Unveiling Global Disaster Risk

Maps have the power not only to interpret, but to transform and create the landscape. Maps, indeed, can change the world.

Section 1
Maps that change the world

Risk is real. Disasters in any given time and place are a result of multiple causes and conditions; crystallisations of realised risk, when what are often implicit processes of risk accumulation suddenly become manifest. Although we cannot readily see risk, we can measure it and map it. The GAR Atlas facilitates a better understanding of the global risk landscape. It is the first of its kind that is non-proprietary, completely open and with multi-hazard global coverage.

The GAR Atlas can be considered an Atlas Major of global disaster risk. The GAR Atlas offers a framework for filling in what are still blank spaces on a world map of risk. Our current understanding of the global distribution and attributes of disaster risk are probably analogous to a 16th century world map. As better data and advanced modelling techniques come on stream, risk metrics will gradually become more accurate and currently unexplored facets of global risk will become visible.

Section 2
The world of disaster risk

Visualizing risk in a cartographic form is a way of making explicit the hidden veins of disaster risk. Only when disaster risk can be measured and can be made visible can it be properly managed.

The GAR Atlas gives us a sense of the overall scale, distribution and patterns of disaster risk, with a global level of observation and a national level of resolution. This Section of the GAR Atlas illustrates how direct disaster economic loss in the built environment is distributed across countries and territories by mapping the Annual Average Loss (AAL), a probabilistic risk metric which condenses the multiple interdependencies and complexities that configure disaster risk into a single numerical value.

Risk maps are presented for the world and for each region for specific hazards: earthquake, riverine flood, cyclonic wind and storm surge, and tsunami hazard for absolute AAL and AAL relative to the value of the capital stock.

Section 3
Disaster risk implications for social and economic development

All countries are faced with increasing levels of possible hidden costs and challenges in order to meet financial and other obligations, despite being industrialized, developing or a small island. The GAR Atlas integrates risk metrics obtained with the Global Risk Model with diverse financial and social indicators to highlight how disaster risk may have important implications on social and economic development. This section includes additional metrics that reflects how the potential losses can mean severe constraints on development and how contexts with high social, economic and environmental fragility may worsen the potential direct damages and impacts.

Section 4
Applications of the Global Risk Model

The GRM can provide a global framework for the development of more detailed risk models, using a similar methodology and higher-resolution data. Using the same “arithmetic”, risk due other hazards can be calculated such as the volcano ash risk in the Asian-Pacific region or including climate change scenarios in the cyclonic wind hazard. Even with the coarse grain resolution limitation, the GRM has proved capable of generating credible event scenarios in the same order of magnitude as reported losses in the case of a number of recent disasters as highlighted in this section with the Amatrice Earthquake 2016, the Gorka Earthquake 2015 and Matthew Hurricane 2016.

Section 5
Probabilistic hazard and risk assessment methodology

The basic premise of probability analysis is that more things might happen in the future than actually will happen. Probabilistic models simulate those future disasters which, based on scientific evidence, could possibly occur, reproducing the physics of the phenomena and recreating the intensity of a large number of simulated hazardous events. In doing so, they provide a more complete picture of the full spectrum of future potential losses than is possible with only historical data. The scientific data and knowledge used is still incomplete, meaning that all models have a degree of inherent uncertainty. However, provided that this uncertainty is recognised, probabilistic models can provide much better guidance on the likely order of magnitude of probable losses compared to projections from historical data.

The Application
G∀R for Tangible Earth

The GAR Atlas: Unveiling Global Disaster Risk is an augmented reality publication. It has been designed to be read and explored using an IOS or Android tablet. Most of the information contained in the GAR Atlas can only be accessed in this way.

 GfT is fun, educational, and empowering.

  • Download on App Store

  • Download on Google Play

  • Hazard and Risk profiles

    Detailed risk profile, including the absolute and relative Annual Average Loss (AAL) for multi-hazards and cyclonic-winds ; storm surges ; earthquakes ; riverine floods ; tsunamis, volcanos with multiples return-period.
    The information could be "mash-up" with exposure dataset, relatime earthquakes and clouds.

  • speech recognition (SR)

    It understands and carries out instructions and will also read information such as case studies for you. For example, simply press the button “SR”, and say “What’s new in Fiji” and press it back. Of course you can select any country or major cities you want, using this sentence: “What’s new in …”.
    In addition, the latest realtime disaster alerts are available on the GfT application through the GDACS “Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

  • Earth diary

    A range of case studies from the GAR series and beyond. And the Earth Diary provides the latest news published on Prevention Web, “serving the information needs of the disaster reduction community”.

  • Country profiles

    Detailed risk profile, including the absolute and relative Annual Average Loss (AAL), a Loss Exceedance Curve (LEC).
    Furthermore, additional information is provided on Average Annual Mortality for earthquakes, financing gaps as well as on the social, economic and environmental drivers of risk and resilience

The Risk Data Viewer

The risk data platform is a repository to share spatial data information on global risk from natural hazards. Users can easily visualize or download data from the latest Global Risk Model presented in the GAR Atlas.
In fact, the platform highlights the “World of disaster risk”, presenting for 5 major hazards (earthquake, riverine flood, cyclonic wind and storm surge, and tsunami) with the probabilistic risk metric of Annual Average losses. The “Disaster Risk implications” integrates risk metrics obtained with the Global Risk Model with diverse financial and social indicators to highlight how disaster risk may have important implications on social and economic development. Last but not least, users can visualize the probabilistic representation of the occurrence of hazardous events at different return periods.

All datasets are available for free for non-commercial purposes.

Exposed population [resolution 5km x 5km]