What are the world's disaster hotspots? Arthur Lerner-Lam, who we spoke with in last week's Seven Questions about global disasters, set out with a team from Columbia University and the World Bank to answer this in "Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis." They divided the world up into sub-national swathes of land and analyzed population and disaster data going back about thirty years for six disaster types: drought, flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides. For reasons of data accuracy and availability, the results are relative rather than absolute likelihoods that disasters will occur in various corners of the globe.
The study focuses on more significantly populated areas amounting to about half of the world's land area. It approaches loss as potential damage to that which is "valuable but vulnerable includ[ing] people, infrastructure, and environmentally important land uses." And what's more, based on data from a Brussels-based research center, the study hints that disaster frequency is increasing.
The following map shows mortality risk by disaster type. This isn't a comprehensive summary but rather a summary of the top at-risk areas. Those purple blips in central China sure have a lot more meaning in the aftermath of recent events.
This second map shows risk in terms of total economic loss based on disaster type.
And finally, the third map normalizes potential economic loss based on country GDP. Notice the migration of the top at-risk areas away from the more developed regions.