News Archive

posted 09/24/05

Mapping the Risks of Hurricane Disasters

Gulf Coast Cyclone Risk Map

Hurricane Risk Map for the Northern and Western U.S. Gulf Coast. (A hurricane is a cyclone that occurs in the North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific.)

Click the image above to download the full-size map (PDF 5.1MB)

The Natural Disaster Hotspots report released earlier this year showed that the U.S. Gulf Coast is among the world's most at-risk regions in terms of human mortality and economic loss due to storms like Katrina and Rita.

The study, which was produced by researchers from the Center for Hazards and Risk Research, The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI), the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the World Bank, estimated risk levels by combining hazard exposure with historical vulnerability for two indicators of elements at risk—gridded population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per unit area—for six major natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, drought and cyclones (which are called hurricanes in the North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific).

By calculating relative risks for each grid cell rather than for countries as a whole, the study was able to estimate risk levels at sub-national scales. Such information can help inform a range of disaster prevention and preparedness measures, including prioritization of resources, targeting of more localized and detailed risk assessments, implementation of risk-based disaster management and emergency response strategies, and development of long-term land-use plans and multihazard risk management strategies.

Download the cyclone risk map for the northern and western U.S. Gulf Coast. (PDF 5.1MB)

For more information about Natural Disaster Hotspots:

Hotspots Reseach at the Center for Hazards and Risk Research

For more maps created by the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) at CIESIN regarding the regions struck by Katrina and Rita:

Gulf Coast Hurricane Maps from SEDAC

For more information about the Earth Institute affiliates involved in producing Natural Disaster Hotspots:

Center for Hazards and Risk Research (CHRR)

International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI)

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world's leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines — earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences — and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world's poor. For more information, visit www.earth.columbia.edu.