Asteroid Impact Risk Assessment: Rationalizing the Threat

  • Clemens M. RumpfEmail author
Part of the Space and Society book series (SPSO)


The asteroid impact hazard is difficult to conceive in the context of everyday human life. Large-scale impact events of global or regional consequences might not happen for generations, but the consequences in the event of an impact can far surpass those of other natural disasters. In this chapter, statistical methods are employed to express the asteroid hazard in terms that are accessible for the human perspective and that allow the hazard to be placed into context with other natural disasters. In addition to the description of the overall hazard situation in statistical terms, the chapter describes the current means of communicating asteroid impact threat levels of discovered asteroids, such as the Torino and Palermo scales, and introduces a new impact threat scale coined the Southampton Asteroid Hazard Scale. Initially, the chapter introduces the asteroid population in terms of its size and which of its portions have been discovered to date. Subsequently, the statistics of impact angle, speed and location, which drive impact consequences, are presented. The size-dependent portions of the asteroid population that are especially hazardous for the human population are identified based on a statistical assessment of the relevant parameter space.


Asteroid impact Risk analysis Fatalities Disaster management Hazard scale Statistics 



The work was supported by the Marie Curie Initial Training Network Stardust, FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN, Grant Agreement 317185. The author acknowledges the use of the IRIDIS High Performance Computing Facility at the University of Southampton. Many of the results and concepts in this chapter have been produced as part of a PhD thesis (Rumpf 2016). As such, the author is thankful to his supervisors Hugh Lewis and Peter Atkinson for many fertilizing and fruitful discussions. Thanks to David Morrison for reviewing this chapter and helping improve its quality.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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