Why we can no longer ignore consecutive disasters

Marleen C. de Ruiter*, Anaïs Couasnon, Marc J.C. van den Homberg, James E. Daniell, Joel C. Gill, Philip J. Ward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


In recent decades, a striking number of countries have suffered from consecutive disasters: events whose impacts overlap both spatially and temporally, while recovery is still under way. The risk of consecutive disasters will increase due to growing exposure, the interconnectedness of human society, and the increased frequency and intensity of nontectonic hazard. This paper provides an overview of the different types of consecutive disasters, their causes, and impacts. The impacts can be distinctly different from disasters occurring in isolation (both spatially and temporally) from other disasters, noting that full isolation never occurs. We use existing empirical disaster databases to show the global probabilistic occurrence for selected hazard types. Current state-of-the art risk assessment models and their outputs do not allow for a thorough representation and analysis of consecutive disasters. This is mainly due to the many challenges that are introduced by addressing and combining hazards of different nature, and accounting for their interactions and dynamics. Disaster risk management needs to be more holistic and codesigned between researchers, policy makers, first responders, and companies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019EF001425
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


The authors declare no conflicts of interests. The authors would like to thank Dim Coumou, Steffi Uhlemann, Florian Elmer, and Graeme Riddell for their very valuable comments and suggestions. This work has been funded by a VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) (016.161.324). Joel Gill's contribution to this article was supported by the British Geological Survey NC-ODA Grant NE/R000069/1: Geoscience for Sustainable Futures, and he publishes with the permission of the Executive Director, British Geological Survey (UKRI). The artwork for Figure are from and used with permission of Henk de Boer (www.henkdeboer.nl) and are under copyright of the artist.

FundersFunder number
British Geological Survey NC‐ODA
UK Research and Innovation
British Geological SurveyNE/R000069/1
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek016.161.324


    • compound disasters
    • consecutive disasters
    • extreme events
    • Multi-hazard
    • Multi-risk


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