World at Risk


Sources of information

Centre for the Research on the Epidemiology of Diasaters (CRED)

Emdat (International Disaster Database)

Swiss Re (insurance company)

Munich Re (insurance company)

Canadian Natural Hazrads Assessment Project 2003

World Bank

Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change

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Bam Earthquake

Popular tourist attraction in Iran with a population of 97,000

Suffers from earthquakes as the Arabian plate moves against the Eurasion plate, 3cm per year

  • December 26th 2006, 5.26am
  • 26,000 were killed 30,000 injured, because people were asleep and unaware
  • Large amounts of teachers and students were killed damaging the education system
  • 85-90% were damaged or destroyed, 75% of houses completely destroyed
  • Many died due to the poor building construction which caused dust and collapsed walls
  • Electricty and water supplies were cut
  • 29 after shocks
  • Red Cross appealed for $42million
  • 60 countries offered help
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Aremenian Earthquake

Arabian landmass is colliding with the Eurasian plate under Spitak.

  • 7th December 1988, 6.9 magnitude quake
  • Inadequate buildings, winter temperatures and poor siol comdtions led to severe destruction
  • The UN recorded economic losses of $14.2billion
  • 500,000 were  made homeless
  • It cost £3billion to repair damaged property
  • 111 countries gave humanitarian aid
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San Francisco Earthquake

San Fran. is on the San Adreas fault line in California.

  • 17th October 1989 at 5.00am 
  • 63 died in North Califronia
  • 3700 injured
  • 12,00 were said to be homeless
  • Landslide were caused
  • $6billion property damage
  • Airports were closed
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Chile Earthquake

Chile has experienced more than 40 earthquakes 6 or higher in the last 2years.

  • 27th February 2010, 3:00am
  • 8.8 magnitude earthquake
  • $30billion in damage
  • Phone connections were cut off
  • 370,000 home were destroyed
  • Burst pipeline compromised water supplies
  • New Alert Technology from 2011
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Human Factors affecting disaster frequency and mag

Population growth

More people means more people are at risk and vulnerable. Especially on coastal areas. Urbanisation and megacities.


Lack of management, warning and support leaves poor people helpless

Technical Innovation

Allows people to live in disaster prone areas. 

Economic growth

The more infrastructure built and money invested the greater the impact to the area, as there is more to loose and damage.

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Plate Boundaries

Destructive Margin
Oceanic crust is heavier and subducted below the continental plate. They are very destructive and form Tsunamis plus explosive volcanoes.

Constructive Margin
Two plates move away from eachother which froms new crust as the lava is pushed up. These occur in ocean fissures and form small earthquakes and not very explosive volcanoes.

Conservative Margin
Two plates move side ways past eachother so land is not made or destroyed. The plates can get stuck and when the pressure is released the jolt creates destructive earthquakes but no volcanoes.

Collision Margin
Two continental plates move towards eachother and collide. Neither sink so they are pushed up and form fold mountains. Rare volcanoes and destrcutive earthquakes are formed.

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Over 1/3 of the worlds surface is exposed to a level of drought. This include 70% of the worlds people and agricultural value.


  • Variations in the inter-tropical convergance zone (ITCZ).
  • El Nino brings changes in rainfall patterns.
  • Changes in mid-latitude depression tracks.


  • Failure of crops and livestock production. 
  • Economic impacts fro exporting goods
  • Damages water-related businesses in developed countries
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Australia Drought

2006 the worst drought in 1000 years


  • Failed rainfalls 
  • Record high temperatures


  • Cut ecnomic growth frm 1.9% to 1.15%
  • Food prices increased
  • Less than 50% of water storages remain in major cities


  • Water restriction
  • Use of 'grey water' and desalinisation
  • £585mn given to 70,000 farmers affected
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Flooding is evident in 33% of the worlds area which is inhabitied by over 80% of its population.


  • Excessive rainfall including cyclones, monsoon rainfall and storms.
  • Thunderstorms can cause flash flooding.
  • El Nino devasted Mozambique in 1997 and 2006.
  • Rapid snowmelt and swollen rivers.


  • Drowning and disease, expecially in developing countries.
  • Disrupts infrastructure and creates high insurance costs
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This includes cyclones, storms and tornadoes. Tropical cyclones and hurricanes only occur in warm waters over 26oC.


  • Flooding and flash floods
  • Damaged to coastal infrastructure
  • Disrupts ecosystems and livestock
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More hazardous world

  • More hazards are recorded because of technology and the whole world being in contact, even remote area.
  • The news reports these hazards to the world which makes it seems like there are more.
  • There is now more to damage in the world now as there is more infrastructure and people.
  • There is a natural increase in some hazards.

