Natural Hazards

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 139–153 | Cite as

The danger of mapping risk from multiple natural hazards

  • Baoyin Liu
  • Yim Ling Siu
  • Gordon Mitchell
  • Wei Xu
Original Paper


In recent decades, society has been greatly affected by natural disasters (e.g. floods, droughts, earthquakes), and losses and effects caused by these disasters have been increasing. Conventionally, risk assessment focuses on individual hazards, but the importance of addressing multiple hazards is now recognised. Two approaches exist to assess risk from multiple hazards: the risk index (addressing hazards, and the exposure and vulnerability of people or property at risk) and the mathematical statistics method (which integrates observations of past losses attributed to each hazard type). These approaches have not previously been compared. Our application of both to China clearly illustrates their inconsistency. For example, from 31 Chinese provinces assessed for multi-hazard risk, Gansu and Sichuan provinces are at low risk of life loss with the risk index approach, but high risk using the mathematical statistics approach. Similarly, Tibet is identified as being at almost the highest risk of economic loss using the risk index, but lowest risk under the mathematical statistics approach. Such inconsistency should be recognised if risk is to be managed effectively, whilst the practice of multi-hazard risk assessment needs to incorporate the relative advantages of both approaches.


Multi-hazard risk assessment Risk index Mathematical statistics Economic loss Human life loss 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baoyin Liu
    • 1
  • Yim Ling Siu
    • 1
  • Gordon Mitchell
    • 2
  • Wei Xu
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Earth and EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.School of GeographyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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