Natural Disasters

In the past century Icelanders experienced 65 natural disaster events on land (in addition to lives lost at sea), which caused severe damage to property and cost more that 90 human lives. Although volcanic eruptions were most frequent,  90% of the fatalities were due to snow avalanches.

Civil Defense is very well organized and implemented in Iceland, and the initial phases of disaster reactions, evacuation, search and rescue have been successfully carried out. However,  only recently has attention been paid to the long term effects of natural disasters on individuals and communities, and measured to assist the recovery of communities who have suffered a trauma.

Currently, the ISS focuses on:

  • Health effects of  volcanic eruptions  -  Ash and Health focusing on the effects of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption on human and animal heath.  A population-based questionnaire study on the perceived effects of the eruption on the exposed population.
  • The efects of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption on air traffic. This is a part of the FP7 project ENHANCE – Enhancing
    Risk Management Partnerships for Catastrophic Natural Disasters in Europe.
  • Long term effects of natural disasters - how to facilitate recovery in communities hit by natural hazards.
  • Adaptation to and mitigation of coastal challenges due to global warming - a multinational project CoastAdapt funded by the Northern Periphery Program funded.
Contact: Dr. Gudrún Pétursdóttir Director of ISS, University of Iceland
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