There are several concurrent causes for this trend, which is confirmed at both global and European levels. From one side, it is now widely accepted in the scientific community that there is an increased frequency of extreme events due to on-going climate transformations (IPCC, 2001). From the other side, uncontrolled developments have originated an increased exposure of assets which in turn results in higher impacts when the extreme event occurs (EEA, 2004).
In the frame of an analysis of the cohesion of the European Union, it has to be evidenced that natural hazards can well be considered elements of territorial disparities (i.e. of causes that threat the harmonised and sustainable growth across the continent) because consequences of extreme events (e.g. floods, forest fires, droughts and heat-waves) and plans to reduce exposures (for instance intensive actions such as dykes or fire-breakers, or zoning regulation measures) have an impact on the socio-economic growth of the concerned region. Both direct and indirect impacts have to be considered in quantitative and qualitative manners to evaluate regional variations in vulnerabilities and define sustainable remedial strategies.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is active since several years in the field of forecasting and prevention of natural hazards such as floods, forest fires and droughts. The issue of heatwaves is the subject of an activity recently started.
This technical note aims to present the status of progresses of the work carried out at the Land Management Unit (LMU) of the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) in the field of risk and vulnerability analysis for weather-driven natural hazards. The work is performed in the frame of the overall JRC’s mission, with the specific objective to contribute to the understanding of territorial features linked to extreme events and to propose solutions and policy-options for sustainable regional development in the context of the European cohesion. These activities also contribute to the overall EU policy on climate change, in the specific sectors of ‘Adaptation to extreme events induced by climate change’.
The main foci of the work carried out concern flood, forest fire, drought and heat-waves. Following varied periods of hazard assessment and risk evaluation in those fields the corresponding products have now matured to a degree, which allows for the first time integrating the results to present risk mapping caused by those extreme weather events.