Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Natural Disasters since 1900: 8 Million Deaths and 7 Trillion US Dollars Damage

The CATDAT database with socioeconomic analysis: Flood catastrophes have caused the highest damages, Earthquake and Storms however are increasing in significance – Analysis helps catastrophe management.
Deaths via natural disasters (ill. James Daniell, KIT)

More than 7 trillion USD economic costs, and 8 million deaths from natural disasters since the start of the 20th century: This total has been calculated by the Geophysicist/Engineer James Daniell from KIT. The CATDAT database created by him uses socioeconomic indicators from the past and uses these components as the basis for a rapid loss model, which helps governments and aid organisations to understand the scale of a disaster soon after it occurs, and helps with the disaster management. These results were presented by Dr. Daniell at the Annual General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.

In CATDAT, James Daniell has until now evaluated more than 35000 natural disaster worldwide since 1900. More than a third of all economic costs between 1900 and 2015 come from floods. Earthquakes have caused 26 percent of damages, storms over 19 percent and volcanic eruptions around the 1 percent mark. “In the past 100 or so years, the yearly economic costs from natural disasters have increased in absolute terms”, says Dr. Daniell, who is a researcher at KIT in the Geophysical Institute and also the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) and is a John Monash Scholar.

During the total time period from 1900-2015, floods are the largest cause of economic costs, however in recent times, since 1960, storms (and storm surge) are the highest cause with around 30 percent of all losses.

The CATDAT Database

Since 2003, James Daniell has been building the CATDAT database up from various books, reports from institutions, scientific articles, online newspaper and data archives and other data sources globally. In his PhD Thesis he developed a rapid earthquake loss estimation model globally – using empirical data from over 8000 earthquakes since 1900. Using this database as well as socioeconomic metrics, he estimates the deaths and economic costs from disasters. At the start of 2016, Dr. Daniell received one of three Doctoral Awards of KIT. He has continuesd developing his model into other disaster fields and has around 35000 events now in the archive since 1900.

For detailed information see press release 058/2016.

le, 18.04.2016