Natural Hazards

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 503–532 | Cite as

DISASTER: a GIS database on hydro-geomorphologic disasters in Portugal

  • J. L. Zêzere
  • S. Pereira
  • A. O. Tavares
  • C. Bateira
  • R. M. Trigo
  • I. Quaresma
  • P. P. Santos
  • M. Santos
  • J. Verde
Original Paper


In the last century, Portugal was affected by several natural disasters of hydro-geomorphologic origin that often caused high levels of destruction. However, data on past events related to floods and landslides were scattered. The Disaster project aims to bridge the gap on the availability of a consistent and validated hydro-geomorphologic database for Portugal, by creating, disseminating and exploiting a GIS database on disastrous floods and landslides for the period 1865–2010, which is available in Data collection is steered by the concept of disaster used within the Disaster project. Therefore, any hydro-geomorphologic case is stored in the database if the occurrence led to casualties or injuries, and missing, evacuated or homeless people, independently of the number of people affected. The sources of information are 16 national, regional and local newspapers that implied the analysis of 145,344 individual newspapers. The hydro-geomorphologic occurrences were stored in a database containing two major parts: the characteristics of the hydro-geomorphologic case and the corresponding damages. In this work, the main results of the Disaster database are presented. A total of 1,621 disastrous floods and 281 disastrous landslides were recorded and registered in the database. These occurrences were responsible for 1,251 dead people. The obtained results do not support the existence of any exponential increase in events in time, thus contrasting with the picture provided to Portugal by the Emergency Events Database. Floods were more frequent during the period 1936–1967 and occurred mostly from November to February. Landslides were more frequent in the period 1947–1969 and occurred mostly from December to March.


Disaster project Database Floods Landslides Portugal 



This research was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through the project DISASTER—GIS database on hydro-geomorphologic disasters in Portugal: a tool for environmental management and emergency planning (PTDC/CS-GEO/103231/2008). S. Pereira is a Post-Doc fellow funded by FCT (SFRH/BPD/69002/2010). M. Santos is a PhD fellow funded by FCT (SFRH/BD/70239/2010).