Why are death tols decreasing?

  • Better understanding
  • More alert systems
  • Hazards drills
  • Better international responses

Increasing ecnomic costs? 

  • More materialistic society
  • More people to be affected
  • More people living in disaster zones
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Local hazards

1987 Hurricane South England

  • 13 died, 43 injured
  • 94mph winds
  • 2 firemen were killed
  • Caravan park was flattened 

11 Nov. 2008 Tornado UK

  • 12 mile route
  • Damaged property mainly by falling trees
  • Disrupted transport links
  • Flash floods

Kent earthquake

  • 4.3 magnitude
  • 200 emergency calls
  • No deaths but some serious injuries
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Local Hazard Management

Leigh Flood Barrier

  • 1981 to protect Tonbridge
  • £4million
  • Giant reservoir
  • Updated in 2002 by the Envirnoment Agency, £1.4million
  • Saved hundreds from Oct. 2000 floods

Thames Flood Barrier

  • Mitigation to climate change and sea level rise until 2030
  • 10 gates 20m high
  • It protects £80billion worth of property
  • 1.25million people are protected
  • £525mn to build and £8mn every year
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California Case Study

  • Population of 40mn.
  • High risks from geological hazards as well as atmospheric hazards such as fog.
  • It is affected by El Nino
  • The San Andreas fault runs straight through the state
  • 3.5mn live in poverty
  • One of the most desirable places to live in the USA
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California Landslides and Wildfires


  • January 10th 2005, La Conchita landslide was the second in less than 10 years
  • 10 people were killed


October 2007

  • 1500 homes destroyed
  • 9 died 85 injured
  • 6000 firefighters to stop it

Summer 2008

  • 2700 individual fires
  • Started by dry thunderstorms
  • Economic loss of $1billion
  • 1 died
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California Flooding and Earthquakes


  • Scramento valley 2006-7
  • 4000 people were displaces
  • $245mn in damage


1989 San Francisco 17th October

  • 7.1 earthquake with epicentre in Loma Prienta
  • 5.2 aftershock
  • 63 died
  • 1000 homes were destroyed

1994 Los Angeles 17th January

  • 6.7 magnitude with 4-5 magnitude aftershocks
  • 57 died and over 1500 were seriously injured
  • 9000 homes and businesses were without power and 48,500 people without water
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California Fog/Smog and Drought


  • Air pollution from the huge amount of people
  • Terrain and topography traps pollution
  • In 2010 there were 132 smog days and 37 red -alert days


  • In 2009 people were urged to cut water consumption by 20%
  • Water systems were built when there was 18million people, now there are more than 40million
  • Could cost $3billion if there are 3 years below average rainfall
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El Nino and La Nina

El Nino --> flooding 
La Nina --> forest fires and drought

It is a 7 year cycle where in El Nino air currents move eastwards across the Pacific (S.America). In La Nina moist air move to Australia and the western Pacific.

California is affected by torential rains, floods and landslides in El Nino years.

The state suffers drough and forst fires in La Nina years

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Philippines Case Study

Population of 91million and in Manila 2000 people km2
Population growth is 2.3% a year


  • Earthquakes
    1990 1700 deaths and cost £300million.
  • Volcanoes
    17 active. Mt Pinatuba caused 58,000 evacuated and 350 deaths.
  • Landslides
  • Lahars
  • Typhoons
    4-9 a year. Average death tol 529. £900million per year.
  • Flooding
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Philippines Earthquake

Luzon earthquake 1990 16th July

  • 7.7 damaging over 20,000sq/km
  • 1620 deaths
  • $500million
  • FETP helped indicate risk factors for the future
  • In the first 48 hours locals, miners and students helped clear the rubble

Moro Gulf Tsunami 1976 16th August

  • In the top 5 worst
  • 8000 deaths
  • Occurred at night so people were not prepared
  • 700km of coastline destroyed
  • Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC)  issed a warning to other islands
  • Aid response from USA
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Climate change

Any long term trend or shift in climate detected by a sustained shift in the average value for any climatic event.

Geological - long term
Historical - medium term
Recent - short term

Greenhouse gases

  • Carbon dioxide - when carbon is burnt, slash and burn techniques and using fossil fuels
  • Nitrous oxide - burning fossil fuels and using large amounts of fertilisers
  • Methane - rice production and livestock

The greenhouse gases have always been here, and fluctuate naturally. The enhanced greenhouse effect is the effect human activity has by increasing the rate at which they are being produced into the atmosphere. This speeds up global warming. 

