DP Geography Exam Questions on Hazards and Disasters

May 2011

7. (a) Describe the pattern of either the earthquake hazard risk or the volcanic hazard risk shown on the map. [4 marks]  Map removed for copyright reasons
The volcanic hazard risk occurs close to the coast. Responses should mention areas where volcanoes have mainly not erupted recently (West coast of USA and Canada); more recently (Alaskan archipelago); and the location of the particularly hazardous volcano north of Portland. The lack of volcanic hazard between Juneau and Anchorage may be noted.
The earthquake hazard risk is highest in South Alaska; medium risk occurs in the remaining coastal zones; areas of low risk occur inland from the Portland-Juneau axis and in north and west Alaska.
If both earthquake and volcano risk pattern are described, credit the better response.
Four valid statements are required for [4 marks].

(b) Explain the relationship between the magnitude of a hazard event and the frequency of its occurrence. [6 marks]
Responses should explain what is meant by hazard frequency or recurrence interval [1 mark] and magnitude or size of the event (but not the level of impact) [1 mark]. The remaining [4 marks] should be given for a reasoned explanation as to why hazard events of high magnitude generally occur infrequently while those of low frequency generally occur more often. The strongest responses will refer to named hazard types to illustrate this relationship or to anomalies. Accept climate change causing increases in hazard frequency if it refers to drought and hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons.

(c) Examine the impacts of one named disaster and possible strategies for preventing its recurrence. [10 marks]
The disaster should be named and located. It is important that the chosen event is a disaster and not just a low impact hazard event. It should be an event that has caused widespread disruption to an area, major population loss, significant damage to the environment and considerable economic consequences. The impacts should be described in these terms and should reflect how the people affected were not able to deal with the event without help from outside agencies. The remainder of the answer should examine at least two possible prevention strategies and, to access bands E and F, discuss their potential effectiveness for disaster prevention in the future. Such strategies will probably refer to adjustment and long-term response strategies appropriate to the hazard that caused the disaster. Though most answers will probably refer to disasters caused by earthquakes, volcanoes or strong winds, allow coastal floods that result from hurricane/cyclone/typhoon storm surges and strategies such as levee construction, flood walls, dykes, raised shelters, warning systems and evacuation measures.
Answers that do not refer to a named disaster should not move above band D. Marks should be allocated according to the markbands.

8. (a) Describe the difference between a hazard and a disaster. [2+2 marks]
A hazard constitutes a threat to people, property and/or the environment [1 mark]. It can be natural or human in origin [1 mark].
A disaster results from a hazard event that has major impacts on people, economic and/or environmental impacts [1 mark] and which the area or country cannot deal with unless there is outside aid [1 mark].

(b) Explain why some sections of a community are more vulnerable to hazards than others. [6 marks]
Award up to [3 marks] for each section of a community whose vulnerability is well explained or for a single factor which is well explained.
Vulnerable sections could include: different age categories, income groups, people with disabilities, location, gender, and ethnicity. (Do not accept MEDC/LEDC differences.) Not all of these are needed for [6 marks].
[6 marks] may also be awarded for a brief explanation of six valid factors. Factors might include: knowledge of the hazard, education level, warning systems, insurance, communications, population density, income level, building types and construction codes.

(c) Compare the effectiveness of the methods used to predict the occurrence of two different natural hazard types. [10 marks]
Answers depend on the hazard types chosen.
The two hazard types should be clearly identified and must be natural hazards. (It is expected that these will be chosen from volcanic hazards, earthquakes, hurricanes or drought, but other natural hazard types such as tsunamis may be credited.) Answers should clearly outline the methods used to try to predict the named hazard types and make comparisons as to their reliability in forecasting hazard events. Responses that compare the effectiveness of methods used to predict one of the hazard types should be credited, but comparisons between the methods used for different types of hazard should form the bulk of the argument to essentially determine which hazard is the more predictable.
To access bands E and F, answers should effectively compare the methods used.

November 2011

7.  (a) Identify two of the hazards shown and explain your choice. [2+2 marks]
A – earthquake – quakes last for seconds/minutes and affect a small area.
B – accept: either volcano – lasts for days to months; ash can affect a wide area
or hurricane/typhoon/cyclone – lasts for days – affects a wide area.
C – drought – lasts for months/years – affects a very large area.
Accept any other valid examples and explanations. The selection of a hazard not specifically named in the syllabus is likely to be self-limiting and requires no special action on the part of the examiner.
Allow [1+1 marks] for identification of the hazards and [1+1 marks] for justifications.

(b) Analyse the global distribution of one of the hazards you identified in part (a). [6 marks]
The chosen hazard should be clearly stated. A global scale must be used in the analysis. Award [2 marks] for the description of the global pattern of the hazard and [4 marks] for the explanation of the distribution, with reasons for any variations in the pattern.

