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Frazier, T. G., Wood, N., Yarnal, B., Stakeholder perspectives on land-use strategies for adapting to climate-change-enhanced coastal hazards: Sarasota, Florida, Applied Geography, doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.05.007

Wood, N., Burton, C., and Cutter, S., 2010, Community variations in social vulnerability to Cascadia-related tsunamis in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Natural Hazards, 52(2), 369-389

Frazier, T., Wood, N., Yarnal, B., Bauer, D., 2010. Influence of potential sea level rise on societal vulnerability to hurricane storm-surge hazards, Sarasota County, Florida, Applied Geography, doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.05.005

Wood, N., and Soulard, C., 2009. Variations in population exposure and sensitivity to lahar hazards from Mount Rainier, Washington, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 188, 367-378.

Wood, N., 2009. Tsunami exposure estimation with land-cover data: Oregon and the Cascadia subduction zone, Applied Geography 29, 158-170.

Wood, N., and Soulard, C., 2009, Community exposure to lahar hazards from Mount Rainier, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5211, 26 p.

Risk and Vulnerability to Natural Hazards

Photograph of Mount Rainier and Orting, Washington, as seen from a ridge to the west. Orting is one of many communities that are in lahar-prone areas below the flanks of Mount Rainier. Photograph: Nathan Wood.
Photograph of Mount Rainier and Orting, Washington,
as seen from a ridge to the west. Orting is one of many
communities that are in lahar-prone areas below the
flanks of Mount Rainier. Photograph: Nathan Wood.
The United States faces multiple natural hazards that threaten its safety, security, economic well-being, and natural resources. To mitigate, prepare for, and recover from disasters, public officials and at-risk communities need a clear understanding of both societal risk from various threats and strategies to increase resilience. Societal risk and resilience to natural hazards are complex phenomena, involving the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of human-environmental systems. These aspects of vulnerability are a function of (1) existing patterns of land use and land cover, (2) current socioeconomic conditions, (3) likely patterns of future land use, and (4) current efforts to mitigate, adapt to, or prepare for future events or conditions.

The objective of this project is to develop methods to characterize and communicate the vulnerability of coupled human-environmental systems to natural hazards. This project seeks to integrate understanding of past, current, and potential land-surface change with hazard scenarios to characterize the spatial dynamics of societal vulnerability. Research efforts include catastrophic hazards (for example, tsunami, earthquakes, and volcanoes) and chronic hazards (for example, coastal erosion and sea level rise). Research has included the use of landcover data for documenting community variations in exposure to natural hazards, for regional monitoring of vulnerability, and for modeling pedestrian evacuations from sudden-onset hazards. Results of this research have been used to focus local risk-reduction strategies, State and regional outreach efforts, national preparedness exercises, and national science policy. Methods developed in this project have been replicated in foreign countries and geospatial tools are being developed to facilitate the transferability of these methods.

Principal Investigator: Nathan Wood, nwood@usgs.gov, Western Geographic Science Center, Menlo Park, CA

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