The impacts of climate change on the risk of natural disasters

Maarten K. van Aalst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

396 Citations (Scopus)


Human emissions of greenhouse gases are already changing our climate. This paper provides an overview of the relation between climate change and weather extremes, and examines three specific cases where recent acute events have stimulated debate on the potential role of climate change: the European heatwave of 2003; the risk of inland flooding, such as recently in Central Europe and Great Britain; and the harsh Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. Furthermore, it briefly assesses the relation between climate change and El Niño, and the potential of abrupt climate change. Several trends in weather extremes are sufficiently clear to inform risk reduction efforts. In many instances, however, the potential increases in extreme events due to climate change come on top of alarming rises in vulnerability. Hence, the additional risks due to climate change should not be analysed or treated in isolation, but instead integrated into broader efforts to reduce the risk of natural disasters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Climate variability
  • Disaster
  • Floods
  • Heatwaves
  • Natural hazards
  • Risk
  • Tropical cyclones


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