Global Increase in Climate-Related Disasters

44 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2015

See all articles by Vinod Thomas

Vinod Thomas

Asian Development Bank; World Bank - Operations Evaluation Department (OED); World Bank - World Bank Institute (WBI)

Ramón López

University of Chile

Date Written: November 2015


Intense climate-related disasters — floods, storms, droughts, and heat waves — have been on the rise worldwide. At the same time and coupled with an increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, temperatures, on average, have been rising, and are becoming more variable and more extreme. Rainfall has also been more variable and more extreme.

Is there an ominous link between the global increase of these hydrometeorological and climatological events on the one side and anthropogenic climate change on the other? This paper considers three main disaster risk factors — rising population exposure, greater population vulnerability, and increasing climate-related hazards — behind the increased frequency of intense climate-related natural disasters.

In a regression analysis within a model of disaster risk determination for 1971–2013, population exposure measured by population density and people’s vulnerability measured by socioeconomic variables are positively linked to the frequency of these intense disasters. Importantly, the results show that precipitation deviations are positively related to hydrometeorological events, while temperature and precipitation deviations have a negative association with climatological events. Moreover, global climate change indicators show positive and highly significant effects.

Along with the scientific association between greenhouse gases and the changes in the climate, the findings in this paper suggest a connection between the increasing number of natural disasters and man-made emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The implication is that climate mitigation and climate adaptation should form part of actions for disaster risk reduction.

Keywords: climate, climate hazards, government policy, natural disasters, sustainable development

JEL Classification: C22, Q54, Q56, Q58

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Vinod and López, Ramón, Global Increase in Climate-Related Disasters (November 2015). Asian Development Bank Economics Working Paper Series No. 466, Available at SSRN: or

Vinod Thomas (Contact Author)

Asian Development Bank ( email )

6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550
Metro Manila

World Bank - Operations Evaluation Department (OED) ( email )

United States

World Bank - World Bank Institute (WBI) ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Ramón López

University of Chile ( email )

Pío Nono Nº1, Providencia
Santiago, R. Metropolitana 7520421

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