(c) Using examples, evaluate the success of adjustment and response strategies for a named hazard type. [10 marks]
The named hazard should be clearly stated. Relevant adjustment strategies may include modifying the hazard or changing the loss potential through building design, warning systems or land-use planning. In addition, adjustments to the loss may be included in terms of spreading losses, planning for loss or simply bearing the loss. Not all of these need be included in a good answer. Response strategies could include short-term rescue, shelter and aid, medium-term restoration of infrastructure and long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The strongest answers will refer to examples of strategies used before and after actual hazard events. Answers that do not use examples or that simply describe relevant strategies should not move above band D. To access bands E and F, at least one adjustment and one response strategy should be evaluated.

8. (a) Outline the methods used to describe the magnitude (strength) of two hazard types. [2+2 marks]
The most likely types selected will be earthquakes (Richter or Mercalli scale), volcanoes (VEI scale) and hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons (Saffir-Simpson scale). In each case allow [1 mark] for naming the relevant scale and [1 mark] for a brief description. Responses that refer to hazards not in the syllabus, such as tornadoes, but that outline the relevant scale, should be credited.

(b) Suggest three reasons why some people continue to live in places with a known hazard risk. [3×2 marks]
Award [1 mark] for each reason stated (e.g. soil quality, poverty, lack of knowledge, historical inertia) and [1 mark] for an extended explanation or detail of the hazard risk.

(c) “Economic factors and not physical factors determine the severity of the impacts of hurricanes (typhoons, cyclones).” Discuss this statement using examples. [10 marks]
A number of approaches are possible but most answers will refer to the contrasting effects of hurricanes on countries with contrasting levels of development. It is important that the answer refers to physical factors such as the strength of the hurricane, the size of the storm surge or the landscape of the area affected, as well as economic factors that may determine levels of preparation and protection, warning systems, evacuation, aid and recovery responses.
The strongest answers that access bands E and F should focus on at least two hurricane events and balance the relative importance of these factors in assessing the severity of the impact in terms of loss of life, environmental damage and loss of property (economic cost).
Answers that simply describe the impacts, or just describe physical and economic factors without discussing their relative importance, should not move above band D.
Similarly, answers that do not refer to examples should not be able to access bands E and F.

May 2012

7. (a) Describe the distribution of areas in the northern hemisphere that have been affected by five or more severe drought events from 1974 to 2004. [4 marks]
Award [1mark] for each valid statement, either about general distribution (e.g. most of the affected areas are between the equator and 30°N) or based on the naming of specific regions, e.g. East Africa, or countries. No credit should be given for references to locations in the southern hemisphere.

(b) Analyse three ways in which communities can reduce the impact of drought. [2+2+2 marks]
Possible answers might include: early prediction through satellite remote sensing that detects changes in vegetation growth; the adoption of water conservation legislation in cities; cloud seeding; desalination; prevention of vegetation loss through overgrazing or soil erosion; water conservation techniques such as cisterns or tanks, catching runoff to raise water tables in wells using check dams and soil bunds; animal herd diversification; crop diversification migration; dry farming methods; government and international food aid; and disaster relief programmes. A variety of scales is acceptable.
Award [1mark] for a description of the method used, and [1mark] for development either by example or elaboration.

(c) “Hazard preparedness is more important than hazard prediction.” Discuss this statement with reference to any one hazard other than drought. [10 marks]
It is expected that most answers will refer to earthquakes or volcanoes or to hurricanes or their associated hazards.
Answers that focus on a single, related hazard, such as a tsunami or storm surge, are equally acceptable. Discussion of human induced hazards is also valid.
Answers should examine the effectiveness of methods of prediction of the chosen hazard and balance this with the success of methods used to prepare populations and property for the impact of a hazard event. In order to reach markbands E and F answers should present a discussion rather than just a list of prediction and preparation methods and reach a conclusion.
It should not be possible to reach markbands E and F without reference to actual hazard events.

8. (a) Define:
(i) hazard risk, [2 marks]
Hazard risk is the probability (accept “potential threat”) of a hazard event causing harmful consequences [1 mark]. Award a further [1 mark] for development of this in terms of threats to life/property, injury, possessions, building structures, infrastructure.

(ii) hazard probability. [2 marks]
Hazard probability is the likelihood of a hazard event actually occurring [1 mark]. Award a further [1 mark] for development of this in terms of the magnitude of an event and the frequency of its occurrence (the greater the magnitude, the less frequent the occurrence), or for reference to seasonal hazard occurrence, such as hurricanes.

(b) Explain three factors that affect the way that people perceive hazards. [2+2+2 marks]
Factors could include past experience of hazard events, level of education, age, gender, social status, access to information systems, level of technology, wealth, level of economic development, government awareness programs, religion (hazards as acts of God), personality. Award [1 mark] for identifying a valid factor, with a further [1 mark] for explaining how it affects hazard perception.

(c) Examine the impact of a recent human-induced (technological) hazard event. [10 marks]
The hazard event should be identified and located. A description of the nature of the hazard event should be stated. The impact of the hazard, on people, the environment, infrastructure and economy (as relevant) should be examined, though not necessarily all in the same depth. References to responses to the hazard should also be credited according to the markbands.
Answers that do not relate to explosion or escape of hazardous material should not be credited beyond band C.

November 2012

7. (a)  Describe the atmospheric conditions in the eye and the eyewall of a typical hurricane. [2+2 marks]

In the eye the air is shown to be descending/warming [1 mark]. This results in calm weather and clear skies [1 mark].
In the eyewall the air is rising, rotating around the eye / cooling [1 mark]. This results in strong winds and heavy rain [1 mark].
Accept other plausible answers such as references to the release of latent heat in the eyewall causing rapid uplift / atmospheric pressure variations.

(b) Explain the conditions needed for the occurrence of a hurricane hazard event. [6 marks]
Valid conditions might include:
-warm ocean temperatures of 26/27o C provide the energy for the hurricane due to high rates of evaporation that trap latent heat which is released when condensation occurs during uplift
-suitable distance from the equator – allows the Coriolis force to operate giving rotation to the storm
-a stable atmosphere with no wind shear – the lack of variable wind speed with altitude allows vertical development of the storm to occur
-allow other valid conditions such as warm water depth of 50 metres
-concentrated/vulnerable population in areas where the hazard is likely to strike e.g. coastal areas / removal of mangrove etc.
Answers should consider at least two conditions in detail or more in less detail to gain full marks. There should be some acknowledgement of the human dimension of the hazard event for maximum marks.

(c) “Rich countries experience hazard events while poor countries experience disasters.” Discuss this statement with reference to one named hazard type. [10 marks]
Answers should distinguish between a hazard (a threat that may cause loss of life or damage to property and the environment) and a disaster (resulting from a major hazard event and causing significant disruption, losses to life, property and ecosystems that the affected community is unable to deal with adequately without outside help).
Answers depend upon the type of hazard chosen but should refer to only one hazard type. It is expected that answers will discuss the ways in which rich countries are able to introduce measures that mitigate the effects of a hazard event thus reducing its impacts while poor countries are less able to do this and remain more vulnerable to the impacts of hazard events. It is expected that examples of hazard events from rich countries and poor countries would be included to illustrate this. Good answers may suggest that rich countries are also vulnerable to disasters dependent on the intensity and location of the hazard event.
Answers that refer to multiple hazards should only be credited for the best of these. Answers that simply describe hazard events in poor countries and rich countries should not move above band D. To reach bands E and F a balanced discussion is expected.

8 (a) Describe the changes shown in the graph. [4 marks]

Award [1 mark] for each valid statement supported by evidence from the graph including dates and costs. Possible answers include:
• a general upward trend in the cost of hazard events (e.g. no events costing
over $25 billion before 1975, many events costing over $50 billion after 1988)
• but not a simple rise – there are fluctuations
• identification of major anomalies/cost events (Kobe, Indian Ocean tsunami)
• fall in 2000s compared with 1990s
• there may be other creditable points.

(b) Explain the reasons for these changes. [6 marks]
Answers could refer to:
• people have more possessions and more valuable possessions over time
• the increasing value of property and infrastructure over time
• more people are living in hazard prone areas.
Award [1 mark] for each valid reason; some development of each reason is expected for [2 marks]. Accept other valid reasons but they must include a clear explanation.
Answers that refer to an increase in the number or intensity of hazard events over time must give valid supporting evidence.

(c) Examine the different types of responses that occurred during and after a named disaster. (Do not refer to technological hazards in your answer.) [10 marks]
The disaster must be dated and located. How the event resulted in a disaster should be explained. The answer should refer to specific short-term (“during” as well as possibly before or immediate aftermath), medium and long-term responses (“after”) related to the actual hazard event.
Short-term responses might include: search and rescue, emergency medical assistance, provision of security, emergency shelter, food and water and the clearing of debris resulting from the hazard event. Medium-term responses might include: destruction of damaged buildings, restoration of services such as communications, health care, transport and retailing, the return of displaced persons and rehabilitation programmes. Long-term responses may include: reconstruction, planning for future hazard events in terms of emergency response systems, the introduction of measures to mitigate future impact on people and property, awareness education and hazard training, the development of warning systems and evacuation strategies where relevant.
There may be alternate approaches – such as an examination of the efforts made by different agencies (NGOs, governments, etc.) – and these should be credited. Answers that simply describe local responses to a hazard event, as opposed to a disaster requiring outside assistance should not move above band D. Answers that examine a range of responses may be credited at bands E and F. Responses that examine a disaster outside the scope of the syllabus (e.g. floods) should be marked on their merits.

May 2013
The map shows the population exposed to tectonic hazards in south and east Asia.
7. (a) Describe the pattern of high population exposure to tectonic hazards shown on
the map.
􏰂 Areas of high exposure are linear
􏰂 They lie along some plate boundaries
􏰂 These include the Himalaya region, the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia
􏰂 NE China has non-linear/scattered areas of high exposure
􏰂 Some anomalous high areas eg some islands
􏰂 High exposure coincides with high population density areas.
Four valid statements are needed for [4 marks]. Up to [1 mark] for a list of place names.

(b) Suggest three reasons why communities often underestimate the probability of a tectonic hazard event occurring in their locality. [2+2+2]
Valid reasons could include lack of information and awareness of the hazard, poor education and ignorance of the risk resulting in lack of preparedness, poor information systems such as TV and radio, a long period since the last hazard occurrence, level of economic development, hazards as acts of God or fate, threat of the hazard compared with other concerns such as jobs, security, money, food availability, politics, civil unrest.
1 mark per reason identified and 1 mark for some further detail of why this leads to underestimation of probability.

(c) Examine the ways in which vulnerability to either earthquake or volcanic hazards can be reduced. [10]
Vulnerability refers to the susceptibility of a community to a hazard or the impact of a hazard event. It is a function of demographic and socio-economic factors and of a community’s preparedness/ability to deal with a hazard event when it happens.
Answer depends on the hazard chosen – a range of ideas can be covered, including larger-scale community/national government strategies, including relocation, as well as personal/individual actions (such as insurance). These include prediction and warning methods, hazard resistant engineering, preparedness, land use planning, modifying the event.
At band D, at least two ways should be described in some depth. At bands E and F, a clear understanding of vulnerability should be displayed (eg contrasting/varied ways are examined to highlight both property and social vulnerability).
Marks should be allocated according to the markbands.

8. (a) (i) Identify a scale used to measure the magnitude of one hazard type. [1]
Suitable magnitude scales would be the VEI or Richter.
Also accept intensity scales such as Mercalli or Saffir-Simpson scale.

(ii) Describe the main features of the scale you identified in (a)(i). [3]
􏰂 Statement of what is being measured (eg earthquake magnitude)
􏰂 May identify upper limit where one exists
􏰂 May identify critical boundaries (eg severe hurricane is 3+ on SS scale)
􏰂 Some idea of the differences between levels of the scale
􏰂 Provides example(s).

Three valid descriptive statements are needed for [3 marks].

(b) Explain the occurrence of hurricanes (tropical cyclones, typhoons) in a named area. [6]
Answers should name and locate a specific area [1 mark] and explain the reasons for the occurrence of the hurricane in that particular area [5 marks]. The approach depends on the area chosen (could be a single town or wider region eg Caribbean). The formation of hurricanes (and thus their initial occurrence) is linked with a range of factors including water temperature and depth of warm water. Alternatively, their occurrence in coastal/inland areas can be explained with reference to hurricane development and tracks. Credit answers that claim increasing intensity/magnitude due to global warming.

(c) “The economic impact of disasters is increasing while related deaths are decreasing.” Discuss this statement, with reference to examples of disasters. [10]
A disaster is a major hazard event that causes widespread disruption to a community or region so that the affected community is unable to deal with adequately without outside help.
Answers should examine reasons for the increasing economic cost of disasters and the differences between rich and poor countries. However, the relative financial cost may be greater in poor countries. There may also be indirect losses such as from a decline in tourism and individual losses may be greater where there is no insurance cover.
The general trend has been for fewer deaths in disasters (reasons should be given) – but there are notable exceptions such as the Indian Ocean and Japanese tsunamis. The fact that more people are living in vulnerable areas could also be considered. Answers that describe hazard events that are not disasters (ie do not require outside assistance) should not move above band D.
For band D, examples must be used and impacts described. For bands E and F, some discussion of the statement should be offered (eg may see it as a generalization and dependent on a country’s level of development, or recognizes some types of disaster eg mega-disasters/tsunamis can still bring many deaths).

November 2013
 7. (a) (i) State the height in metres of the highest point west of gridline 35. [1]
11 metres (allow 7 metres)

(ii) State the four-figure grid reference for the square in which this point is located. [1]
3419 (3320 for height of 7 metres in part (i))

(iii) State the shortest distance by road, in kilometres, between the school and the ferry at Cupola. [2]
Award the full [2 marks] to answers in the range 2.6 to 2.8 km. Award 1 mark to answers in the range 2.4 to 2.5 km or 2.9 to 3.0 km

(b) Using map evidence only, explain why the inhabitants of this area were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of Hurricane Irene. [6]
Explanations based on the map include:
• low relief (must state actual heights)
• limited evacuation possibilities by road – one road to the east and possible
• limited evacuation possibilities by sea – only one ferry shown
• presence of a school – particularly vulnerable age group
• lack of protection from the south as hurricane approaches – though coast dunes
appear higher than inland areas
• flatness and large areas of marsh increase the flood risk from heavy rainfall and
potential flooding on evacuation routes
• exposure to the ocean and flat relief – means little friction therefore very high
potential wind speeds
• situated directly in path of the hurricane track (as photograph on map shows).
Award [1 mark] for each explanation based on the map, and another [1 mark] for any further development (as indicated above).
The full [6 marks] can be awarded for six explanations without further development, or three explanations with development, or any combination thereof.

(c) “The level of economic development is not the main factor affecting the impact of a tectonic hazard event on a community.” Discuss this statement, with reference to either earthquakes or volcanoes. [10]
Answers should refer to examples of only one tectonic hazard type (earthquakes or volcanoes). Discussions should balance hazard events where the level of economic development proved to be a main factor affecting the impact, with other hazard events where this is not the case. In addition to economic development, factors such as population density, intensity of the hazard, time of day, awareness, prediction and warnings, ability to evacuate, preparedness, landscape, geology, and proximity to the hazard source could be taken into account. It is acceptable to argue that many/some of these may relate indirectly to levels of economic development.
If the response only looks at the factor of economic development it should not be credited above band D.
At band E candidates should provide some balance between economic and other factors and begin to show some attempt at evaluation.
At band F there should be a well balanced evaluation/conclusion. Marks should be allocated according to the markbands.

8. (a)  (i) Describe what is meant by hazard risk. [2]
Risk is the probability of a hazard causing deaths, injuries, property and environmental damage [1 mark]. Award [1 mark] for developing the idea by means of exemplification or identification of a factor that affects risk (location/magnitude/frequency/recurrence).

(ii) Describe what is meant by vulnerability to hazards. [2]
Vulnerability refers to the conditions (demographic, social, economic or environmental) that affect the susceptibility of people to a hazard [1 mark]. Award 1 mark for developing the idea by means of exemplification or identification of a vulnerable group in a population (elderly/poor/gender).

(b) Explain how building design and land-use planning can limit the potential damage from one named hazard type. [6]
Building design: hurricane/flood surge protection may refer to large, raised shelters or individual house construction methods (metal shutters, thick concrete walls, secure roofs, stilts). Earthquake designs might include reinforced concrete foundation platforms, metal frames, shock absorbers, counterweights, safety glass, or in LEDCs light wooden frames, woven cane walls, light roofs, cement footings, concrete stilts in tsunami areas. In volcanic areas, buildings that have reinforced roofs to withstand the weight of ash or steep roofs to shed ash, or prefabricated sectioned homes that can be moved to avoid damage by lava flows.
Land-use planning: there are many possibilities, depending on the hazard type chosen, including prohibited development in areas with a known risk, evacuation routes, shelter access, buffers, mangroves, land-use zoning, building height restrictions.
Award 1 mark for each idea, and additional marks for exemplification or extended explanation.
A simple list of factors without an explanation should not be awarded more than 3 marks.
If only building design or only land-use planning is addressed, award up to a maximum of 4 marks.
Accept answers that explain a number of designs in general or fewer detailed explanations.

(c) “The faster the speed of onset, the greater the impact of the hazard event.” Discuss this statement, with reference to examples. [10]
Responses should examine at least two different, named hazard events with varying speeds of onset and discuss the relationship between the speed of onset and the impact of the hazard event. A balanced argument is required that takes into account hazard events with a rapid speed of onset, such as earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic explosions, and those with slower onset, such as hurricanes or droughts which may have an equally large impact in the longer term.
Responses that do not make use of examples should not progress beyond band D. Candidates might focus either on different hazard types (eg drought compared to
earthquakes) or different events of the same hazard type (eg volcanic eruptions). At band D responses are likely to be descriptive.
At band E expect a reasoned discussion between at least two different hazard events and an attempt at a conclusion.
At band F there should be a well balanced conclusion. Marks should be allocated according to the markbands.

May 2014


(a) Describe the changes shown from 12 August to 14 August in:
(i) Storm intensity; [2]
Increases from category 1 to category 4 [1 mark] and provides dates or locations for this [1 mark].
(ii) Storm direction. [2]
Moves towards north-west then moves towards north-east/swings left then right/moves clockwise [1mark] and provides dates or locations for this [1 mark].

