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Natural Disaster Definition

Disasters cause a community to experience major setbacks to its capacity to function that is greater than what it can manage. Disasters can be caused by natural, manmade, and technical dangers and other factors influencing a population's exposure and vulnerability.

When a natural danger occurs and seriously impacts a community, it is called a "natural disaster." Natural disasters frequently result in economic destruction and the potential loss of life or property. The populace's resilience and the infrastructure's state will determine how much damage is done. Coastal flooding, earthquakes, hailstorms, heat waves, hurricanes (tropical cyclones), landslides, lightning, riverine flooding, high winds, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, wildfires, and winter weather are a few examples of natural hazards.

It can be challenging to distinguish between manmade, natural, and man-accelerated disasters nowadays. Architecture, fire, resource management, and even climate change are a few examples of human decisions and actions that might cause "natural calamities.

Natural disasters can worsen by inadequate construction regulations, prejudice towards certain populations, inequalities, resource abuse, excessive urban expansion, and climate change. The world's population is rapidly growing, and as a result, the frequency and intensity of disasters have increased-often in dangerous situations. Deforestation, uncontrolled expansion, tropical climatic instability, and unstable landforms contribute to disaster-prone areas' vulnerability. Due to inadequate information and finance for disaster management and prevention, natural catastrophes are more or less repeated in developing countries.

A bad event won't be a disaster if it happens in an area without any vulnerable individuals. Yet, a bad occurrence can have devastating repercussions and leave persistent damage that can take years to recover from in a sensitive location, such as Nepal, after the 2015 earthquake. The dreadful consequences usually lead to post-traumatic disorders in the affected populations. These more frequent emotional experiences can be supported through group processing, which promotes resilience and increases community participation.

All major types of natural disasters

Countless natural catastrophes are brought on by various factors and affect people and the environment in multiple ways. Although manmade actions such as climate change are to blame for many natural catastrophes nowadays, other disasters are entirely natural and are beyond human control.

Disasters caused by geological risks

1. Avalanches and landslides

Many slope-forming materials, such as rock, soil, artificial fill, or a combination, drop outward and downward in a landslide. In World War I, 40,000 and 80,000 men perished in avalanches while engaged in mountain combat in the Alps along the Austrian-Italian front. A lot of avalanches were triggered by artillery bombardment.

2. Earthquakes

Seismic waves are produced when there is a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust. Earthquakes cause vibration, shaking, and occasionally ground displacement at the planet's surface. Geological fault lines shift, which results in earthquakes. The term "seismic focal" describes the earthquake's origin beneath the surface, and the area just above the concentration on the surface is the epicenter. As opposed to primary events like earthquakes, secondary events like building collapses, fires, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions frequently result in the death of people and animals. Several of these might be avoided with better planning, safety precautions, early warning systems, and construction.

3. Sinkholes

When the Earth becomes too unstable to sustain the structures built upon it due to natural erosion, human mining, or underground excavation, it can collapse and form a sinkhole. For instance, Tropical Storm Agatha's heavy rainfall was directed by leaking pipes into a bedrock formed of pumice, resulting in the sudden collapse of the Earth beneath an industrial structure, triggering the 2010 sinkhole in Guatemala City, which claimed the lives of fifteen people.

4. Eruptions of volcanoes

The massive destruction and subsequent catastrophe caused by a volcano can result from various sources. Due to the power of the explosion and the risk of injury from falling boulders, the volcanic eruption itself can be hazardous. Lava may also form after a volcano erupts, and because of its extreme heat, it can harm buildings, plants, and animals as it leaves the volcano. Moreover, volcanic ash can accumulate thickly in the region, creating a cloud (typically after cooling). When mixed with water, a product that resembles concrete is produced. If there is enough ash, its weight can be enough that it can collapse roofs.

