Natural Hazards

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Losses resulting from natural hazards—including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires—cost billions of dollars each year. RAND research has shown how long-term loss-reduction strategies and disaster preparedness could improve the resilience of communities and infrastructure in the face of natural disasters, resulting in less property damage and reduced rebuilding costs.

  • Aerial photograph of the devastation caused in the greater New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina, August 30, 2005, photo by Vincent Laforet/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Planning for a COVID-19 Hurricane

    May 4, 2020

    What if Hurricane Katrina had hit during a pandemic? Emergency planners can prepare for this scenario by evaluating current response system capacity, evacuation and sheltering procedures, food and supply issues, and more.

  • A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the Getty Fire as it burns in the hills of West Los Angeles, California, October 28, 2019, photo by Gene Blevins/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Climate Scientist's Brush with Wildfire

    Dec 18, 2019

    RAND researcher Robert Lempert was evacuated from the path of a wildfire. This experience emphasized for him the challenges of adapting to climate change, not merely because it is hard, but because it makes the familiar become unfamiliar in unexpected ways.

Explore Natural Hazards

  • woman carrying umbrella looking up at sky

    Commentary

    Weather Forecasts, and Our Trust in Them, Need to Improve

    When scientists predict extreme weather that never materializes, lay people tend to wonder what went wrong. This is a natural tendency that is not tied to a failure of the science, but rather to differences in the way scientists and lay people view predictions about extreme events.

    Oct 8, 2013

  • A mother on Staten Island straps a protective mask onto her baby after Hurricane Sandy

    Commentary

    Removing Road Blocks to Climate Change Adaptation Planning

    Despite increasing interest and investments in climate adaptation science, the implementation of adaptation plans through institutional policies or other actions designed to reduce health vulnerabilities has been slow. Institutionalized assumptions are an important roadblock.

    Oct 3, 2013

  • Hurricane Katrina - NWS

    Dissertation

    Improving Flood Risk Estimates and Mitigation Policies in Coastal Louisiana under Deep Uncertainty

    This dissertation consists of three essays that summarize the author's contributions to the study of flood risk in coastal Louisiana during and following its 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, an action-oriented plan consisting of over one hundred projects designed to minimize future land loss and flood risk while simultaneously considering negative impacts on fisheries and other ecosystem services.

    Sep 9, 2013

  • California Air National guardsmen perform precision water bucket drops near Yosemite

    Commentary

    The Desirability of 'Free' C-27s for the U.S. Forest Service

    Although we believe that a scooper-centric firefighting aircraft portfolio for initial attack would still be preferred, Air Force-provided 1,850-gallon C-27Js could be a cost-effective component of the retardant-bearing portion of the Forest Service's airborne firefighting arsenal, write Edward G. Keating and Daniel M. Norton.

    Sep 6, 2013

  • Oklahoma tornado cleanup

    Commentary

    Translating Policy Into Action to Build Community Resilience

    The philosophy and motivation surrounding community resilience has strongly resonated with community leaders but there remains a divide between how experts articulate resilience policy and how that policy translates to on-the-ground implementation. Building Community Resilience: An Online Training addresses that tension.

    Sep 4, 2013

  • Vietnamese woman paddling a boat

    Project

    Ensuring Robust Flood Risk Management in Vietnam

    Ho Chi Minh City faces significant and growing flood risk. Recent risk reduction efforts may not work if climate and socio-economic conditions diverge from earlier projections. Robust decision making can help Vietnam's largest city develop integrated flood risk management strategies despite this uncertainty.

    Aug 16, 2013

  • holding hands in a circle

    Tool

    Building Resilient Communities: An Online Training

    This easy-to-use, self-guided online training shows organizations and communities how to strengthen their resilience, helping them recover and learn from disaster—both natural and man-made.

    Aug 13, 2013

  • Hurricane Katrina satellite photo

    Journal Article

    Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment Model Helps Estimate Surge-Based Flood Risk

    The Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment model (CLARA) facilitates comparisons of current and future flood risk under a variety of protection system configurations in a wide range of environmental, operational, and economic uncertainties.