(b) Explain two factors that affect the formation and development of hurricanes. [3+3]
Award [2 marks] for a description of each factor and [1 mark] for the explanation.
Answers could include:
• temperature of ocean [1 mark], ( 26 C–27 C ) [1 mark], water depth (at least
60m) to allow evaporation for the energy of hurricanes [1 mark]
• distance from the equator/latitude [1 mark], between approximately 5o – 30o of the equator [1 mark] as coriolis force [1 mark] is sufficient away from the equator
to generate spin [1 mark]
• movement of hurricanes away from tropical oceans [1 mark] as they move over
colder ocean areas and/or land masses [1 mark] they decline because of loss of
energy [1 mark]
• other possible factors include wind shear, wind speeds, converging winds,
development of an equatorial wave.

(c) Using examples, examine the demographic and socio-economic factors that affect the vulnerability of a community to hazard events. [10]
Responses should show an understanding of the term vulnerability and include a range of demographic factors (these may include population density, migration, gender, age) and socio-economic factors (these may include education level, wealth, awareness, experience, the level of development, technology, insurance). Many hazard events are socially selective eg, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (2005) had a disproportionate impact on poorer communities than on richer communities.
To access band D, demographic and/or socio-economic factors should be described and an example named.
To access band E either a good examination of vulnerability should also be provided or a wider range of demographic and socio-economic factors for recognizable location(s) examined.
At band F, expect both.
Marks should be allocated according to the markbands.

(a) With reference to either earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, describe two ways in which people’s quality of life deteriorates at point A on the diagram. [2+2]
Award [1 mark] for each impact on people (eg their home lost) and [1 mark] for how this affects quality of life (eg have to sleep in the open), or some detail of how the hazard led to this (ground shaking, liquefaction, volcanic ash).
Accept other valid statements.

(b) With reference to either an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, distinguish between the types of response to the hazard event that occur at point B and point C on the diagram. [6]
B represents short-term response such as:
• emergency search and rescue of collapsed buildings
• the provision of emergency aid / food / shelter
• the arrival of specialist personnel (external agencies)
• evacuation in case of aftershocks / further eruptions
• other valid short-term suggestions.
C represents longer term organized response, such as:
• reconstruction (possibly with improved design or land zoning)
• wreckage clearance
• salvage operations
• care and rehabilitation (physical/mental)
• other valid long-term suggestions.
Award [1 mark] for each appropriate response that is outlined and [1 mark] for any further development of that point (may use examples, or qualify statements in other ways).
Award up to [4 marks] for either B or C; balance is not expected. Maximum [3 marks] if ideas do not relate to earthquake or volcano.

November 2014

7. (a)
Describe the trends shown on the graph. [4]
1 mark for each of the following trends, and exceptions to/clarifications of the trends identified:
general trend is up to 1941–51, then down to 1991–2001
or may see a rise to 1891–1900, then general decline to 2010 but with some marked exceptions
recent upturn 2001–2010, or since 1971–80 (with exceptions)
rising trend is interrupted by anomalies at 1861–70, or 1901-10, 1921-30
may view lows at 1921–30 (18) and highs at 1941–50 (34) as interrupting a trend of some sort
after 1941–50 there were fewer than 25 hurricanes
1941–50 showed a sharp rise in the number of hurricanes [1 mark].
a fluctuating trend
other valid comments that identify a trend, or exceptions/anomalies to that trend.

(b) (i)
Outline the essential characteristics of drought. [2] 
1 mark for a valid definition of drought, and an additional 1 mark for development. For example:
Lower rainfall than the long-term average [1 mark] for a prolonged period of time [1 mark]
With resulting impacts on the environment or human activity as a result of water shortages [1 mark].

(ii) Explain the cause(s) of one named drought event. [4]
1 mark for the timing (accept some margin of error) and general location of one drought event eg 2008–9 in Australia. Award up to 3 marks for the explanation that follows.
For instance, credit any of the following ideas, if applied in a valid context:
El Niño event [1 mark] when Pacific trade wind reversal [1 mark] increased air pressure in Australia 2008 [1 mark] bringing dry, subsiding air [1 mark]
La Niña event [1 mark] when Pacific trade wind strengthening [1 mark] resulted in colder eastern pacific ocean and high pressure [1 mark] leading
to drought in Texas in 2011 [1 mark]
Excessive use of water by humans [1 mark]. Over-extraction of groundwater, or over-irrigation [1 mark] resulted in water shortages [1 mark] and drought in Australia in 2010 [1 mark].
Credit other valid examples and approaches.

