John stop being so immature! We are not going to die you dimwit!! Simple evacuation and Earthquake warning will save a few more. The earth is just a planet remember it doesn’t care if anything on it survives. Earth was created for a reason! And that reason was not to hold humans. Humans are just monkeys that have evolved were not here on purpose! Its no ones fault they occur naturally! So i guess we will have to deal with these horrible catastrophes.

  9. #9 Jess
    March 11, 2011

    John stop being so immature! We are not going to die you dimwit!! Simple evacuation and Earthquake warning will save a few more. The earth is just a planet remember it doesn’t care if anything on it survives. Earth was created for a reason! And that reason was not to hold humans. Humans are just monkeys that have evolved were not here on purpose! Its no ones fault they occur naturally! So i guess we will have to deal with these horrible catastrophes.

  10. #10 Salman Mansoor
    March 11, 2011

    Nature is great human beings are nothing before the greatness of nature – let us be a good friend to nature – let us not violate nature’s laws – let us keep clean our environment. More trres more greeneries will make the nature a good friend of us.

    A clean and pure mind inside the man and a green and lure earth will make sure a friendly nature .Sin is a human construct to impose “moral” law on sheeple while allowing the elites to manipulate & exploit the ignorant / self-righteous.

    Watch tsunami hit Japan Watch eyewitness footage http://tsunami2011videos.blogspot.com/


    Salman Mansoor Pakistan

  11. #11 Drea
    March 11, 2011

    Very good informative blog. I only pray that God spares us his wrath. We live in some very weird times.

    Montgomery triangle is awesome!

  12. #12 maya
    March 11, 2011

    may GOD BLESS JAPAN and help them to overcome such horror.

  13. #13 L PIMENTA
    March 11, 2011

    ‘For nation will rise against nation (Libya, Egypt etc) …and
    earthquakes in various places (Haiti, New Zealand, Japan) All these are the beginnings of sorrows’ (Matthew 24:7-8)

  14. #14 tina
    March 11, 2011

    stop being immature people you know this is all our fault for not believing in god and being so selfish ! i hope that god helps japan !

  15. #15 ken
    March 11, 2011

    Has anyone else noticed that the number of Tsunami events counted and the number of tsunami related deaths, also seem to co-relate with the INCREASE in population as well as area of land populated?
    How many tsunamis were not recorded in places that were not populated in the 1700’s?
    How many records going back to 1700’s have been lost?
    How many potential deaths would there be in the 1700’s had Japan been populated like they are today? Another case of lies, lies and statistics?

  16. #16 louie
    March 11, 2011

    global weirding…it s d summation from which humans hunger of satisfaction s d denominator of all things happen n this world.human s d main reason!a simple creation of GOD being modified by men into a false image…

  17. #17 louie
    March 11, 2011

    global weirding…it s d summation from which humans hunger of satisfaction s d denominator of all things happen n this world.human s d main reason!a simple creation of GOD being modified by men into a false image…please do acknOwledge n loving our nature.

  18. #18 Brent Walker
    March 11, 2011

    It is neither global weirding or global warming but part of nature’s cycle. However you have to look at nature through nature’s framework to understand what is happening.
    I am an actuary, former president of the International Association of Consulting Actuaries and am concerned for the reputation for my profession as we get heavily involved in predicting nature’s risks. I have an article on gravity in the current UK Actuary magazine.http://www.the-actuary.org.uk/875376 and a followup article ready for
    a future edition. The first article will also be published in Australia this month and the second probably next month.
    I have looked at data for major volcanic eruptions (in terms of Km3 of mass ejected) and major earthquakes (8 or more Richter scale) and found strong correlation between minimal sunspot activity, particularly major solar minimums and grand minimums and the incidence rate. I have also read a number of well credentialled scientific reports on the physics behind this linkage. (Including a fascinating Japanese paper written by geo-physicists and atomic physicists).
    Currently the sun is in an extreme solar minimum (as NASA puts it) or a solar grand minimum (as solar physicists call it). So it is unsurprising that these events are occurring.
    The weird weather is that typical of a solar grand minimum. The last one occurred between about 1785 and 1830. American history records how even the Hudson river froze over on more than one occasion during that period. Once in the dreadful northern winter of 1814/15 taverns were erected on the river to provide warmth and refreshments to pedestrians between Staten Island and Manhatten.
    Incidentally I also downloaded all ENSO data from NOAA and superimposed that on solar cycle sunspot data. Very interesting patterns were revealed. It seems the world will be seeing a lot more weird weather and major earthquake and volcanic activity for a few decades yet.

  19. #19 Jeff
    March 11, 2011

    Thank you for your very important perspective, Dr. Walker. You raise some very important points which I would like to address in articles coming soon, as accurate reporting to the public is of paramount importance. In the meantime, let us give our thoughts to the victims and families of this natural disaster.

    Please contact me via email if you would like to co-author any of these articles.

  20. #20 socle
    March 11, 2011

    Caution, Mr Walker seems to be a bit of a crank:


    Everything bad seems to be caused by periods of low sunspot activity.

