Natural Hazards

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 691–706 | Cite as

Chlorophyll concentration and surface temperature changes associated with earthquakes

  • Habibeh Valizadeh Alvan
  • Farid Haydari Azad
  • Husaini B. Omar
Original Paper


The preparation process of an impending earthquake may leave fingerprints on the earth’s surface. Elastic strain in rocks, formation of micro-cracks, gas releases and other chemical or physical activities in the earth’s crust before and during earthquakes has been reported to cause rises in temperature, surface latent heat flux (SLHF), upwelling index and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration on the ground or sea surface. Changes in surface temperature can be monitored with thermal infrared sensors such as NOAA-AVHRR and microwave radiometers like AMSR-E/Aqua. SLHF data and upwelling indices are provided by National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Reanalysis Project and Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory, respectively. This study examines behaviors of the above four factors prior to the past three oceanic and coastal earthquakes occurred at the Pacific Ocean (Northern California of June 15, 2005, Central California of September 28, 2004, and December 22, 2003). We were successful in detecting pre-earthquake anomalies prior to all three earthquakes. Our detailed analysis revealed 1–5 °C rises in surface temperature in epicentral areas. Considerable anomalies in Chl-a concentration, 1–2 weeks before the day of the main earthquakes, were spotted, which are attributed to the rise in upwelling index. Time series of SLHF showed meaningful rises from 1 month to a fortnight before the earthquake events. One problem in our research was the low resolution of the data which makes the graphs that are generated from NCEP database affected by all sources of anomalies, other than seismic activities, within an about 1.8°–2.5° (200 km) area.


Earthquake Chlorophyll Surface temperature Satellite Early information Upwelling 



The SLHF data have been downloaded from NCEP site. MDOIS Chl-a and AVHRR’s SST data were also used. Upwelling indices for the Pacific Ocean have been downloaded from Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory (PFEL). AMSR-E data are provided by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). Reanalysis data are downloaded from the IRI/LDEO Climate Data Library. Here, we greatly appreciate their help. The authors are thankful to two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions which helped us to improve the original version of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11069_2012_264_MOESM1_ESM.doc (8.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 9007 kb)
11069_2012_264_MOESM2_ESM.doc (2.6 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 2640 kb)
11069_2012_264_MOESM3_ESM.doc (3.3 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 3342 kb)


  1. Bisset WP, Schofield O, Glenn S, Cullen JJ, Miller WL, Plueddmann AJ (2001) Resolving the impacts and feedback of ocean optics on upper ocean ecology. J Oceanogr Soc 14(4):30–53Google Scholar
  2. Bograd SJ et al (2009) Phenology of coastal upwelling in the California Current. Geophys Res Lett 36:L01602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brickley PJ, Thomas AC (2004) Satellite-measured seasonal and inter-annual chlorophyll variability in the Northeast Pacific and Coastal Gulf of Alaska. Deep Sea Res II 51:229–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cervonove G, Kafatos M, Napoletani D, Singh RP (2004) Wavelet maxima curves of surface latent heat flux associated with two recent Greek earthquakes. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 4:359–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chaturvdi N, Narain A (2003) Chlorophyll distribution pattern in the Arabian Sea: seasonal and regional variability, as observed from SeaWiFS data. Int J Remote Sens 24(3):511–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Choudhury S, Dasgupta S, Saraf AK, Panda S (2006) Remote sensing observations of pre-earthquake thermal anomalies in Iran. Int J Remote Sens 27(20):4381–4396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dey S, Singh RP (2003) Surface latent heat flux as an earthquake precursor. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 3:749–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Freund F, Ouzonouv D (2001) EOS Trans. AGU, Fall Meet. Suppl. Abstract 82(47)Google Scholar
  9. Gorny VI, Salman AG, Tronin AA, Shilin BB (1988) Outgoing IR radiation of the Earth as an indicator of seismic activity. Proc Acad Sci USSR 301(1):67–69Google Scholar
  10. Ma W, Zhao H, Li H (2008) Temperature changing process of the Hokkaido (Japan) earthquake on 25 September 2003. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 8:985–989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Marchese F et al (2010) On the exportability of robust satellite techniques (RST) for active volcano monitoring. Remote Sens 2:1575–1588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nosov MA (1998) Ocean surface temperature anomalies from underwater earthquakes. Volcanol Seismol J 19(3):371–376Google Scholar
  13. Ouzounov D, Freund F (2003) Mid-infrared emission prior to strong earthquakes analyzed by remote sensing data. Adv Space Res 33/3:268–273Google Scholar
  14. Qin K, Guangment G, WU L (2009) Surface latent heat flux anomalies preceding inland earthquakes in China. Earthq Sci 22:555–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Saraf AK, Choudhury S (2005) Thermal Remote Sensing technique in the study of pre-earthquake thermal anomalies. J Ind Geophys Union 9(3):197–207Google Scholar
  16. Sathyenderanath S, Gouveia AD, Shetye SR, Ravindaranath P, Platt T (1991) Biological control of surface temperature in the Arabian Sea. Nature 349:54–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Singh RP, Dey S, Singh VP, Cervone G, Sarkar S, Kafatos M (2004) Prediction of coastal earthquakes using surface latent heat flux retrieved from satellite data. In: Proceedings of the world congress on natural disaster mitigation. World Federation of Engineering Organization, vol 2, pp 129–134Google Scholar
  18. Singh RP, Dey S, Bhoi S, Sun D, Cervone G, Kafatos M (2006) Anomalous increase of chlorophyll concentrations associated with earthquakes. Adv Space Res 37:671–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tang DL, Kawamura H, Luis AJ (2002) Short-term variability of phytoplankton blooms associated with a cold eddy in the northwestern Arabian Sea. Remote Sens Environ 81:82–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Thomas A, Brickley P, Ted Strub P (2002) Large-scale Chlorophyll variability along the eastern Pacific coastal margin. Investig Mar V.30, N.1 Sup1, Symp Valparaiso ago 2002Google Scholar
  21. Tronin AA (2000) Thermal IR satellite sensor data application for earthquake research in China. Int J Remot 21(16):3169–3177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wang CY, Shi YL (1984) On the thermal structure of subduction complexes: a preliminary study. J Geophys Res 89(B9):7709–7718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wang D, Deckter E, Wong T, Wielicki A (2002) Sensitivities of cloud and radiation to changes in SST over the tropical eastern Pacific: results from Cloud-resolving simulations. In: Proceedings of 25th conference on hurricanes and tropical meteorology, 29 April–3 May, 2002, San Diego, CA, USAGoogle Scholar
  24. Yoder JA, McClain CR, Feldman GF, Esaias WE (1993) Annual cycles of phytoplankton chlorophyll concentrations in the global ocean: a satellite view. Global Biogeochem Cycles 7:181–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Habibeh Valizadeh Alvan
    • 1
  • Farid Haydari Azad
    • 2
  • Husaini B. Omar
    • 1
  1. 1.Civil Eng. DepartmentUniversity Putra Malaysia (UPM)SerdangMalaysia
  2. 2.Zamin Wesal Iranian Consulting Engineers LtdTehranIran

Personalised recommendations