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Natural Hazards

Special feature: Volcanoes


What is the EU doing to help us understand volcanoes and volcanic activity?

We've created a page with links to a few places on the Research web site where you can find out more about EU research related to volcanoes.

The challenge

Human communities – through history or recent events – have always had to face natural hazards generating disasters with loss of lives and significant damage. Demographic pressure, inadequate land use or environmental mismanagement and climate change have unfortunately boosted the vulnerability of populations who are increasingly living in higher-risk areas. Disaster reduction has been a world challenge since the UN International Decade for Natural Disasters Reduction (1990–2000) and its follow-up Hyogo Action Plan (2005–15).

In Europe, frequent floods, forest fires, storms, drought, landslides and earthquakes remind us that our efforts need to be sustained in order to better understand and assess the phenomenon and processes, and to enable improved prevention/mitigation strategies and actions to be implemented.

Research history and policy relevance

The EU has supported multi-national and interdisciplinary research in the field of natural hazards since the late 1980s addressing mainly climate- and geological-related hazards such as floods, landslides, avalanches, forest fires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. EU research has enabled methods and technologies to be developed for improved hazard assessment, forecasting and monitoring, management and mitigation. The Sixth Framework Programme (2003–06) focused on a more holistic approach in which ‘hazard-vulnerability-risk’ assessment were addressed in an integrated manner with the aim of mitigating the environmental, social and economic effects of natural disasters. Where relevant, in particular for floods, research took into account policy developments (Water Framework Directive, Flood Directive) as well as the overall climate variability and potential impacts in the development of new management concepts.

Advances have also been made in the area of seismic research in the fields of: design of earthquake-resistant structures, early warning, tsunami-related research; forest- fire behaviour modelling and hazard mapping; landslide and avalanche monitoring and mitigation techniques. Efforts to enhance dissemination and educational perspectives formed part of the actions undertaken, being of direct interest to civil protection activities and relevant stakeholders.

Natural hazards in FP7

A sub-activity of the ‘Climate change, pollution and risks’ activity, in FP7, natural hazards research will consider a robust and comprehensive framework that supports individual hazards and multi-hazards research and the integration of the risk-reduction chain. This includes: research on individual hazards, on exposure and vulnerability assessment and on a thorough risk-analysis assessment. Particular attention will also be given to the multi-risk dimension. This approach is necessary for risk management as well as for developing prevention and mitigation strategies.

Four priorities areas have been identified and represent the reference basis in the yearly calls:

  • hazard assessment, triggering factors and forecasting
  • vulnerability assessment and societal impacts
  • risk assessment and management
  • multi-risk evaluation and mitigation strategies

International Workshop: “Disaster Risk Reduction – Dialogue between scientists and stakeholders”

29-30 October 2009

posterClick the poster image on the left to see a larger version (PDF 1.4 MB) or the following link for more information on this event