Description of the Project
"Assessment of Research and Applications on Natural Hazards"

Dennis S. Mileti
Professor and Co-Director
Natural Hazards Center
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO, USA


The project is designed to summarize, assess and evaluate knowledge in all fields of the physical, natural, social, and behavioral sciences and engineering regarding natural and related technological hazards and disasters. The assessment is divided into three parts: review the past, take stock of and integrate the present, and create a future. Currently, over 100 experts have been recruited from varied fields, universities, and agencies and are working on specialized project parts, nine experts have taken on subgroup leadership roles, and five graduate students are employed and plan project-related dissertations. Experts are still being added.

The Past

The last 20 years, and its historical context where applicable, is being reviewed to explore the thesis that our nation and its communities are becoming more brittle and susceptible to disaster losses, to explain why, and to document the basis for a change in future direction. We are reviewing significant disaster events, synthesizing and analyzing loss data, exploring data on expenditures for mitigation, pointing out data gaps to fill for a national baseline needed to track change, and updating the disaster scenarios posed in the 1975 assessment. We are addressing the reasons for increased susceptibility, e.g., population and climate change, globalization of economic and social systems, and others. We are also reviewing the last 20 years to trace the evolution of hazards policy, institutional, and organizational arrangements.

The Present

Subgroups of experts have been organized to integrate and synthesize knowledge across applicable hazards and disciplines regarding individual mitigations, e.g., land use and planning; emergency planning and response; engineering, codes, standards, and practices, and so on. Subgroups will also create a research agenda for the future, and estimate the applicability of each mitigation to foster long-term sustainability in terms of resiliency from disaster losses, maintaining a local economy and ecosystem, and so on. Eventually, these mitigation-specific integrations will themselves be integrated to create integrated mitigation management as a tool useful for local decision making. Subgroups are now in different stages of development and work.

The Future

We are currently cataloguing and evaluating new tools and approache that have emerged over the last 20 years and estimating their place in the future, for example, risk analysis, computer-assisted decision information systems, and many others. We will eventually bring all research recommendations together into a catalogue of needed future research. We will also develop a vehicle for measuring and defining local acceptable risk, and we will investigate and make recommendations about how to interest and then involve local stakeholders in using integrated mitigation management based on those local definitions.

Societal Aspects of Weather

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