A-level Geography/AS Edexcel Geography/Natural Hazards Introduction

A natural hazard differs from a natural event, and a natural disaster. A natural event is a naturally occurring physical occurrence. A hazard is a natural event that has the possibility to cause loss of life or economic damage. A natural disaster is when a natural event does cause loss of life and damage to property.

What makes something a natural disaster? The Swiss reinsurance company define a disaster as an event which causes 20 deaths or insurance damage of at least $16.2 million. This was in 1990 however, and the numbers will be affected by inflation. (In 2015 $16.2 = $29 538 785.00) Interestingly, we can see that a human life is worth roughly $1 476 939.25.

Natural hazards usually fall into one of two categories.

  • Geophysical hazards are natural hazards that occur as a result of the earth’s tectonic processes (Earthquakes and Volcanoes)
  • Hydrometerological hazards occur as a result of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic nature
  • Geomorphic hazards can be both geophysical or hydrometerological hazards. These could be associated with tectonic events, or climatic conditions. Avalanches and Landslides are examples of these

The Disaster Risk EquationEdit