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Evidence of climate change

Ice cores
Greenland and Antarctic ice cores. Trapped air bubbles inside the ice can be analysed and the CO2 concentrations can be found.

Pollen analysis
Pollen produced by plants xan be extracted from sediment cores and lake beds. This can tell us how ecosystems have changed in response to climate change.

Tree rings - dendrochronology 
Trees are sensitive to temperature, sunlight and rainfall. In warm years the rings are wide and visa versa in cold years.

Painting and written accounts
These can illustrate what the climate was like. Quite unreliable.

Glacial retreat
Glaciers change in repsonse to climate change so maps and photos can be used to measure the differences. 

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Natural causes of climate change

Variation in solar output over time. The more spots the higher the radiation output, the warmer the earth is.

Major eruptions, eg Mt Pinatubo 1991 and Tambora 1815, produce large amounts of sulphur dioxide and ash, which enter the atmosphere. This refects the solar energy reducing the warmth the earth gets, reducing temperatures.

Milankovitch cycles
The earths orbit change shape from circular to eliptical. This changes how close the earth is to the sun and therefore how much radiation it gets. This can causes increasing or reducing temperatures.

Earths axis
Also when the earth is at a different angle the hemispheres will recieve different amount of heat.

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Sea level rises

Localised and relative change in sea level caused by the crusts response to loading and unloading of ice.

World wide changes in sea level caused by glacial and interglacial periods.

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Tuvalu - adapting to climate change

Small island state in Pacific ocean. In 2005 the popualtion was 10,500 over nine islands, none of which are more than 5m above sea level. If the sea level rises the islands will be flooded. The economy relies on semi-subsistance farming, fishing and foreign aid.

  • In 2001 Australia agreed to accept 75 a year from the islands as envronmental refugees until 2050.
  • Joined the UN in 2000 to put forward the fight against climate change to other countries
  • Beach mining has been regulated to reduce erosion

It is a developing nation with a GDP of $12million only.

IPCC predict as small sea level rise of 18-59cm much of the islands will become uninhabitable.

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Egypt, The Netherlands and Bangladesh


Local subsistance exacerbates the impact of rising seas. A 1m rise and 15% of habitable land will be lost affecting 7million people

The Netherlands

One of the richest countries in the world. Over 50% of lowlands are below sea level. Dykes and sand dunes are protecting the densely populated area. A 1m sea level rise would cost over $12,000million to defend.


140million people beset by poverty in the country and 1million are displaced every year. 80% of the delta is at huge risk from the sea rises and 1m rise would innundate 15% of the land. People need to move which is hard as 90% of the land is cultivated.

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Climate change impacts on the oceans

Changing salinity
The thermohaline circulation is the flow of warm and cold water that cirulates arounf the worlds oceans. Warm water is in the Gulf Stream. Freshwater from melting ice sheets cools the water and decreases the density of the ocean, which slows the global conveyer belt. 

Increasing river flow
Warmer surface air temperatures increase river flow as there is less time they are frozen. This causes significant increase in freshwater flowing into the Arctic, which can shut off the North Atlantic Drift.

Changes in polar oceans
The Antarctic ocean is one of the major carbon sinks as it is cold and dense. The sink have stayed the same since 1981 showing that no more is being absorbed. Also increasing sea temperatures warms the water and reduces the effectiveness of the sinks. 

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Arctic Case Study

Captures greenhouse gases in plants and permafrost, 11% of soil carbon.
NASA reported a 14% decrease in sea ice between 2004-05

Albedo - is the amount of solar radiation reflected by the earths surfaces, mostly by ice. 

Feedback - effects that either amplify or dimish the change.

Positive feedback
This is ice and snow which raise surface albedo. This results in cooling of the earth.

Negative feedback
For example cloud cover which traps heat out of the atmosphere and diminish the effect of global warming

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Arctic impacts

Arctic temperatures are increasing faster than anywhere else.
Stornglaciern lost 29% of its mass between 1910-1980

Indigenous people
Innuit, Saami, Yakut 


  • Rising temperatures have spread parasites, which has reduced salmon in the Yukan river
  • More storm are causing more erosion
  • Glaciers are in rapid retreat
  • Polar bears are forced to feed in towns as ice melts
  • Spruce barks are being killed by beetles that used to be killed in cold winters


  • Gas and oil reserves in fields are more accessible
  • Trade routes open for longer in the year
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Arctic Impacts cont.


