Disaster classification - Global Disaster Loss Collection Initiative (2022)

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DATA project Significance

DATA project

The Disaster Loss Data (DATA) project, under the umbrella of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme, brings together stakeholders from different disciplines and sectors to study issues related to the collection, storage, and dissemination of disaster loss data. The aim is to establish an overall framework for disaster loss data for all providers, to establish nodes and networks for databases, and to conduct sensitivity testing among databases to ensure some level of comparability.


  • All data providers class peril using a standardized scheme
  • Permits comparability across databases despite different goals and objectives of individual databases
  • Enables top-down or bottom-up structure which meets needs of global to local databases

Please find below the definition of disasters type used by our methodology.

Our methodology and our office are part of the Disaster Loss Data (DATA) project, under the umbrella of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme and will apply the common standardized classification and definition after their approvals.

Disaster Loss Data (DATA) family classification


An explosion of a comet or meteoroid within the Earth’s atmospherewithout striking the ground.

Animal IncidentBiological
Human encounters with dangerous or exotic animals in both urbanand rural environments.

Ash FallGeological
Fine (less than 4 mm in diameter) unconsolidated volcanic debrisblown into the atmosphere during an eruption; can remain airbornefor long periods of time and travel considerable distance from thesource.

Avalanche Hydrological
A large mass of loosened earth material, snow, or ice that slides, flowsor falls rapidly down a mountainside under the force of gravity.
• Snow Avalanche: Rapid downslope movement of a mix of snowand ice.
• Debris Avalanche: The sudden and very rapid downslopemovement of unsorted mass of rock and soil. There are twogeneral types of debris avalanches - a cold debris avalanche usuallyresults from an unstable slope suddenly collapsing whereas a hotdebris avalanche results from volcanic activity leading to slopeinstability and collapse.

Bacterial DiseaseBiological
An unusual increase in the number of incidents caused by theexposure to bacteria either through skin contact, ingestion orinhalation. Examples include salmonella, MSRA, and cholera, amongothers.

Biological HazardBiological
A hazard caused by the exposure to living organisms and their toxicsubstances (e.g. venom, mold) or vector-borne diseases that they maycarry. Examples are venomous wildlife and insects, poisonous plants,and mosquitoes carrying disease-causing agents such as parasites,bacteria, or viruses (e.g. malaria).

Climatological HazardClimatological
A hazard caused by long-lived, meso- to macro-scale atmosphericprocesses ranging from intra-seasonal to multi-decadal climatevariability.

Coastal Erosion Hydrological
The temporary or permanent loss of sediments or landmass in coastalmargins due to the action of waves, winds, tides, or anthropogenicactivities.

Coastal Flood Hydrological
Higher-than-normal water levels along the coast caused by tidalchanges or thunderstorms that result in flooding, which can last fromdays to weeks.

Cold Wave Meteorological
A period of abnormally cold weather. Typically a cold wave lasts twoor more days and may be aggravated by high winds. The exacttemperature criteria for what constitutes a cold wave vary by location.

Convective Storm Meteorological
A type of meteorological hazard generated by the heating of air andthe availability of moist and unstable air masses. Convective stormsrange from localised thunderstorms (with heavy rain and/or hail,lightning, high winds, tornadoes) to meso-scale, multi-day events.

Debris Flow, Mud Flow, Rock Fall Hydrological
Types of landslides that occur when heavy rain or rapid snow/ice meltsend large amounts of vegetation, mud, or rock downslope bygravitational forces.

Derecho Meteorological
Widespread and usually fast-moving windstorms associated withconvection/convective storm. Derechos include downburst andstraight-line winds. The damage from derechos is often confused withthe damage from tornadoes.

Disease Biological
Either an unusual, often sudden, increase in the number of incidents ofan infectious disease that already existed in the region (e.g., flu, E.coli) or the appearance of an infectious disease previously absentfrom the region (e.g., plague, polio).

Drought Climatological
An extended period of unusually low precipitation that produces ashortage of water for people, animals and plants. Drought is differentfrom most other hazards in that it develops slowly, sometimes evenover years, and its onset is generally difficult to detect. Drought is notsolely a physical phenomenon because its impacts can be exacerbatedby human activities and water supply demands. Drought is thereforeoften defined both conceptually and operationally. Operationaldefinitions of drought, meaning the degree of precipitation reductionthat constitutes a drought, vary by locality, climate and environmentalsector.

