What is a natural hazard?

Natural hazards are extreme natural events that can cause loss of life, extreme damage to property and disrupt human activities.

Some natural hazards, such as flooding, can happen anywhere in the world. Other natural hazards, such as tornadoes, can only happen in specific areas. And some hazards need climatic or tectonic conditions to occur, for example tropical storms or volcanic eruptions.

Human activities can influence how often certain natural hazards occur and how severe they are. Understanding when, where, why and how natural hazards occur can help us to understand how to minimise their impact on our lives.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina