There’s no doubting that natural disasters can be well disastrous. Fire, floods, hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes can affect human life and animal ecosystems. Can catastrophic natural events do nature a favour? As it turns out, many species of animals and plants can do much more than survive in the face of disaster. But they can thrive in the apparent devastation they leave behind.
Why are natural disasters important?
Nature has its path to regenerate and refresh itself. When nature needs to recycle itself, natural disasters like floods, storms, earthquakes etc., occur. As human beings, we force nature to do it. It’s because we break the natural system and process to our advantage. Every time and every day, humans destroy the natural ecosystem. So nature has its revenge for bouncing back itself. There are some advantages of natural disasters that still make the earth a habitable place.
Importance of volcanic eruptions
Volcanic eruptions or earthquakes on land produce deadly lava flows that cover everything in their path. The surrounding area is flattened and scorched by unstoppable pyroclastic flows. Explosive eruptions eject ash into the atmosphere, settling and threatening to smother anything that can’t get out of the way.
Indeed, anything that can’t get out of the way of an erupting volcano is likely to meet a quick hot end. But after the ash is settled and the lava flows cool, the environment left behind is suitable for colonizing life. That’s because volcanic material like lava and ash derived from deep within the Earth’s crust. It is rich in minerals that contain iron, calcium, sodium and potassium.
Once these minerals start to break down, they create an incredibly fertile soil with everything that plants crave. Pioneering plants like lichens and mosses move in to make the most of these minerals. And these are soon followed by other insect-pollinated plants and animals. Before long, a new habitat is created, feeding off the minerals that came from deep beneath the surface.
In Hawaii, where lava flows are continually reshaping the islands. Ferns and small trees can colonize the rainy sides of the volcanic slopes within just two years. And older volcanic territories like the slopes of Vesuvius in Italy are some of the most fertile agricultural lands in the world, having supported farming for thousands of years.
Volcanoes erupting underwater will eventually create new islands. They are just waiting for new inhabitants, and they get there by floating, swimming, flying or hitching a ride. The animals and plants could find a utopia rich in mineral resources without competition or danger, allowing them to thrive and create unique ecosystems.
Once the fire has passed through and destroyed the weaker unprotected plants, the fire retardant ones can awake to a clean slate without the pressures of competition or consumption from animals. At least for a while, it’s effective if brutal reset button to banish invasive species and reduce overpopulation. But some plants go further than that. It is not just weathering out a firestorm but also actively embracing it, making it a necessary part of their life cycles.
The eucalyptus tree and Australian Nicaea both have seed pods that are completely sealed by resin. The only way that the seeds can be released and dispersed is by the fire’s heat physically melting the resin. The seeds of acacia plants that lie dormant in the soil are triggered to start sprouting by extreme heat and chemicals from smoke and ash. These plants simply can’t reproduce without the devastating fires that sweep across their habitats. Since the fire itself makes it more likely that the new plants will succeed. The silver lining to natural disasters doesn’t end there either.
Importance of floods
Floods create fertile plains that can support lush agriculture and offer temporary safe spawning grounds for fish. It helps to move fish to lakes and rivers normally separated by land, revitalizing the biodiversity.
- River regenerates the path and regains navigability.
- Floods remove the waste and keep the environment clean.
Importance of storms (Hurricane/Tsunami/Typhoon/Cyclone)
The main effect of these storms is that they have a global impact. They move excess energy out of the hot tropical latitudes towards the cold polar latitudes. They’ve helped maintain the heat balance of the planet. That’s the fundamental thing that storms do on this earth. While they do produce bad flash flooding, they can at times produce beneficial rainfall for many countries.
Storms (Hurricane/Tsunami/Typhoon/Cyclone) have played important parts as their strong winds and stormy conditions helped distribute heat across the Earth’s surface. They were also stopping it from becoming inhospitably hot in the tropics. Unbelievably even the most catastrophic events that have caused the mass extinctions in Earth’s history could be suitable for some. The meteorite impact that wiped out the dinosaurs eventually led to the death of three-quarters of life on Earth but for the quarter that remained.
The parts of the southeastern United States depend on the regular occurrence of landfalling hurricanes to recharge aquifers. And they get to the places out of their long summer droughts. They promote the health of forest ecosystems because these damaging winds come through and clear out a lot of the old, weak, diseased trees in tropical forests. It allows the floors to rejuvenate. And they certainly are potent agents of beach erosion deposition of sand. They also cause barrier islands to shift over time.
- In the Atlantic Ocean, hurricanes drive this giant overturning of warm water flowing north and cold water flowing south called the thermohaline circulation.
It’s a giant conveyor belt of water, and this thermohaline circulation regulates the Earth’s climate on short timescales, and hurricanes may help drive this.
The world was full of empty land and new opportunities. Those opportunities allowed an explosion of new species beginning an age of brand-new mammals and birds. Without that meteorite, there’s an excellent chance we wouldn’t be here.
- Why Do Volcanoes Erupt?
- How Does Tornado Form?
- How Does A Tsunami Form?
- What Causes A Hurricane To Occur?
- What Is A Lava Tube?