    Aug 1, 2013

  • Report

    Lessons from Department of Defense Disaster Relief Efforts in the Asia-Pacific Region

    The Asia-Pacific region bears the brunt of the majority of the world's natural disasters and is home to key U.S. allies. In an effort to improve the effectiveness of such operations, this report analyzes recent HA/DR operations in Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Japan, and identifies lessons that can be applied in the future.

    Jul 31, 2013

  • climate change visualization

    Journal Article

    Managing Risk with Climate Vulnerability Science

    Climate information alone cannot be sufficient for anticipating and reducing climate impacts.

    Jul 1, 2013

  • A destroyed home in Moore, OK, where an F5 tornado struck on May 20, 2013

    News Release

    RAND Launches Center to Study Ways to Manage Catastrophic Risk and Compensate Victims

    The RAND Corporation has created a new research center that will analyze different approaches to compensating individuals, businesses, and others following catastrophes ranging from natural disasters to terrorist attacks.

    Jun 24, 2013

  • Sunrise over Louisiana wetlands

    Solution

    Helping Coastal Communities Plan for Climate Change

    The vulnerability of coastal residents to loss of life and property damage from storm-surge flooding has already proven extensive in recent years. RAND has helped policymakers determine what mix of hurricane risk reduction and coastal restoration projects can reduce hurricane damage risk and rebuild coastal land, recognizing budget constraints.

    Jun 10, 2013

  • Moore, Okla. resident looking through remains of her house that was detroyed by the tornado

    Commentary

    Moore Must Be Ready for Psychological Aftermath

    Ensuring the availability of needed mental health resources was critical in the immediate aftermath and recovery phase of the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado. Authorities in Oklahoma must ensure that such services are in place early so that Moore's residents can begin the long journey to recovery.

    May 31, 2013

  • Tornado damaged classroom in the Tower Elementary School in Moore, OK

    Blog

    Resources for Schools and Parents Following the Deadly Oklahoma Tornado

    The toll of the tornado on school students in Moore, Oklahoma, cannot be overstated. To assist with recovery, RAND's CBITS program offers resources on psychological first aid for schools, as well as additional materials for educators and parents.

    May 29, 2013

  • Wildfire air tanker

    Commentary

    Firefighting Aircraft: Is Bigger Better?

    An aircraft's capacity and speed largely determine the rate at which water or retardant can be applied to a fire. Very large air tankers (VLATs) certainly have the capacity to apply large amounts of fluids to a fire, but because of the distances travelled they may not be able to get a second load very quickly.

    May 20, 2013

  • Vietnamese woman paddling a boat

    Journal Article

    Flood Risk Management in Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City faces significant and growing flood risk. Recent risk reduction efforts may not work if climate and socio-economic conditions diverge from earlier projections. Robust decisionmaking can help Vietnam's capital develop integrated flood risk management strategies despite this uncertainty.

    May 1, 2013

  • houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

    Commentary

    Planning for Superstorms, Wildfires, and Deep Uncertainty

    The path to climate change preparedness should start at the intersection of resilience and robustness — that is, building resilient communities with the individuals and organizations within those communities making robust decisions, ones designed to work well over a wide range of ever-changing conditions.

    Apr 18, 2013

  • Satellite image of the United States at night

    Report

    Capabilities-Based Planning Can Enhance Energy Security at DoD Installations

    Energy security strategies are needed because DoD installations rely on the U.S. commercial electricity grid which is vulnerable to disruption from natural hazards and actor-induced outages, such as physical or cyber attacks.

    Feb 20, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Exploiting the Chaos: Terrorist Target Choice Following Natural Disasters

    This article explores the differences between transnational and domestic terrorism, further differentiating by private versus government targets, to estimate the effect of exogenous catastrophic shocks on a country's level of domestic and transnational terrorism.

    Feb 8, 2013

  • Jordan Fischbach

    Blog

    In Brief: Jordan R. Fischbach on Adapting to Climate Change on the Coast

    In this video, Jordan Fischbach discusses how RAND helped Louisiana develop its 2012 Coastal Master Plan and key lessons that can make other communities more resilient in the face of natural disasters.

    Feb 6, 2013