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Analysis of Weather- and Climate-Related Disasters in Mountain Regions Using Different Disaster Databases

  • Anina Stäubli
  • Samuel U. Nussbaumer
  • Simon K. Allen
  • Christian Huggel
  • María Arguello
  • Felipe Costa
  • Christian Hergarten
  • Rodney Martínez
  • Jaime Soto
  • Ruben Vargas
  • Eduardo Zambrano
  • Markus Zimmermann
Chapter
Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)

Abstract

Mountains are fragile ecosystems with global importance, providing key ecosystems services within mountainous areas but also for the lowlands. However, mountain regions are prone to natural disasters and exposed to multiple hazards. In this chapter, we present four disaster databases (EM-DAT, NatCatSERVICE, DesInventar, Dartmouth) that store information about spatiotemporal occurrence and impacts of natural disasters in mountain areas. Quality and completeness of the four databases are compared and analyzed regarding reliability for weather- and climate-related natural disasters. The analysis identifies the numbers of fatalities as the most reliable loss parameters, whereby the number of people affected and the economic loss are less trustworthy and highly dependent on the purposes of each database. Main limitations regarding sustainable mountain development are the inhomogeneity in database definitions, spatial resolutions, database purposes and lack of data registration for human and economic losses. While some individual disasters such as the Kedarnath flood in northern India in 2013 have been robustly linked to changes in climate, there is generally insufficient evidence to attribute any overall increasing disaster frequency to climate change. Damage due to hazard in mountain regions will increase irrespective of global warming, in regions where populations are growing and infrastructure is developed at exposed locations.

Keywords

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) Disaster databases Weather- and climate-related disasters Mountain regions Sustainable mountain development 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Holger Frey for carefully reviewing the manuscript and for providing valuable input. Further, we would like to thank Petra Löw from Munich RE for the provision of data from the NatCatSERVICE database and for helpful discussion. We also thank Regina Below from the EM-DAT database for providing disaster data and for her explanatory notes. Thanks are also due to Sue McStea for English proofreading. This chapter is a contribution to the Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change (SMD4GC) programme that is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anina Stäubli
    • 1
    • 2
  • Samuel U. Nussbaumer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Simon K. Allen
    • 1
  • Christian Huggel
    • 1
  • María Arguello
    • 4
    • 5
  • Felipe Costa
    • 6
  • Christian Hergarten
    • 7
  • Rodney Martínez
    • 6
  • Jaime Soto
    • 8
  • Ruben Vargas
    • 9
  • Eduardo Zambrano
    • 6
  • Markus Zimmermann
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Natural HazardsBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  4. 4.CONDESANLimaPeru
  5. 5.CONDESANQuitoEcuador
  6. 6.Climate Services DepartmentCentro Internacional para la Investigación del Fenómeno de El Niño (CIIFEN)GuayaquilEcuador
  7. 7.University of Central Asia (UCA), Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI)BishkekKyrgyz Republic
  8. 8.Escuela Latinoamericana de Desarrollo Local Sostenible y Resiliente (ELADES)SantiagoChile
  9. 9.Risk Management ConsultantPanama CityPanama
  10. 10.Institute of Geography, University of BernBernSwitzerland

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