5. Disasters Brought on by Water Risks

Flooding can happen when a river or lake, for example, has more water than normal, and part of it escapes its regular borders. While yearly fluctuations in precipitation and snowmelt will impact the size of a lake or other body of water, a flood is rarely noticeable until it affects human-used land, such as a town, city, or other crowded areas, roadways, or substantial areas of agricultural land.

6. Tsunami

When a sizeable volume of water is displaced, most usually in an ocean or large lake, a succession of waves known as a tsunami, sometimes referred to as a seismic sea wave or tidal wave, occurs in a body of water. Volcanic eruptions, such as the well-known Santorini eruption; underwater earthquakes, like the one that occurred on Christmas Day in 2004; landslides, like those in Lituya Bay, Alaska, in 1958; or earthquakes on land can all result in tsunamis. On March 11, 2011, a tsunami hit the region around Fukushima, Japan, and rushed over the Pacific Ocean.

7. Eruption of the Limnic

A limnic eruption, also known as a lake overturn, occurs when a gas, often CO2, suddenly emerges from deep lake water. This raises the risk of smothering humans, animals, and other objects. When the increasing gas displaces water, an eruption like this might potentially generate tsunamis in the lake. According to scientists, landslides, explosions, or volcanic activity may have caused such an occurrence. Just two limnic eruptions have been seen and documented so far. In 1984, a limnic eruption at Lake Monoun, Cameroon, claimed the lives of 37 residents. In 1986, a far greater eruption at the nearby Lake Nyos asphyxiated between 1,700 and 1,800 people, killing them.

Disasters Brought on by Severe Weather Risks

1. Dry and hot weather

Summer(heat wave) is when temperatures are extremely high. The greatest heat wave in recent memory occurred throughout Europe in 2003. A summer heat wave in Victoria, Australia, created the conditions that stoked the disastrous bushfires in 2009. When some remote regions were burnt by temperatures considerably higher, Melbourne had three days in a row with temperatures exceeding 40 °C (104 °F). Arsonists partially started the bushfires that were often referred to as "Black Saturday". The intense heat waves that ravaged the Northern Hemisphere in 2010 resulted in over 2,000 fatalities. The heat ignited hundreds of wildfires, which caused severe air pollution and decimated thousands of square kilometers of forest.

2. Droughts

When there is a sustained period of rainfall that is far below average, the Earth becomes unusually dry. Drought conditions can also be caused by these elements in addition to hot, dry winds, a shortage of water, high temperatures, and the subsequent evaporation of precipitation from the ground. Droughts have the side effects of crop failure and water shortages.

One of the more well-known historical droughts was the Australian Millennium Drought, which lasted from 1997 to 2009 and led to a water supply problem in several areas of the country. Many additional desalination plants were built as a result. Texas suffered significant economic losses in 2011 and endured a drought and unanticipated crises the whole year.

3. Duststorms

A dust storm, often called a sandstorm, is a common meteorological event in arid and semi-dry regions. Dust storms are produced when a strong wind, such as a gust front, lifts loose sand and debris off a dry surface. Transporting tiny particles involves the processes of saltation and suspension, which move soil from one place to another.

4. Firestorms

When a fire gets so hot that it can sustain its wind system, it's called a firestorm. Most often, the largest bushfires and wildfires have caused this natural phenomenon. The phenomenon is characterized as a fire with its own storm-force winds from every direction towards the storm's core, where the air is heated and subsequently ascends, despite the phrase being used to describe a variety of enormous flames.

5. Wildfires

Wildland regions are where many large burns known as "wildfires" start. Reckless or purposeful fires can start wildfires, but lightning and dryness are the main causes. As they spread into populated areas, they provide a risk to property, people, and wildlife. Two famous wildfires include the 1871 Peshtigo Fire in the United States, which killed at least 1700 lives, and the 2009 Victorian bushfires in Australia.