(c) “The level of economic development is the most important factor that influences the vulnerability of a population to environmental hazard risks.” Discuss this statement. [10]
Credit all content in line with the markbands. Credit unexpected approaches wherever relevant.
Most responses will support the statement but high-scoring answers must present an argument to support their viewpoint that also examines other factors. Answers could refer to factors such as investment in warning systems, public education/awareness, effective lines of communication, preparedness and quality of emergency response, insurance, building codes, ability to coordinate the above. These are usually better developed in richer societies. Very good answers may refer to the fact that even in richer countries, some sections of the population are more vulnerable than others (may use case study of New Orleans, for example).
Other factors not related to economic development could include population density, knowledge of the area, culture, the magnitude of the hazard and the type of area (eg coastal) that the population inhabits.
For band D candidates must describe how economic development affects vulnerability with reference to at least one hazard type.
Band E should either provide much greater detail of a range of hazard risks that are related to economic development or discuss the concept of vulnerability in relation to at least one additional factor, such as population distribution.
At band F, expect both elements.

8. (a)
Describe two ways in which land-use planning (zoning) can reduce hazard risk for a named hazard type.  [2+2+2]
The hazard type should be clearly stated otherwise award no more than [2 marks] for a generalized answer not directly related to a hazard.
In each case, award [1 mark] for identifying a land-use planning strategy, and [1 mark] for  describing the nature of the risk.
For example:
housing can be prohibited on low-lying areas [1 mark] which suffer inundation when hurricanes strike [1 mark]
emergency services can be located in areas of low earthquake risk [1 mark] for instance away from major fault zones [1 mark].

(b) Explain three reasons why people continue to reside in areas that are known to
be affected by hazards. [2+2]
1 mark for each valid reason why people continue to occupy a site and 1 mark for some explanation of why they tolerate the hazard risk.
Possible site reasons could include: fertile soils, mineral deposits, tourist potential, attachment to home, inertia, lack of funds to move / poverty.
Possible explanation of why risk is ignored/tolerated may include: some people know the risk (experts) but not others; perception of severity of hazard; belief that recurrence will not happen anytime soon; confidence in defences / personal resilience.
For instance:
“Attractive landscapes are found in coastal areas [1 mark]. People think the day-to-day benefit of living there outweighs the occasional risk of a storm surge [1 mark].”
“A volcano may only explode every 500 years or so [1 mark]. So people won’t abandon their homes for such a very small chance [1 mark].”
“Many tourist jobs are found in coastal areas with a hurricane risk [1 mark] and people trust the warning systems work [1 mark].”
“People have a fatalistic attitude [1 mark], and remain in an area because of tradition/religious beliefs [1 mark].”
There may be other approaches and these should be credited.

(c) “Hazard events are predictable, disasters are not.” Discuss this statement. [10] 
Credit all content in line with the markbands. Credit unexpected approaches wherever relevant.
Hazard events are the occurrence of a hazard, the effects of which change demographic, economic and/or environmental conditions. By contrast, disasters are the realization of major hazard events that cause widespread disruption to a community or regions that the affected community is unable to deal with adequately without outside help.
Some environmental hazard events are more predictable than others eg hurricanes and volcanoes. Others are less so eg earthquakes, tsunami and human-induced technological hazards. Earthquake prediction might suggest where, but not when, and not the size of the event – so there are aspects of “predictable” to address that may be a feature of good answers.
Disasters are less predictable because the final intensity/magnitude of the hazard event, the resilience of defences and structures, and the extent of the area affected are unknown until after the event. The density of the population and wealth of the area affected are also contributory factors that mean the scale of disaster is not known until after the event when financial reckoning occurs.
For band D, candidates must comment on the predictability of hazards and disasters.
Band E should either provide greater detail about some range of hazard and disaster events, and the extent to which either are predictable, or offer some discussion of the concept of predictability, which has different dimensions (scale, cost, recovery).

At band F, expect both elements.

May 2015

7. (a)   
 Identify which hazard:
(i) affected the least number of people in 2012; [1]
(ii) affected the greatest number of people between 2002 and 2012. [1]

(b) Suggest two reasons why the number of people affected by storms in 2012 is lower
than in previous years.
In each case award [1] for a basic explanation of why the 2012 figure is smaller and [1] for some development (using knowledge of the hazard) or the applied use of an example, such as a large named hazard event occurring in 2002–2012.
• There may have been fewer hurricanes in 2012 [1] – may suggest reasons eg ENSO [1].
• There is natural variation in the strength of large hurricane events [1] and may link to higher return period idea (or similar) or may quote known case study data for 2002–2012 period, or may use Saffir–Simpson scale [1].
• Not all tracks reach populated areas [1] and may give details or knows case studies of “near misses” in 2012 [1].
• Credit suggestions of climatic variability or ENSO cycles [1] linked to critical temperature of 26°C [1].
• Prediction and monitoring [1] – allows for evacuation and therefore fewer affected [1].

