International Committee on issues of Global Changes of the Geological Environment, “GEOCHANGE”

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Economic losses from natural disasters in 2011 will exceed $ 1 trillion

This is the conclusion reached by expert evaluation of the International Committee GEOCHANGE on Global Geological and Environmental Change. Monitoring of the dynamics of numbers and energy of natural disasters leads scientists to such a disappointing conclusion.

Analysis of the growth dynamics of the economic damage caused by natural disasters leads to very disappointing conclusions. According to the world’s largest Swiss insurance company Swiss Re, economic losses from natural disasters in 2010 totaled $ 222 billion, which is three times the economic loss for the year 2009 ($ 63 billion). Meanwhile, economic losses from natural disasters for the first quarter of 2011 alone have exceeded $ 320 billion, most of which is related to the economic damage caused to Japan by the strong M8.9 earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011

Fig.1. Growth dynamics of economic damage caused to world economy by natural disasters

If the tendency for the number and energy of natural disasters to grow which started in the first quarter of 2011 persists as shown in Figure 1, economic losses caused by natural disasters to the world economy by the end of 2011 will exceed one trillion U.S. dollars.

Fig.2. Growth dynamics of death toll caused by natural disasters

The number of deaths caused by natural disasters across the world in 2010 exceeded 325,000 people while in 2009 the death toll was about 15,000 people. The growth dynamics of the death toll in 2009-2010 is shown in Fig.2.

Fig.3. Growth dynamics for number of strong earthquakes with magnitude ≥6

Analysis of the varying number of earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 6 from 1950 to late March 2011 reveals a sharp increase in the number of earthquakes with M ≥ 6 over the last decade with a peak in March 2011. This process is well represented by the envelope for maximum values of the graph of monthly numbers of earthquakes in Fig. 3.

Fig.4. Growth dynamics of annual numbers of strong earthquakes with magnitude ≥7

Fig. 4 shows the growth dynamics of strong earthquakes with magnitude ≥ 7 from 1950 to 2010 inclusive. As can be seen from the graph (marked in blue) and polynomial trend (marked in red) the growing number of strong earthquakes is cyclical, with another cycle of very high seismic activity starting from 2005..

Volcanic activity is also characterized by a significant increase in the number of volcanic eruptions which can be clearly seen on the graph (Fig. 5). The annual numbers of volcanic eruptions (marked in yellow) and the trend (marked in blue) drawn on the basis of 7-year moving averages show that a new cycle of volcanic activity started in 1998 with a considerably higher amplitude than the previous cycle. This is attested by statistical data for the year of 2011 during which there have been 60 registered volcanic eruptions for the first six months alone. The number of volcanic eruptions in the first half of 2011 makes it possible to give an initial forecast for volcanic activity for the rest of 2011. The issued volcanic activity forecast for this year causes serious concern since the expected number of volcanic eruptions may be a record for the last 100 years.

Fig.5. Dynamics of annual numbers of world volcanic eruptions

Detailed analysis of dynamics of different types of natural disasters will be presented at the World Forum – International Congress “Natural Cataclysms and Global Problems of the Modern Civilization – GEOCATACLYSM 2011” which is to take place 19-21 September 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey (

International Committee GEOCHANGE
on Global Geological and Environmental Change