Earthquake Geological
Sudden movement of a block of the Earth’s crust along a geologicalfault and associated ground shaking.

Energetic ParticlesExtraterrestrial
Emissions from solar radiation storms consisting of pieces of matter(e.g., protons and other charged particles) moving at very highspeed. The magnetosphere and atmosphere block (solar) energeticparticles (SEP) from reaching humans on Earth but they aredamaging to the electronics of space-borne technology (such assatellites) and pose a radiation hazard to life in space and aircraftstravelling at high altitudes.

Expansive Soil Hydrological
Earthen material, particularly clays that, upon wetting, freezing, ordrying will alternately expand or contract causing damage tofoundations of buildings and other structures. Shrinkage is generallyreferred to as desiccation.

Extraterrestrial HazardExtraterrestrial
A hazard caused by asteroids, meteoroids, and comets as they passnear-earth, enter the Earth’s atmosphere, and/or strike the Earth, andby changes in interplanetary conditions that effect the Earth’smagnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere.

Extratropical Storm Meteorological
A type of low-pressure cyclonic system in the middle and high latitudes(also called mid-latitude cyclone) that primarily gets its energy fromthe horizontal temperature contrasts (fronts) in the atmosphere.When associated with cold fronts, extratropical cyclones may beparticularly damaging (e.g., European winter/windstorm, Nor’easter).

Extreme Temperature Meteorological
A general term for temperature variations above (extreme heat) orbelow (extreme cold) normal conditions.

Fire following EarthquakeGeological
Urban fires triggered by earthquakes. Particularly susceptible areasinclude densely spaced, wooden buildings that dominate localarchitecture, and where the earthquake has damaged or rupturedwater and gas pipelines. Small local fires have the potential to mergeinto conflagrations destroying many city blocks.

Flash Flood Hydrological
Heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time that produceimmediate runoff, creating flooding conditions within minutes or afew hours during or after the rainfall.

Flood Hydrological
A general term for the overflow of water from a stream channel ontonormally dry land in the floodplain (riverine flooding), higher-thannormallevels along the coast and in lakes or reservoirs (coastalflooding) as well as ponding of water at or near the point where therain fell (flash floods).

Fog Meteorological
Water droplets that are suspended in the air near the Earth’s surface.Fog is simply a cloud that is in contact with the ground.

Forest Fire Climatological
A type of wildfire in a wooded area.

Frost, Freeze Meteorological
Frost is the consequence of radiative cooling resulting in theformation of thin ice crystals on the ground or other surfaces in theform of needles, feathers, scales, or fans. Frost occurs when thetemperature of surfaces is below freezing and water vapor fromhumid air forms solid deposits on the cold surface.Freeze occurs when the air temperature is at (32˚F/0˚C) or below overa widespread area for a climatologically significant period of time.Use of the term is usually restricted to advective situations or tooccasions when wind or other conditions prevent frost. Frost andfreeze are particularly damaging during the crop growing season.

Fungal Disease Biological
Exposure to fungi either through skin contact, ingestion or inhalationof spores resulting in an unusual increase in the number of incidents.Examples are fungal pneumonia, fungal meningitis, etc.

Geomagnetic StormExtraterrestrial
A type of extraterrestrial hazard caused by solar wind shockwavesthat temporarily disturb the Earth’s magnetosphere. Geomagneticstorms can disrupt power grids, spacecraft operations, and satellitecommunications.

Geophysical Hazard Geological
A hazard originating from solid earth. This term is usedinterchangeably with the term geological hazard.

Glacial Lake OutburstClimatological
A flood that occurs when water dammed by a glacier or moraine issuddenly released. Glacial lakes can be at the front of the glacier(marginal lake) or below the ice sheet (sub-glacial lake).

Ground MovementGeological
Surface displacement of earthen materials due to ground shakingtriggered by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

Hail Meteorological
Solid precipitation in the form of irregular pellets or balls of ice morethan 5 mm in diameter.

Heat Wave Meteorological
A period of abnormally hot and/or unusually humid weather. Typicallya heat wave lasts two or more days. The exact temperature criteria forwhat constitutes a heat wave vary by location.Hydrological HazardA hazard caused by the occurrence, movement, and distribution ofsurface and subsurface freshwater and saltwater.

Ice Jam Flood Hydrological
The accumulation of floating ice restricting or blocking a river’s flowand drainage. Ice jams tend to develop near river bends andobstructions (e.g., bridges).

Impact - CollisionExtraterrestrial
A type of extraterrestrial hazard caused by the collision of the Earthwith a meteoroid, asteroid or comet.

Insect InfestationBiological
The pervasive influx, swarming and/or hatching of insects affectinghumans, animals, crops, and perishable goods. Examples are locustsand African Bees.

Lahar Geological
Hot or cold mixture of earthen material flowing on the slope of avolcano either during or between volcanic eruptions.

Landslide following EarthquakeGeological
Independent of the presence of water, mass movement may also betriggered by earthquakes.

Lava Flow Geological
The ejected magma that moves as a liquid mass downslope from avolcano during an eruption.

Lightning Meteorological
A high-voltage, visible electrical discharge produced by athunderstorm and followed by the sound of thunder.

Liquefaction Geological
The transformation of (partially) water-saturated soil from a solidstate to a liquid state caused by an earthquake. Liquefaction reducesthe strength and stiffness of soil causing buildings to topple over.

Mass Movement Geological
Any type of downslope movement of earth materials.

Meteorological Hazard Meteorological
A hazard caused by short-lived, micro- to meso-scale extreme weatherand atmospheric conditions that last from minutes to days.

Parasitic DiseaseBiological
Exposure to a parasite–an organism living on or in a host–causes anunusual increase in the number of incidents. Exposure to parasitesoccurs mostly through contaminated water, food or contact withinsects, animals (zoonotic), pets, etc. Examples are malaria, chagasdisease, giardiasis and trichinellosis.

Prion Disease Biological
A type of biological hazard caused by prion proteins. Prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are a family of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders that affect both humans andanimals characterised by long incubation periods and neural loss.Examples are Bovine Spongiform Encephalophathy (BSE), Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease (CJD), Kuru, etc.

Pyroclastic FlowGeological
Extremely hot gases, ash, and other materials of more than 1,000degrees Celsius that rapidly flow down the flank of a volcano (morethan 700 km/h) during an eruption.

Radio DisturbanceExtraterrestrial
Triggered by x-ray emissions from the Sun hitting the Earth’satmosphere and causing disturbances in the ionosphere such asjamming of high and/or low frequency radio signals. This affectssatellite radio communication and Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Rain Meteorological
Water vapour condenses in the atmosphere to form water dropletsthat fall to the Earth.

Riverine Flood Hydrological
A type of flooding resulting from the overflow of water from a streamor river channel onto normally dry land in the floodplain adjacent tothe channel.

Rogue Wave Hydrological
An unusual single crest of an ocean wave far out at sea that is muchhigher and/or steeper than other waves in the prevailing swell system.

Sandstorm, Dust Storm Meteorological
Strong winds carry particles of sand aloft, but generally confined toless than 50 feet (15 m), especially common in arid and semi-aridenvironments. A dust storm is also characterised by strong winds butcarries smaller particles of dust rather than sand over an extensivearea.

Seiche Hydrological
A standing wave of water in a large semi- or fully-enclosed body ofwater (lakes or bays) created by strong winds and/or a largebarometric pressure gradient,

Shockwave Extraterrestrial
A shockwave carries energy from a disturbance through a medium(solid, liquid, gas) similar to a wave though it travels at much higherspeed. It can be a type of extraterrestrial hazard caused by theexplosion (airburst) or impact of meteorites that generate energyshockwaves capable of shattering glass, collapsing walls, etc.

Sinkhole Hydrological
Collapse of the land surface due to the dissolving of the subsurfacerocks such as limestone or carbonate rock by water.

Snow, Ice Meteorological
Precipitation in the form of ice crystals/snowflakes or ice pellets (sleet)formed directly from freezing water vapour in the air. Ice accumulateswhen rain hits the cold surface and freezes.

Space Weather Extraterrestrial
A general term for extraterrestrial weather conditions driven by solareruptions such as geomagnetic storms, radio disturbances, and solarenergetic particles.

Storm Surge Meteorological
An abnormal rise in sea level generated by a tropical cyclone or otherintense storms.

Subsidence Climatological
Subsidence refers to the sinking of the ground due to groundwaterremoval, mining, dissolution of limestone (e.g., karst, sinkholes),extraction of natural gas, and earthquakes.

Tornado Meteorological
A violently rotating column of air that reaches the ground or openwater (waterspout).

Tropical Cyclone Meteorological
A tropical cyclone originates over tropical or subtropical waters. It ischaracterised by a warm-core, non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone witha low pressure centre, spiral rain bands and strong winds. Dependingon their location, tropical cyclones are referred to as hurricanes(Atlantic, Northeast Pacific), typhoons (Northwest Pacific), or cyclones(South Pacific and Indian Ocean).

Tsunami Geological
A series of waves (with long wavelengths when traveling across thedeep ocean) that are generated by a displacement of massiveamounts of water through underwater earthquakes, volcaniceruptions or landslides. Tsunami waves travel at very high speedacross the ocean but as they begin to reach shallow water they slowdown and the wave grows steeper.

Viral Disease Biological

Volcanic Activity Geological
A type of volcanic event near an opening/vent in the Earth’s surfaceincluding volcanic eruptions of lava, ash, hot vapour, gas, andpyroclastic material.

Wave Action Hydrological
Wind-generated surface waves that can occur on the surface of anyopen body of water such as oceans, rivers and lakes, etc. The size ofthe wave depends on the strength of the wind and the traveleddistance (fetch).

Wildfire Climatological
Any uncontrolled and non-prescribed combustion or burning of plantsin a natural setting such as a forest, grassland, brush land or tundra,which consumes the natural fuels and spreads based onenvironmental conditions (e.g., wind, topography). Wildfires can betriggered by lightning or human actions.

Wind Meteorological
Differences in air pressure resulting in the horizontal motion of air. Thegreater the difference in pressure, the stronger the wind. Wind movesfrom high pressure toward low pressure.

Winter Storm, Blizzard Meteorological
A low pressure system in winter months with significantaccumulations of snow, freezing rain, sleet or ice. A blizzard is a severesnow storm with winds exceeding 35 mph (56 km/h) for three or morehours, producing reduced visibility (less than .25 mile (400 m).

DesInventar specific definition

Please noted, that the methodology allows to add, remove, create any terms related to specific disasters, however, we recomend to map them to the international standardized definition.
Find below, other hazards available with our methodology.

Automobile, rail, aircraft or navigation accidents. Limited to accidents induced by natural phenomena, such as landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes, rain, etc. Includes transportation accidents generating spills or leaks of harmful substances, regardless of the cause.

Torrential water flows dragging large amounts of solid material (pebbles, stones, and rock blocks) common in dry regions river beds which are produced by heavy rain. Equivalent to the term “huaico” used in Peru.

Boat Capsize
Overturning of a boat due to hitting the water-bed or due to sea disturbances, or other natural phenomena such as heavy winds or flash floods.

Explosions of any type, but limited to those induced or highly connected to natural phenomena, such as electrical storms, earthquakes, droughts, etc.

Extreme Rain
Precipitation. Includes punctual, persistent or torrential rain, or rain exceeding the rainfall averages of a specific region; also, unusual long rain periods. Rain includes terms such as downpour, cloudburst, heavy shower, deluge, etc.

Urban, industrial or rural fires, but not including forest fires. Limited to those induced or highly connected to natural phenomena, such as electrical storms, earthquakes, droughts, etc.

Flood - Urban Flood
Storm water that gets collected in city or urban areas after heavy rains due to blocking or under capacity of storm water drains. It may also be a riverine flood occurring specifically over an urban area.

Leak/Oil Spill
Leak of harmful liquid, solid or gas substances, whether radioactive or not, generated by technological accidents, human fault or transportation accidents.

Soil liquefaction describes a phenomenon whereby a saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to an applied stress, usually earthquake shaking or other sudden change in stress condition, causing it to behave like a liquid.

Panic o mass hysteria among people concentrated in a certain place (stadiums, theaters, etc.) that can kill or injure them, and cause physical damage. Limited to those induced or highly connected to natural phenomena, such as electrical storms, earthquakes, etc., and early warnings about incoming events.

Pollution Concentration of
polluting substances in the air, water or soils, at levels harmful to human health, crops or animal species.

Deposits of solid material on hillsides and river beds produced by mass movements, wind, floods or surface erosion with damages on crops, utilities or other infrastructure.

Soil Erosion
Washing away of soil down the surface of hill slopes or mass movements due to storm water flow during intense rains or winds. This can cause in turn sedimentation in streams / rivers and areas at the toe of the hills.

Structural Collapse
Damages or collapse of any type of structure for reasons such as excess weight in public places, bridges, etc. This event includes damage that, although not taking the structures to the point of collapse, does make them unusable. Damages in structures caused by natural phenomena are reported as an effect of these phenomena.

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