What are natural hazards?
A natural hazard is a natural event (for example flood, volcanic eruption, earthquake, tropical storm) that threatens people or has the potential to cause damage, destruction and death.
Climatic (meteorological) hazards
Natural events, such as volcanic eruptions or earthquakes that occur away from humans and properties are not considered natural hazards. When they happen close to human populations and property they are considered natural hazards.
Different factors affect the hazard risk from natural hazards. These are:
- urbanisation – densely populated areas are at greater risk of natural hazards;
- level of economic development – higher income countries (HICs) are better equipped to cope with natural hazards than lower income countries (LICs). This is because they have a better infrastructure, emergency response and systems for monitoring and predicting natural hazards. They also have better health care systems and more money to protect people e.g. earthquake-proof buildings;
- geographical location – some places are more at risk of natural hazards because of where they are. For example, countries around the Pacific Ring of Fire are more at risk of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes than those elsewhere. Additionally, as temperatures get warmer due to climate change there will be more tropical storms affecting countries in the tropics.