Using research to build resilience: the science of disaster science

Elsevier, Elsevier Connect, 19 January 2017
Taylor Stang, Ludivine Allagnat, Janoah Willsie

The Asia-Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world, according to a 2015 report from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Between 2005 and 2014, ESCAP reported 1,625 disaster events in the region, which took the lives of about 500,000 people, affected 1.4 billion others, and caused $523 billion in damage.

Natural disasters, and the associated risks — especially for those living along the “Pacific Ring of Fire” fault lines or in the major typhoon tracks — are facts of life. Those living in the region are 30 times more likely to be affected by a natural disaster than someone living in North America or Europe, according to the UN.

These natural disasters have a significant impact on the lives of people in the region and on economies globally. This impact has sparked new research and conversation in the field of disaster science, much of it prompted by the “triple disaster” of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident five years ago. This research aims to advance our understanding of these often catastrophic events, and can illuminate paths towards better preparedness, recovery and even prevention. Elsevier’s own analysis of the research landscape reveals not only where scholarly output is concentrated globally and within Asia, but also which countries are producing the most “impactful” research (as measured by field-weighted citation impact) and new and emerging areas of investigation.