  • Loss of hunting culture and food for indigenous people
  • Animals need to change migration routes]
  • Increased access for shipping
  • 24 innuit villages at threat from flooding

Fish stocks and polar bears

  • Lakes and river may drain killing freshwater fish
  • Less hunting time for bears
  • Highly sensitive ecosystems will suffer at UV increase


  • Melting ice
  • Vegetation zones will shift
  • Tundra ecosystems lost
  • Increase in forest fires
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Africa Case Study

2/3 of the countries in Africa are amoungst the poorest in the world.
34% of people aged 16-24 are illiterate.

Between 1990-1999 Africa only contributed 2.5% to global warming.

  • 0.5oC warmer than1900
  • 1980-1996 showed lower than average rainfall, leading to use of dirty water
  • 2007 UNEP said 14 African countries were suffering from water scarcity, 11 more by 2032
  • Many large river like the Nile are internationally shared causing water wars
  • Subsaharan Africa estimated to lose 20% of crops
  • Malaria in South Africa is said to double, 5.2 million people at risk
  • Malaria is now spreading to higher altitudes like Mt Kenya
  • Crowded contions like in Ethiopia due to Somalian refugees, spread of diease
  • NIgeria floods have displaced 2million people (National Emergency Management Agency)
  • 5.3million Eritreans are starving
  • 20-50% of species in Africa could be lost due to global warming
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Adapting to climate change - mitigation

Mitigation - to make the effects less harmful by reducing the impacts


  • Will not waste time
  • Carbon sinks can be achieved eg afforestation
  • Encourages cleaner fuels and renewable energy


  • People in developed countries may refuse to switch to cleaner fuels
  • Cutting emissions slows economic growth
  • It will take time to get everyone to co-operate
  • May be expensive
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Adapting to climate change - adaptation

Adaptation - trying to cope with changing climate not prevent it


  • Management can be done now
  • Greenhouse gases are already in the atmosphere so they will continue to warm the earth
  • Econimc growth will always cause greenhouse gases


  • Wastes time and doesn't fix the problem
  • It will be expensive
  • People don't want to change
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UNEP adaptation strategies

Bear the loss
Costs are absorbed and paid

Share the loss
Relief is provided by governments, aid agencies and insurers

Develop new technology

Change behaviour
Educate people on upcoming problems

Investigate the problems and solutions 

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Kyoto protocol

An international agreement set on reducing emissions fro industrial countries. Overall traget was to reduce gas emissions by 5% per country by 2008-12


  • Germany reduced emission by 19.4% between 1990-2002
  • UK reduced greenhouse gases by 12.4% 1990-2000
  • Countries can trade emissions or invest in carbon sinks


  • USA did not sign the agreement, they produce 25% of greenhouse gases
  • Autralia, 2nd biggest pollluter, did not sign either
  • NICs didn't have to participate, this included China who have increased emission by 50% since 1990
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Bali Action Plan 2007

International adaptation scheme fromulated by the UN.The idea was to provide sustainable financial resources and additional resources for developing countries to help them adapt to climate change.


  • Includes mitigation targets as well
  • Response and risk reduction strategies
  • Vulnerabilty assessments


  • It could cost from $4-109 billion a year
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Bangladesh adaptation

One of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Monsoon rains cause flooding and the delta is home to many people. Suffers severe cyclones and storms.

2009 Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan was formed. Mitigates three main threats, floods, storms and drought.

National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) 2005 identified 15 priority activities.

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Beddington Zero Energy Development

BedZed id the UKs largest carbon neutral development, in Hackney London. There are 82 affordable homes with offices and greenspace, built on a brownfield site.

  • 777m2 of solar panels
  • Double glazed windows keep heat in
  • Uses rain water and recycled water
  • Renewable materials were used to build in from the air


  • 57% less hot water consumption from 2003
  • Electrical power used is 25% the UK average, 11% produced by solar panels
  • 65% less car mileage


  • The biomass wood chip boiler doesn't work
  • Water wasn't cleaned properly after recycling
  • Still living at an eco footprint of 1.7 planets, not 1.0 the target
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International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

World Conference 2005 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan

Develop new eco-friendly and green straegies to work with nature
Renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, conservation 

Provide solutions that everyone can access
Technology for the poor, extra aid, climate change solutions

Community solutions
Appropriate technology, bottom up schemes, high level of local involvement

More efficient use of resources
Energy efficient transport, construction, industry and waste management 

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