2011 the most expensive year for natural disasters in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:42 PM GMT on July 14, 2011

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An exceptional accumulation of very severe natural catastrophes, including earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, tornadoes and flooding in the U.S., and flooding in Australia and New Zealand, make 2011 the highest-ever loss year on record, even after the first half-year, said re-insurance giant Munich Re in a press release this week. The $265 billion in economic losses accumulated this year exceeds the previous record year, 2005, which had $220 billion in damage (mostly due to $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Katrina.) Unlike 2005, this year's losses have been headlined by two huge earthquakes--the March 11 quake in Japan ($210 billion) and the February 22 quake in New Zealand ($20 billion.) But with the Northern Hemisphere's hurricane season just beginning, this year's record losses may see a significant boost from hurricanes.


Figure 1. Stunned survivors survey the destruction left by the EF-4 Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado of April. With a price tag estimated at $2 billion, this was the single most expensive tornado of all-time. The record stood only three weeks, being surpassed by the $3 billion in damage from the Joplin Missouri, tornado. The two tornado outbreaks that spawned these tornadoes rank as the globe's 3rd and 5th most destructive natural disasters so far this year. Image from an anonmous posting to Twitter.

Climate change and damage from weather-related disasters
In an interview with MSNBC, Peter Hoppe, who runs Munich Re's Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center, said that while the damage trend for earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions is fairly stable, damage from severe weather events is on the upswing, even after factoring in increases in population and wealth. He cited natural events such as La Niña and El Niño as factors in some of the damaging weather events, but added that warming temperatures appear to be adding a layer "on top" of that natural variability. In particular, he noted that the floods this January in Australia--that nation's most expensive natural disaster of all time--occurred when ocean temperatures off the coast were at record warm levels. That meant "more evaporation and higher potential for these extreme downpours", and "it can only be explained by global warming."


Figure 2. The five most expensive natural disasters of 2011, as estimated by Munich Re.

However, the there is a lot of controversy on whether economic losses due to weather-related disasters is increasing due to climate change. A 2010 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Netherlands researcher Laurens Bouwer titled, "Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?", looked at 22 disaster loss studies in various parts of the world. All of the studies showed an increase in damages from weather-related disasters in recent decades. The big question is, how much of this increase in damage was due to increases in population, and the fact people are getting wealthier, and thus have more stuff to get damaged? Fourteen of the 22 studies concluded that there were no trends in damage after correcting for increases in wealth and population, while eight of the studies did find upward trends even after such corrections. In all 22 studies, increases in wealth and population were the "most important drivers for growing disaster losses."

Bouwer's review of these 22 disaster loss studies was critiqued this year by Neville Nicholls of the School of Geography and Environmental Science of Montash University, Australia. His analysis, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, notes that Bouwer's study of damage losses did not include the impact of improvements in building codes and weather forecasting. We can expect both factors to have significantly reduced damages due to storms in recent years. Nicholls concludes, "The absence of an upward trend in normalized losses may be due to a balance between reduced vulnerability (from improved weather forecasting and building techniques) and increased frequency or intensity of weather hazards." In his reply to Nicholls' comments, Bouwer states that Nicholls "provides no support that these factors have actually contributed to a substantial reduction in losses over the period of the last decades."

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Patrap:


Fine Bro,,driving the Rehab VA Therapist crazy though.

I gather yer well too.

Been resting the Joint for when we gets a Hurricane threat,,other dan dat, just driving the coolista's nuts as usual.


Move that arm!!!! Been looking back over the blog to catch up on any news. Some interesting waves to look at.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


Did not know you were there (my family is down there and I visit a few times a year); time to go to the Blue Martini at Galleria Mall and "cool off" on days like that..................:)


I can walk to the Blue Martini from our home.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
Quoting Patrap:
for those on 212..a lil chuckle


STS-135 Execute Packages


Flight Day 2 (184 Kb PDF)


Curiously enough, I found an old photo I took from my back yard in Tampa, of a Discovery launch in 2009. I was surprised I could see it from across the state, but by the time I ran inside and got the camera, the solid boosters had finished, and the wind was already working on the contrails.