  1. Alcántara-Ayala I (2002) Geomorphology, natural hazards, vulnerability and prevention of natural disasters in developing countries. Geomorphology 47:107–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander D (2000) Confronting catastrophe. Terra Publishing, Harpenden, HertfordshireGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnolas M, Llasat MC (2007) A flood geodatabase and its climatological applications: the case of Catalonia for the last century. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 7:271–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Below R, Wirtz A, Guha-Sapir D (2009) Disaster category classification and peril terminology for operational purposes. Common accord Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) and Munich Reinsurance Company (Munich RE). Working Paper 264, UCLGoogle Scholar
  5. Devoli G, Strauch W, Chávez G, Hoeg K (2007) A landslide database for Nicaragua: a tool for landslide-hazard management. Landslide 4(2):163–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dore M, Etkin D (2000) The importance of measuring the social costs of natural disasters at a time of climate change. Aust J Emerg Manag 15(3):46–51Google Scholar
  7. ECDGE (2008) Member States’ approaches towards prevention policy—a critical analysis. Report. European Commission DG Environment, COWIGoogle Scholar
  8. EM-DAT (2013) The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database——Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium. Accessed June 2013
  9. European Commission—Eurostat (2013) Accessed Nov 2013
  10. Evans SG (1997) Fatal landslides and landslide risk in Canada. In: Cruden D, Fell R (eds) Landslide risk assessment. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 185–196Google Scholar
  11. Fell R, Ho K, Lacasse S, Leroi E (2005) A framework for landslide risk assessment and management. In: Hungr O, Fell P, Couture R, Eberhardt E (eds) Landslide risk management. Taylor & Francis Group, London, pp 3–25Google Scholar
  12. Ferreira AB, Zêzere JL (1997) Portugal and the Portuguese Atlantic Islands. In: Embleton C, Embleton-Hamann C (eds) Geomorphological hazards of Europe, developments in Earth surface processes, vol 5. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 391–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guha-Sapir D, Below R (2006) Collecting data on disasters: easier said than done. Asian Disaster Manag News 12(2):9–10Google Scholar
  14. Guha-Sapir D, Vos F (2011) Quantifying global environmental change impacts: methods, criteria and definitions for compiling data on hydro-meteorological disasters. In: Brauch HG et al (eds) Coping with global environmental change, disasters and security, hexagon series on human and environmental security and peace, vol 5. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  15. Gupta AK, Nair SS, Sehgal VK (2009) Hydro-meteorological disasters and climate change: conceptual issues and data needs for integrating adaptation into environment—development framework. J Earth Sci India 2(II):117–132Google Scholar
  16. Guzzetti F (2000) Landslide fatalities and the evaluation of landslide risk in Italy. Eng Geol 58:89–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guzzetti F, Tonelli G (2004) Information system on hydrological and geomorphological catastrophes in Italy (SICI): a tool for managing landslide and flood hazards. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 4:213–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guzzetti F, Stark CP, Salvati P (2005) Evaluation of flood and landslide risk to the population of Italy. Environ Manage 36(1):15–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hervás J (ed) (2003) Lessons learnt from landslides disasters in Europe. Nedies Project, Joint Research Centre, European CommissionGoogle Scholar
  20. IDNDR (International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction) (1995) The Yokohama strategy and plan of action for a safer world. World conference on natural disaster reduction, Yokohama, 1994Google Scholar
  21. ISDR (2009) The UNISDR terminology on disaster risk reduction. United Nations, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  22. Jonkman SN (2005) Global perspectives on loss of human life caused by floods. Nat Hazards 34:151–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. La Red (2003) Guía metodológica de DesInventar, La Red de Estudios Sociales en Prevención de Desastres en América Latina, La Red, LimaGoogle Scholar
  24. Liberato MLR, Ramos A, Trigo RM, Trigo IF, Durán-Quesada AM, Nieto R, Gimeno L (2013) Moisture sources and large-scale dynamics associated with a flash flood event. In: Lin J, Brunner D, Gerbig C, Stohl A, Luhar A, Webley P (eds) Lagrangian modeling of the atmosphere. American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  25. Lorente P, Hernández E, Queralt S, Ribera P (2008) The flood event that affected Badajoz in November 1997. Adv Geosci 16:73–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maaskant B, Jonkman SN, Bouwer LM (2009) Future risk of flooding: an analysis of changes in potential loss of life in South Holland (The Netherlands). Environ Sci Policy 12:157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mai CV, Phajm G, Vrijling JK, Mai TC (2008) Risk analysis of coastal flood defenses—a Vietnam case. 4th International symposium on flood defence: managing flood risk, reliability and vulnerability, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, pp 931–938Google Scholar
  28. MAOTDR (Ministério do Ambiente, do Ordenamento do Território e do Desenvolvimento Regional) (2006) Programa Nacional da Política de Ordenamento Do Território, Programa de Acção, Fevereiro 2006, LisboaGoogle Scholar
  29. McInnes R (2006) Responding to the risks from climate change in coastal zones. A good practice guide. LIFE Environment project ‘Response'—’Responding to the risks from climate change'Google Scholar
  30. Morgan GC (1997) A regulatory perspective on slope hazards and associated risks to life. In: Cruden D, Fell R (eds) Landslide risk assessment. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 285–295Google Scholar
  31. NRCNA (2006) Facing hazards and disasters. Understanding human dimension. National Reseach Council of the National Academies. Ed Nac. Academies Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  32. Parry M, Canziani O, Palutikof J, Linden P, Hanson C (eds) (2007) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  33. Ramos C, Reis E (2002) Floods in southern Portugal: their physical and human causes, impacts and human response. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 7(3):267–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Salvati P, Bianchi C, Rossi M, Guzzetti F (2010) Societal landslide and flood risk in Italy. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 10(3):465–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Scheuren J-M, Polain de Waroux O, Below R, Guha-Sapir D (2008) Annual disaster statistical review. The numbers and trends 2007. CRED, ISDR, UCLGoogle Scholar
  36. Thywissen K (2006) Components of risk. A comparative glossary. SOURCE, Studies of the University: Research, Counsel, Education, Publication Series of UNU-EHS, no. 2, United Nations UniversityGoogle Scholar
  37. Tianchi L (1989) Landslides: extent and economic significance in China. In: Brabb EE, Harrod BL (eds) Landslides: extent and economic significance. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 271–287Google Scholar
  38. Tschoegl L, Below R, Guha-Sapir D (2006) An analytical review of selected data sets on natural disasters and impacts. March 2006. UNDP/CRED workshop on improving compilation of reliable data on disaster occurrence and impact. 2–4 April, Bangkok, ThailandGoogle Scholar
  39. Van Alphen J, Bourget L, Elliot C, Fujita K, Riedstra D, Rooke D, Tachi K (2011) Flood risk management approaches—as being practiced in Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States. IWR Report N 2011-R-08Google Scholar
  40. Wisner B, Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I (2004) At risk. Natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters, 2nd edn. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, LondonGoogle Scholar
  41. Wong HN, Ho KK, Chan YC (1997) Assessment of consequences of landslides. In: Cruden D, Fell R (eds) Landslide risk assessment. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 111–149Google Scholar
  42. Zêzere JL, Trigo R (2011) Impacts of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Landslides. In: Vicente-Serrano S, Trigo R (eds) Hydrological, socioeconomic and ecological impacts of the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Mediterranean Region, advances in global change research, vol 46, pp 199–212Google Scholar
  43. Zêzere JL, Trigo R, Trigo I (2005) Shallow and deep landslides induced by rainfall in the Lisbon region (Portugal): assessment of relationships with the North Atlantic Oscillation. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 5:331–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Zêzere
    • 1
  • S. Pereira
    • 1
  • A. O. Tavares
    • 2
  • C. Bateira
    • 3
  • R. M. Trigo
    • 4
  • I. Quaresma
    • 1
  • P. P. Santos
    • 2
  • M. Santos
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. Verde
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Geographical Studies, IGOT, Edifício da Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de LisboaUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Earth Sciences, Centre for Social StudiesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.CEGOTUniversity of OportoOportoPortugal
  4. 4.Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL)University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations