The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Identifying Natural Hazards

Jay Stansell - Friday, April 01, 2011

Natural disasters have been in the news a lot already this year.  What with floods and cyclones in Queensland, earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, and big bushfires in Western Australia, it seems we’re never far from some natural disaster. 

In thinking about natural disasters, it is also important that we recognize the natural hazards that contribute to them.

Natural hazards are those hazards that are created through the natural processes occurring on Planet Earth. 

They are the natural forms of energy that have the potential to cause harm to us individually or as a society.  They are often extremely powerful sources of energy, often very unpredictable, and often very hard to manage. 

Examples of natural energy hazards include:

»            Ambient temperature (related to radiation energy from sunlight or heat from the ground and arctic conditions);

»            Volcano including heat, high noise levels, flying debris and hazardous substances (e.g., toxic gases); »            Earthquake, rock-falls, mud-slides, land-slips, and avalanche;

»            Lightning strike (naturally-occurring electricity);

»            Flowing water energy including storm-surge, tidal wave, Tsunami, sea-rips, and river overflow;

»            Wind energy such as cyclones or tornado’s;

»            Meteor strike; and

»            Naturally-occurring fires.

Natural hazards and the incidents they create have the capacity to cause massive amounts of damage and devastation.  Recent examples include:

»            Hurricane Katrina destroys the Louisiana Gulf Coast and Floods New Orleans (USA, 2005);

»            Boxing day, 2004 – Tsunami destroys large parts of SE Asia and Ceylon and kills in excess of 100,000 people.

»            Haiti Earthquake, 2010 – over 200,000 lives lost when magnitude 7 quake hits Port-Au-Prince.

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