6. Storms

Typhoons, cyclones, cyclonic storms, and hurricanes are all names for the same event, a tropical storm that forms over the sea. Violent winds, huge volumes of rain, and thunderstorms characterize it. The location of the storm's genesis will determine which word is used. In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, storms are referred to as "hurricanes," in the Northwest Pacific, as "typhoons," and in the South Pacific and, in the Indian Ocean, as "cyclones."

7. Thunderstorms

Strong storms, dust clouds, and volcanic eruptions may all create lightning. Lightning damage can result in building damage, fires, and direct fatalities, in addition to the typical storm damage from winds, hail, and water. Lightning strikes have been particularly fatal, killing 91 people during the disaster of LANSA Flight 508, 30 people in Ushari Dara, a lonely mountain village in northwest Pakistan, and 469 people in a gasoline explosion in Dronka, Egypt, in 1994. Lightning-related fatalities are more prevalent in the less developed nations of the Americas and Asia, where lightning hits often and adobe mud brick buildings offer minimal protection.

8. Tornadoes

When a cumulonimbus cloud or, under rare circumstances, the base of a cumulus cloud makes contact with the Earth's surface, a deadly rotating column of air known as a tornado is created. While the name "cyclone" in meteorology generally refers to any restricted low-pressure circulation, it is also known as a twister or cyclone in various cultures. Tornadoes can be any size or shape but often resemble a visible condensation funnel with a narrow end that touches the ground and is commonly encircled by dust and debris.

Conditions of Cold-Weather

1. Blizzards

Blizzards are strong winter storms with high winds and a lot of snow. A ground blizzard is brought on by strong winds that stir up snow that has already fallen. Blizzards can affect the local economy, particularly in areas where it doesn't snow often. The United States was affected by the Great Blizzard of 1888, which ruined tonnes of wheat crops.

2. Hailstorms

Precipitation made of ice that does not dissolve before it hits the ground is hail. Hailstones typically have a diameter between 5 and 150 mm (1/4 and 6 in). Munich, Germany, was hit by a particularly violent hailstorm on July 12, 1984, which resulted in insurance claims of over $2 billion.

3. Cold Waves

It's also called a cold wave or cold spell in other regions. According to the U.S. National Weather Service, a cold wave is defined as a sharp temperature drop over 24 hours that significantly increases the need for protection for economic, social, and industrial activities. The rate of temperature loss and the lowest temperature reached during a cold wave determine the exact definition of a cold wave. Based on the region and the season, this lowest temperature may vary.

Main Impact

Natural disasters can result in environmental devastation, human suffering, loss of life or other health effects, destruction of property, interruption of livelihoods and services, and death. Natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and pandemics claim thousands of lives yearly and cause billions of dollars in property and habitat damage. Nonetheless, the frequency and severity of disasters have increased due to the world's population's rapid growth and growing concentration in dangerous places. The tropical climate, unstable landforms, deforestation, unchecked population growth, and non-engineered constructions all contribute to the vulnerability of disaster-prone areas. Because of inadequate information and financing for disaster management and prevention, natural disasters more or less often impact underdeveloped countries.

Environmental Impact

Although garbage production may increase during emergencies like natural disasters and armed conflicts, waste management is given far less attention than other services. Unmanaged garbage and increased littering in communities might occur from the disruption of current waste management systems and infrastructures. In these circumstances, damage to the environment and human health commonly occurs.

Natural catastrophes (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes) can produce a significant quantity of trash in a brief time. Repairing waste management systems can take time and money when they are restricted or malfunctioning. For instance, the 2011 tsunami in Japan produced enormous volumes of debris, estimated at 5 million tonnes of rubbish, from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment. Late in 2011, some trash, primarily made of plastic and styrofoam, washed ashore on U.S. and Canadian beaches. This may have transported alien species and multiplied litter by ten along the west coast of the United States. Storms are another important source of plastic trash. Following a typhoon in 2018, Lo et al. (2020) found a 100% increase in microplastics on Hong Kong beaches.

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