  21. #21 socle
    March 11, 2011

    Oops, climatespectator doesn’t allow you to read the articles without registering. You can access the article with a little clever googling, however.

  22. #22 sebastian
    March 11, 2011

    just wanna know , is there a way to minimalize the destruction effect of Tsunami? is there a way to detect that there will be an earthquake or Tsunami? i’m scare , seriously!

  23. #23 parenting website
    March 12, 2011

    Its really very sad and heart breaking news yesterday for me.Cant digest how much feet it went high and i can pray for those who are really in trouble as well as pray for the ones who are dead.. A great console to those families.We mothers forum really feel sad for japan families..

  24. #24 bharathi
    March 12, 2011


  25. #25 saahid
    March 12, 2011

    we have to take care of our environment.

  26. #26 vishal
    March 12, 2011

    God help those people who are diseased due to Japan Tsunami 2011.

  27. #27 Bidgar shivaji tulshiram
    March 12, 2011

    Tsunami is the major reason of death toll, as people are drowned by it. the collapse of building is not seen. how to save lives of people during Tsunami is challenge ahead the mankind and it possible to save the life with proper life jackets.
    thank you.
    Bidgar S T
    Civil Engineer and Earthquake student.

  28. #28 rt
    March 12, 2011

    RT USA lost many lives on 9-11-01 and now Japan has lost more lives on 3-10-11. add the 2 dates together and you get 12-21-12. OMG

  29. #29 Rev Samuel Mukendi
    March 12, 2011

    It is with deep sorrows that I could notice a huge loss of human lives and that of material things in Japan.
    Additionally, I will keep on praying on behalf of the respectively bereft families.
    To conclude, I simply require that Japanese know the real Savior of this world: Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
    God keep Japan.
    Rev Samuel

  30. #30 Vivek
    March 12, 2011

    more vigilant measures should be taken and people should be trained to act properly in the case of a natural disaster, Tsunami is no exception and special measures should be taken which will surely prove life saving.

  31. #31 chris
    March 12, 2011

    cnn says the earths axis moved. Is this true or possible. Why didnt we feel it?

  32. #32 abadidea
    March 12, 2011

    chris @30: The earth is a 25000 miles / 40000 kilometers waist size. Adjusting tilt by four inches is very very little.

    This is my first time at this particular blog. I had no idea there were so many religious people on ScienceBlogs 😉 It’s embarrassing.

  33. #33 devon
    March 12, 2011

    why are we standing on a flat ground when the earth is round? 😕

  34. #34 Nayr Lee
    March 12, 2011

    To person who has live a bit over 40 years in this earth, I have to admit that I felt there could be a terrifying trend happening in the new millenium, I often wonder if it is because of our human activities or the change of the earth position, such as a very small angle, alerting the unseen forces upon our earth atmosphere and internal mechanism.

  35. #35 Annie Fogel
    March 12, 2011

    I find the idea of “global weirding” quite interesting, and yet I don’t exactly know what to think of it. I have a difficult time thinking that what is happening to the ground beneath us has anything directly to do with “the demise of the world” as some say it. However, I can’t help but notice the pattern. As was stated, “Four of the top ten most deadly earthquakes and tsunamis since 1701 occurred in the last decade”. Could this be because there are more concentrated amounts of people in the areas surrounding the natural disasters? Or even that the areas have not been as prepared for the disasters as some in previous history? What struck me the most out of this post what figure 15. The figure shows the total amount of deaths from tsunamis in ten year increments since 1701. The number of deaths between 2001 and 2010, 229,326 is drastically larger than that of any previous decade. In fact, in the decades of the twentieth century, deaths did not exceed 6,000. As to address the most recent natural disaster, the Japan earthquake and tsunami, it seems to fit into the pattern I mentioned. The event is still unfolding, so at this point the death toll, and total damage has not been able to be fully surveyed. All we can do is let time pass in order to see what happens in the future to either support or disprove the idea of “global weirding”.

  36. #36 RJ
    March 12, 2011

    These things are supposed to happen, right? I mean Japan is an earthquake-prone country. The reason why more people are dying is because we have an increase of population. And the reason why it seems we have more earthquakes is because we have more developed seismographs and we have global communication.

  37. #37 connie
    March 13, 2011

    just the earth being itself get real people.

  38. #38 Joey
    March 13, 2011

    The power of these disasters is unbelievable and the idea that they may be increasing in frequency and size is a scary thought but I think that the increase in deaths have to do with an increased population and the difficulty we have in giving aid the places like Haiti.

  39. #39 alex
    March 13, 2011

    OMG the poor japans i feel so sorry and were doing language and learning japanese =[ good luck rebuilding =]

  40. #40 Adam
    March 13, 2011

    Poor japanese pplz i feel so sorry for dem im learning japanese at school and its horendous

  41. #41 alex
    March 13, 2011

    if i knew the japanese national anthen i would sing

  42. #42 Colin
    March 13, 2011

    Reason for the increase is technology dipshits. no technology in the early 1900s…..but God bless Japan.

