Natural Hazards and Environmental Risks

Picture of summer floods in 2007, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK Summer Floods in 2007, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK. Photo - CEH

The forces of the natural world can cause significant risk to life, property and economies. The power of extreme weather events and geological movements can alter the status quo in sudden dramatic actions. Natural risk includes flooding and mudflow, landslides, avalanches, droughts and fires and coastal realignment.

Industrialization has created additional stresses on the capacity of natural systems to recycle and regenerate, leading to a different set of environmental risk. Aspects of this research area include understanding resilience of natural systems and modelling the uncertainties associated with risk management strategies.

Societal impact and strategic research objectives

There are immense impacts of natural hazards and environmental risk on society and its economies. In addition to major loss of life there are huge economic costs in terms of destroyed infrastructure, and immediate and long-term relief. The goal of the research is to understand and assess causes, risks and effects, and then to examine management and mitigation strategies. Moreover, as climate change and land use change occurs, it will be important to determine consequential change in natural hazards risk.

Political and administrative framework

The development of harmonized EU-wide methodologies and information systems for the prevention and prediction of weather-driven natural hazards is important to optimize the support and exchange expertise. This is designed to complement national and local initiatives.

Read more on natural hazards on JRC home page: http://ies.jrc.ec.europa.eu/the-institute/units/climate-risk-management.html

Main sub-fields and areas

  • Floods
  • Mudflows
  • Droughts
  • Mass movements
  • Avalanches
  • Forest fires
  • Earthquakes and tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • Air pollution
  • Water pollution

Approach

Natural hazards research requires a robust and comprehensive framework that links individual hazard and multi-hazards research with the integration of the risk-reduction chain. This includes understanding, modelling, forecasting natural systems and events and a thorough risk analysis of exposure and vulnerability with particular attention to the multi-risk dimension. This approach is necessary for risk management as well as for developing prevention and mitigation strategies.