(c) Explain what is meant by the:
(i) rehabilitation response to a hazard event; [2]
Award [1] for definition and [1] for further development or exemplification.
For example: Rehabilitation describes treatment or help for people who have been harmed in some way [1]. It involves different types of help
(eg counselling alongside surgery) [1] or after the Haiti earthquake 300 000 people needed help/rehabilitation [1].

(ii) reconstruction response to a hazard event. [2]
Award [1] for definition and [1] for further development or exemplification.
For example: Reconstruction describes the replacement of buildings damaged by a hazard event [1] (allow rebuilding of a country’s economy). It involves different types of work (eg repair work or new building) [1], or the reconstruction cost after Hurricane Katrina was US$81bn) [1].

(d) Examine why some areas of the world have a high hazard risk for either earthquakes or volcanoes. [10]
Hazard risk distribution comprises both the spatial distribution of earthquakes/volcanoes and population patterns and characteristics.
The physical explanation should include key factors such as tectonic margins, processes (subduction), possibly types of margin, and/or hotspots. Human factors may include coastal distributions of population, vulnerable megacities, income levels and property risks (the examination may compare the pattern of property risk in high-income countries with the pattern of mortality risk in low-income countries), adaptation measures.
If a candidate considers both earthquakes and volcanoes, only credit the first.
Good answers are likely to provide a structured examination of different human aspects of hazard risk (people/property) and may also distinguish between different physical aspects of the hazard risk (primary/secondary hazards). Another approach might be to use the concept of scale (eg examines how risk vary at both a macro-scale/continental scale and also at a micro-scale, such as along specific
fault lines).
For band D, expect some description of plate margins and/or the existence of countries/populations at different levels of economic development.
At band E, expect either more detailed explanation of why margin movements bring risk(s) to different locations or a structured examination of the human risks for different areas.
At band F expect both of these elements.

8. (a)
(i) Define the term disaster. [1]
A major hazard event that needs outside help.

(ii) Outline two long-term actions a community can take to reduce the economic impact of hurricanes. [2+2]
In each case award [1] for a basic way to reduce economic losses and [1] for some development (using knowledge of hurricanes, economics, planning, governance etc) or the applied use of an example, such as measures introduced after a named hurricane.
• Strengthen buildings [1] and may have details of structures or where this was done [1].
• Purchase insurance [1] and may explain how policies operate to reduce costs for individuals [1].
• Land-use planning [1] and may give details of areas to be avoided eg low lying land with flood risk [1].
• Improved warning systems [1], may suggest details, or describes a place where this was done [1].

(b) Explain the causes of one named human-induced hazard event. [5]
Award [1] for correctly identifying a named human-induced (human error) hazard event such as the 2010 major industrial waste spill in Hungary, the Chernobyl nuclear power incident, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (does not need to state year).
Award up to [4] for the explanation, for example:
• human error in design/operation identified [1] and may provide further
explanation of this [1]
• provides specific details of the hazardous material provided eg names gas,
radioactive isotopes [1]
• provides detail of how physical processes eg ocean currents, wind, led to a larger
area or particular areas being affected [1] and may give examples of areas [1]
• shows why the event constituted a hazard risk to humans eg oil affected
populated areas of Florida [1]
• credit other valid explanatory material (on the cause of the event / why it
constitutes a hazard).
“High tech” problems triggered by a natural hazard eg Fukushima 2011 can be awarded up to [3] only.

(c) Examine the reasons why people continue to live in areas that have been affected by severe drought hazard events. [10]
Drought should ideally be understood as below average/expected/normal precipitation (and not simply arid environments). The answer should ideally be related to the global distribution of actual drought, including named areas (may consider irregularities of mid-latitude air mass movements; cyclic shifts; El Niño and La Niña).
Answers that deal with naturally arid regions (that are not necessarily subject to drought, such as normal summers in the Mediterranean) can reach band E (but not band F) if the discussion of human behaviour or adaptation is good.
Reasons might include:
• lack of knowledge including serious secondary risks (wildfires)
• lack of economic options / poverty / inertia / fatalism
• political issues eg refugees forced into drought-stricken areas
• too trusting of insurance/governance
• resilient/adaptive behaviour eg water storage, deep wells, crop diversification,
temporary migration etc.
Good answers may examine in a structured way how reasons may vary according to the type of geographical area (level of development, scale, physical location eg continentality, geopolitics eg conflict zones). Another approach might be to examine the timescale over which drought events have occurred or knowledge of their recurrence intervals.
For band D, expect some description of a drought and/or some reasons why people do not relocate from hazardous areas in general
At band E, expect either more detailed explanation of reasons why people remain in drought-prone areas or a structured examination of different kinds of area/context for drought.
At band F expect both of these elements.
Marks should be allocated according to the markbands.