Natural Hazards

Natural hazards are defined as natural processes or phenomena that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage.  Natural hazards can be characterized by their magnitude or intensity, speed of onset, duration, and area of extent. This section offers a summary of the characteristics, impacts, damage types, emergency actions, mitigation, and further measures, associated with the different types of natural hazards (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020)


United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). 2020. “Hazard Definition & Classification Review.”

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University of Salzburg Department of Geoinformatics Z_GIS

The Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS at the University of Salzburg is a well established centre of competence in GIScience, active in research and education in collaboration with academic and industry partners from the geospatial sector. At the same time, our team of Geoinformatics specialists contribute their skills and expertise to study programmes and research at Salzburg University as well as a range of international partner organisations.

The department is divided into the following divisions:



ISME-HYDRO Software/Tool/(Web-)App


ISME-HYDRO is a platform that helps monitor water resources of dams, thus enabling water resources managers to better execute their duties. It employs linked data infrastructure integrating in-situ measurements, satellite data, GIS data, domain knowledge, deep learning, and provides capabilities of forecasting of water volumes, of alerting for hazardous situations, of interaction with the data through four kinds of search and GIS interactivity. The platform is easily extendable and customizable.

Capacity Building and Training Material

UN SPIDER Recommended Best Practice: Exposure Mapping Capacity Building and Training Material

UN SPIDER Recommended Best Practice: Exposure Mapping


Mapping the extent of a natural hazard (e.g., assessing areas with a high risk) or disaster is a first step in disaster risk management and emergency response. Subsequently, exposure mapping enables the estimation of the impact of hazards or disasters, for example, regarding the number of affected inhabitants or infrastructure. The following practice shows the use of Quantum GIS to analyze a disaster extent map in combination with auxiliary data such as population or land cover data.


Interview with Prof. Hesham El-Askary

Prof. Hesham El-Askary works at Chapman University in the Earth Systems Science Data Solutions (ESsDs) lab. Here, he supervises students on the use of satellite earth observations for topics including agriculture, water resources, air quality and climate action, and makes use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Prof. El-Askary is researching natural and anthropogenic pollution’s influence on the environment and is particularly interested in the concept of “glocal” impact—how what’s happening globally in terms of climate affects us locally. He believes that one of the biggest challenges in implementing sustainable water management is the lack of data to monitor progress, and advocates for space technologies to mitigates this shortage.