Few subjects have caught the attention of the entire world as
much as those dealing with natural hazards. The first decade of
this new millennium provides a litany of tragic examples of various
hazards that turned into disasters affecting millions of
individuals around the globe. The human losses (some 225,000
people) associated with the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and
tsunami, the economic costs (approximately 200 billion USD) of the
2011 Tohoku Japan earthquake, tsunami and reactor event, and the
collective social impacts of human tragedies experienced during
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 all provide repetitive reminders that we
humans are temporary guests occupying a very active and angry
planet. Any examples may have been cited here to stress the point
that natural events on Earth may, and often do, lead to disasters
and catastrophes when humans place themselves into situations of
Few subjects share the true interdisciplinary dependency that
characterizes the field of natural hazards. From geology and
geophysics to engineering and emergency response to social
psychology and economics, the study of natural hazards draws input
from an impressive suite of unique and previously independent
specializations. Natural hazards provide a common platform to
reduce disciplinary boundaries and facilitate a beneficial synergy
in the provision of timely and useful information and action on
this critical subject matter.
As social norms change regarding the concept of acceptable risk
and human migration leads to an explosion in the number of
megacities, coastal over-crowding and unmanaged habitation in
precarious environments such as mountainous slopes, the
vulnerability of people and their susceptibility to natural hazards
increases dramatically. Coupled with the concerns of changing
climates, escalating recovery costs, a growing divergence between
more developed and less developed countries, the subject of natural
hazards remains on the forefront of issues that affect all people,
nations, and environments all the time.
This treatise provides a compendium of critical, timely and very
detailed information and essential facts regarding the basic
attributes of natural hazards and concomitant disasters. The
"Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards" effectively captures and
integrates contributions from an international portfolio of almost
300 specialists whose range of expertise addresses over 330 topics
pertinent to the field of natural hazards. Disciplinary barriers
are overcome in this comprehensive treatment of the subject matter.
Clear illustrations and numerous color images enhance the primary
aim to communicate and educate. The inclusion of a series of unique
classic case study events interspersed throughout the volume
provides tangible examples linking concepts, issues, outcomes and
solutions. These case studies illustrate different but notable
recent, historic and prehistoric events that have shaped the world
as we now know it. They provide excellent focal points linking the
remaining terms in the volume to the primary field of study. This
"Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards" will remain a standard reference
of choice for many years.
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