Member Since: June 3, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 321
Recon mission scheduled for tomorrow for the SW Caribbean system

WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
1000 AM EDT THU 14 JULY 2011
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 15/1100Z TO 16/1100Z JULY 2011
TCPOD NUMBER.....11-044

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY: POSSIBLE LOW
LEVEL INVEST AT 16/1900Z NEAR 12N 82W.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
000
FXUS62 KMFL 141806
AFDMFL

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
206 PM EDT THU JUL 14 2011

A DEEPER EASTERLY FLOW DEVELOPS LATE INTO THE
WEEKEND AND INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK. THE NORTHERN TIP OF A TROPICAL
WAVE MOVING W THROUGH THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN CARIB...MAY MOVE
THROUGH S FLA EARLY NEXT WEEK. BUT MODELS DO NOT AGREE ON THE
EVOLUTION AS TO WHETHER THE WAVE MOVES THROUGH THE AREA OR A SURFACE
LOW DEVELOPS E OF THE AREA
. SO...UNTIL GUIDANCE BECOMES MORE IN LINE
....LITTLE CHANGE IN THE FORECASTS WITH MINIMAL COASTAL POPS AND
SCATTERED INTERIOR AND W AFTERNOON AND EVENING AT THIS TIME.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurrykane:
The area of disturbed weather near 45W could become an INVEST, as the TUTT is forecast to lift NWWD and semi ridging to build over the disturbed weather, with zonal shear values very low.
It does have some potential. I see a hint of circulation about 43W. Check it out on satellite.
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334. beell
WDPN31 PGTW 141500
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVMARFCSTCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/PROGNOSTIC REASONING FOR TYPHOON 08W (MA-ON)//WARNING NR 13//
RMKS/
1. FOR METEOROLOGISTS.
2. TYPHOON (TY) 08W (MA-ON), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 250 NM SOUTHEAST
OF IWO TO, JAPAN, HAS TRACKED JUST NORTH OF WESTWARD AT 11 KNOTS OVER
THE PAST SIX HOURS. ANIMATED INFRARED SATELLITE IMAGERY AND RECENT
MICROWAVE IMAGERY (141034Z SSMIS AND 141121Z AMSU) SHOW A WELL-
DEFINED EYE WITH SPIRAL BANDING WRAPPING INTO THE LLCC FROM ALL
QUADRANTS. A MAJORITY OF THE DEEPEST CONVECTION REMAINS ALONG THE
SOUTHWESTERN QUADRANT, WHICH IS EVIDENT IN THE AFOREMENTIONED
MICROWAVE PASSES. THERE IS HIGH CONFIDENCE IN THE CURRENT POSITION
BASED ON A MICROWAVE EYE IN THE AMSU IMAGE AND THE 14/1132Z PGTW EYE
FIX. THE CURRENT INTENSITY IS BASED ON DVORAK ESTIMATES RANGING FROM
90 TO 102 KNOTS FROM PGTW, RJTD, AND KNES. RADIAL OUTFLOW CONTINUES