  43. #43 britney
    March 13, 2011

    the world mite end 2012 and i am only 12 🙁
    i hope some onme could tell god face to face
    we all wont the world to stay
    we all from Guise Public School
    wish the best for Japan.

  44. #44 jez
    March 13, 2011

    ..this is another challenge, not just for japanese people, but for the whole mankind, when natural calamity strikes, there is no assurance for safety even for the most high-tech gadgets that a man could possibly invent to detect or stop this disaster..yes, i mean it and im scared watching videos and viewing photos of horrible happenings of tsunami, for anytime at any place this could happen to us even we dont expect it, the world is changing and so humans adopt, but the question is, are we ready to face what lies ahead our future considering this changes??life has no warnings..we all gonna die and we all know that, the only thing we dont know is when will that happen and in what form of death it may be,im not threatening anyone, but i guess this is true,.. God Bless Us All..have faith guys,

  45. #45 Kim
    March 14, 2011

    Certainly some concerned people out there. Our lives will all end one day, for most of us we do not know the when or the how. It is sad that many in Japan have perished, lets hope that the goodness that resides within each of us rises to the surface and we all help without the usual total regard to self. Another opportunity for peoples the world over to assist unconditionally.

    Yes I did feel the earth move on Friday, but “she who must be obeyed” said she didn’t feel a thing !!

  46. #46 m.a.sastry
    March 14, 2011

    Japanese are good people. They are not aggressors or plunderers like westerners. I wonder why the God is testing them. Probably God wants to strengthen them. I wish them all the strength from God. Even we in India are facing problems from anti nationals in the form of terrorism. Anti social elements in Hyderabad of Andhra Pradesh are as bad as tsunami.


  47. #47 mahi
    March 15, 2011

    The more chanllenges come to the people who’re most strong.. May god give more strength to japanese to come out of this sad moment and lets all put our hands together to show our humanity..

  48. #48 Carla
    March 15, 2011

    God please help Japan, They need you know more then ever! All we need is to pray, and it gets better for them.

  49. #49 gigglebird
    March 16, 2011

    we should have a massive day where everyone in the world dresses up as something to do with japan and put in a donation for them all.

  50. #50 gigglebird
    March 16, 2011

    we arn’t gonna die. it’s a myth. duhh!!!!!!

    some people don’t have brains. how stupid are they!!!


  51. #51 gigglebird
    March 16, 2011

    AND u “JOHN” if u don’t have anthing sensible to say SHUTUP and u may not die [if ur lucky but ur stupid not lucky].


  52. #52 summerbom
    March 16, 2011

    MALAYSIA GOVERNMENT! Pls learn the lesson, don be stupid and put Malaysians into trouble….

  53. #53 dinerdash
    March 16, 2011

    May ALL the Nations in the World will learn from this painful lessons. The price of having nuclear power plants is too expensive because it’s going to sacrifice our life and future generation…………PLS STOP HAVING THIS STUPID IDEA!

  54. #54 dinerdash
    March 16, 2011

    I felt so sad and sorry for th senior citizenz and the kids. MAY God’s loving hand takes care of them!

  55. #55 kim
    March 16, 2011

    chinga tu madre we are gonna die so vote for jay lo to be president and screw the world…

    with love chiniqua (:

  56. #56 jaylo
    March 16, 2011

    i love japanese people and i hope they are doing fine ): it brings tears to my eyes. SAVE ME SOME RICE!!!!!!!!!!!
    and bring me some chicken

    love you all ^.^

  57. #57 JULIA
    March 16, 2011


  58. #58 Derek Koontz
    March 17, 2011

    The Bible might talk about earthquakes and waves, but it never says that Japan will be struck in 2011 or anything remotely specific like that. Besides, the worst event of the last thousand years was the Bubonic Plague, and that was 700 years ago.

  59. #59 hussain
    March 18, 2011

    i am pray to japan inshaallah

  60. #60 Ellen Eckel
    March 18, 2011

    Japan is asking for help, since it’s been badly damaged and lots of people lost their homes. Japan was hit by 3 earthqakes , tsunami and a volcanic eruption was reported. They obviously need help! So currently people are trying to help Japan more than Africa.

  61. #61 Tütüne Son
    March 19, 2011

    i love japanese people and i hope they are doing fine ): it brings tears to my eyes. SAVE ME SOME RICE!!!!!!!!!!!
    and bring me some chicken

  62. #62 chicken butt
    April 25, 2011

    hahahahaha global warming is stupid!

  63. #63 martin cardinal
    April 27, 2011

    This is a very horrible tragedy. This could affect the global economy. I am at age 15 and i can see that this is a tragic thing. Half of the comments that I see is very horrible. The Japanese people are facing a crisis. This will affect the U.S. almost as much as Japan. Think, if a nuclear power plant exploded then do you think the radiation will just disappear. No it will radiate to the U.S. We need to think on how to avoid this. This tragedy will affect the life on this planet dramatically. Don’t loose hope for improvement though.

  64. #64 Collin
    July 25, 2012

    Genuinely essential post admin wonderful a single i bookmarked your word wide web page see you in upcoming website put up.

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