TO BE ENHANCED BY A MESO-SCALE ANTICYCLONE POSITIONED OVER THE
SYSTEM, HOWEVER ANIMATED WATER VAPOR REVEALS THAT UPPER LEVEL
TROUGHING IS CAUSING SLIGHT SUBSIDENCE ALONG THE NORTHERN PERIPHERY
OF THE SYSTEM AND HINDERING POLEWARD OUTFLOW. TROPICAL UPPER
TROPOSPHERIC TROUGH (TUTT) CELLS LOCATED TO THE WEST-NORTHWEST AND
EAST-SOUTHEAST OF THE SYSTEM CONTINUE TO PROVIDE ENHANCED OUTFLOW
INTO THESE REGIONS. VERTICAL WIND SHEAR REMAINS LESS THAN 15 KNOTS.
TY 08W IS CURRENTLY TRACKING ALONG THE SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF A DEEP-
LAYERED SUBTROPICAL RIDGE (STR) POSITIONED EAST OF TOKYO, JAPAN.
3. FORECAST REASONING
A. THERE ARE NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN FORECAST PHILOSOPHY FROM
THE PREVIOUS PROGNOSTIC REASONING BULLETIN.
B. TY 08W IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TRACKING GENERALLY WESTWARD
THROUGH TAU 48 AND INTENSIFY AT A STEADY PACE AS IT TRACKS OVER WARM
SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES (> 30 DEGREES CELSIUS) AND REMAINS WITHIN A
FAVORABLE UPPER LEVEL ENVIRONMENT. AFTER TAU 48, TY 08W WILL BEGIN
TO TURN POLEWARD AS IT MODIFIES THE STEERING RIDGE, WHICH WILL RECEDE
TO THE EAST. A TRANSITORY MID-LATITUDE TROUGH, CURRENTLY LOCATED OVER
EASTERN CHINA, WILL AID IN RIDGE EROSION AND RE-ORIENTATION.
C. AFTER TAU 72, TY MA-ON WILL TURN INCREASINGLY POLEWARD AS IT
HEADS TOWARD THE SOUTHERN ISLANDS OF SHIKOKU AND KYUSHU. ALTHOUGH,
WIND SHEAR IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE AS THE SYSTEM CONTINUES TO TRACK
POLEWARD, TY 08W IS NOT EXPECTED TO WEAKEN SIGNIFICANTLY AS IT
APPROACHES SOUTHERN JAPAN. NUMERICAL MODEL GUIDANCE IS IN GOOD
AGREEMENT WITH THE TRACK FORECAST THROUGH TAU 48, BEFORE NOTABLE
DIVERGENCE OCCURS IN THE LATER TAUS. EGRR AND ECMWF ARE THE WESTERN
OUTLIERS, TRACKING THE SYSTEM FURTHER WESTWARD IN ANTICIPATION OF
DIRECT CYCLONE INTERACTION (DCI) WITH A DISTURBANCE IN THE EAST
PHILIPPINE SEA, BEFORE SHARPLY TURNING THE SYSTEM POLEWARD. NOGAPS
AND GFS ARE THE EASTERN OUTLIERS, CONTINUING TO INDICATE A SHARP RE-
CURVE SCENARIO IN RESPONSE TO A MORE PRONOUNCED WEAKENING OF THE
STR. THIS FORECAST IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PREVIOUS JTWC FORECAST
TRACK POSITIONED SLIGHTLY RIGHT OF CONSENSUS THROUGH TAU 96 IN FAVOR
OF A MORE SOLID STR AND MARGINAL DCI. DUE TO THE WIDE SPREAD IN
NUMERICAL MODEL GUIDANCE IN THE LATER TAUS, THE FORECAST AT TAU 120
REMAINS SLIGHTLY LEFT OF CONSENSUS TO BE CONSISTENT WITH PREVIOUS
JTWC FORECASTS UNTIL MODEL GUIDANCE COMES INTO BETTER AGREEMENT.//
NNNN

Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16729
Quoting Grothar:
Boy, is it hot here today in Ft Lauderdale.


Did not know you were there (my family is down there and I visit a few times a year); time to go to the Blue Martini at Galleria Mall and "cool off" on days like that..................:)
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Buy Weather Underground shirts and mugs
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
Quoting kwgirl:
...Russia has stopped exporting grain. We may have to do that as well...


We have to may do something more drastic than stopping our grain exports - we may actually have to start using it as FOOD rather than changing it to ethenol.

Show those acres of corn to those starving in the world, and tell them "sorry - this food is set aside so our fuel can be E85".

THAT'S a real shame...
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Quoting Hurrykane:
The area of disturbed weather near 45W could become an INVEST, as the TUTT is forecast to lift NWWD and semi ridging to build over the disturbed weather, with zonal shear values very low.
Yea, looking at the CIMSS analysis, some ridging is already present aloft creating good upper divergence and low shear values favorable for development.

Ridging should strengthen with time, but it looks like the center of the anticyclone will head over Central America in a just a few day and shear will increase over the Caribbean as the TUTT pushes back in. We shall see if something can get going, though time will be working against it, looks like right now it has about 3 days before conditions become too hostile.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting Grothar:


I'm back. Was hot there, too! Very hot! Everytime I go somewhere it seems to get hotter than I remember it.


I hear that. just got back myself working in AZ. quite the mess out there. Did stop for a little trip to Homosassa Springs to do some scalloping before I got home which was nice. As far as getting hotter than you remember, I think that comes with age. That happens to the best of us..
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1937
Hi all! Long time lurker, first time poster. Not a stranger to blogs, including weather blogs. Lifelong Florida native with a BS in Meteorology from FSU and working on an MS in Emergency Management. Currently working in the IT field.

Now with that out of the way... I'm interested to read more about the Munich Re article that Dr. Masters posted. Particularly it gets me that it focuses on the uptick in weather related disasters when the 2011 chart clearly shows that over 90% of the year's losses are due to earthquakes and tsunamis, factors excluded from the data. This year's and other recent events don't bode well for the suggested trend that these losses are holding steady.

I'm not one for diving into the AGW/CC discussion (unless I get prodded into it), though I hold my own views. Perhaps though if we can say with reasonable certainty that frequency and magnitude geological disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanos) are holding steady then a baseline multiplyer can be derived to account for population and wealth increases, as well as advancements in building standards and forecasting. This can then be applied to meteorological events to remove that bias and observe any uptick in frequency and magnitude in the disasters themselves. Of course this comes with two drawbacks. First that the frequency and magnitude geological disasters has been constant which would first need to be proven. While somewhat applicable on a global scale, on a local scale you run into problems with places like here in Florida where geological disasters can be all but negated on these timescales.

Just some food for thought... =)
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Quoting Grothar:



I am alone. Can't find the remote. How you doing P?


Fine Bro,,driving the Rehab VA Therapist crazy though.

I gather yer well too.

Been resting the Joint for when we gets a Hurricane threat,,other dan dat, just driving the coolista's nuts as usual.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
Quoting emcf30:


Hey Gro, I take your back from your trip the the other side of the world.


I'm back. Was hot there, too! Very hot! Everytime I go somewhere it seems to get hotter than I remember it.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
Quoting Neapolitan:
The June, 2011, State of the Climate Report has been released. I'm sure we'll hear more about it--climate and weather go hand in hand, including that of the tropical variety--but here's a sneak peek:

NCDC June 2011 monthly state of the climate report (supplemental figures and information)

--June 2011 was the 316th consecutive month with a positive global temperature anomaly. The last month to have a global temperature below its 20th century average was February 1985.

--The global land and ocean surface temperature (land and ocean) was the seventh warmest of the 132 Junes on record.

--June 2011 was the 20th consecutive June, and 121st consecutive month, with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. The last month with above average Arctic sea ice extent was May 2001.

Uh-oh

NOAA Report...
Thanks Nea

It's so freakn obvious the earth is warming, it amazes me we can still have debates on the topic.

I can understand debating on the causes of this warming...there's no conclusive evidence saying this is 100% our fault, I can understand debating on the future climatic consequences of a warmer world, I can understand debating the possible solutions toward preventing further warming, but to deny the fact that we have been warming and are at least part of the cause is incredibly unintelligent and irrational.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting Patrap:


Turn on the A/C,or did she take dat remote as well too?




I am alone. Can't find the remote. How you doing P?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
nice little disturbance in the ITCZ.
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Quoting Grothar:
Boy, is it hot here today in Ft Lauderdale.


Hey Gro, I take your back from your trip the the other side of the world.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1937
Quoting Hurrykane:
The area of disturbed weather near 45W could become an INVEST, as the TUTT is forecast to lift NWWD and semi ridging to build over the disturbed weather, with zonal shear values very low.


It has a lot of dry air in front of it but the wave itself is moistening the area. But if you looks closer just behind between 38-42W I think there is some cyclonic turning trying to go on...although there is no convection.
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Not a very long update but long enough that you might get a few sips of your coffee down when you finish reading. Enjoy.
Watching several areas for Tropical development - none a threat 7/14/11
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Quoting Grothar:
Boy, is it hot here today in Ft Lauderdale.


How ya doin', Gro? Hot there, huh? Ever been to Texas? Lately?
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Quoting Grothar:
Boy, is it hot here today in Ft Lauderdale.


Turn on the A/C,or did she take dat remote as well too?

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
Quoting jasonweatherman2011:
tropical wave coming off of West Africa went up on this map!!


That's a good catch jason..good eye.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667

GOES 13 WV False Colour Image Atlantic,East

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
Quoting Hurrykane:
The area of disturbed weather near 45W could become an INVEST, as the TUTT is forecast to lift NWWD and semi ridging to build over the disturbed weather, with zonal shear values very low.

There!! are you happy now, andrewTEXmet?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Boy, is it hot here today in Ft Lauderdale.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26499
for those on 212..a lil chuckle


STS-135 Execute Packages


Flight Day 2 (184 Kb PDF)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667
Quoting CaneHunter031472:
More facts

Every Climatologist will tell you the Earth's temperature has been much hotter and colder than it is now.


My post#285 still applies as a response to your post# 270.
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The June, 2011, State of the Climate Report has been released. I'm sure we'll hear more about it--climate and weather go hand in hand, including that of the tropical variety--but here's a sneak peek:

NCDC June 2011 monthly state of the climate report (supplemental figures and information)

--June 2011 was the 316th consecutive month with a positive global temperature anomaly. The last month to have a global temperature below its 20th century average was February 1985.

--The global land and ocean surface temperature (land and ocean) was the seventh warmest of the 132 Junes on record.

--June 2011 was the 20th consecutive June, and 121st consecutive month, with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. The last month with above average Arctic sea ice extent was May 2001.

Uh-oh

NOAA Report...
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283. atmoaggie

+1
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The wifes chrome tab was logged in atmo,,dats bayouflower
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128667

ESL by LSU GOES-13 Low Cloud Product

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Quoting atmoaggie:
Umm, far as I can tell, the doesn't work upon a refresh, regardless of browser. You seeing otherwise?

(And I don't even have Inept Explorer installed, haven't used it in 5 years, at least.)


,,just yanking and banking atmo..

No problems in the button prompts in either my Chrome or FF
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Quoting bayouflower:


Well then ya best change to FF cuz it my view @ Home. It be puurr-fect.
Umm, far as I can tell, the doesn't work upon a refresh, regardless of browser. You seeing otherwise?

(And I don't even have Inept Explorer installed, haven't used it in 5 years, at least.)
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Quoting GainesvilleGator:
Dr Masters will typically post something about Global Warming once a week. Is the right to free speech not the first amendment? Be free to disagree but keep it civil.
I never said he couldn't. I said I don't like the comments on the blog which ensue his posts regarding global warming.

Just as he has the right to post whatever he likes, I have the right to like or dislike his blog and leave should I find it annoying enough.

I don't think it will get to that point though, the Atlantic should get its act together soon so the GW topic should relax a little in the process
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting atmoaggie:

Umm, Tuesday, the 26th ?
Most would call Monday, July 18 "next Monday"...


oh crap..Im way ahead of myself..for some reason previously on allan's weather page, I saw the 25th..my apologies.
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The ratio is thus.

A one degree increase in Global Avg Temp,,produces a 4% increase in WV,,

A moister atmo holds a greater potential for chaos.

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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