Climate change, population growth, urbanization and development in natural hazard-prone regions are exacerbating risks to life, health, infrastructure, security and well-being from extreme weather and other disasters. As international organizations, governments, the private sector and financial institutions spend billions of dollars responding to such disasters, the models they rely on to help them mitigate and manage such catastrophic events suffer from significant gaps that undermine their effectiveness.
This project would further develop, test and implement an open-source catastrophe model to forecast more accurately the risk of tropical cyclones and the damage that they would likely cause. Current catastrophe models, used primarily by the insurance industry, have serious deficiencies, including that they generally fail to account for climate change; they are not transparent about their methodology; and they focus on risks in which the insurance industry has a stake, often leaving out damage that has a greater impact on socioeconomically marginalized communities. By contrast, our proposed model would not only use transparent methodology and be publicly accessible, it would also take into account the best science, incorporating the impact of climate change.
Strategy for Impact
This project aims to partner with an international organization, such as the World Bank, with the idea of integrating the modeling into their decision-making when addressing disaster preparedness, resilience and response. The project would also partner with the reinsurance industry to leverage that industry’s loss modeling experience and to improve their capacity to provide business responses to climate change. To assess the model’s quality, it would be compared to other catastrophe models for natural hazards through a process known as intercomparison, now the standard in the climate science community, convening approximately a dozen leading academic and insurance models for the first time to carry out comparable calculations and to share and compare the results. If effective, the model would improve decision-making by those in the public and private sectors who work in hazard-prone regions; provide tools to communities worldwide to address the impacts of coastal hazards in our changing climate; catalyze the development of a new set of models and tools for modeling other natural disasters, in which universities can play a key role; and introduce a new standard of openness and scientific rigor to the broader field of catastrophe modeling. The project would also demonstrate that universities can play an important role in this field and would strengthen the partnership between the academic, private and nonprofit sectors.
- Jane Baldwin (Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)
- Suzana Camargo (Columbia University Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory)
- Chia-Ying Lee (Columbia University Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory)
- Adam Sobel (Columbia University Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics)
- Michael Tippett (Columbia University Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics)
- ETH Zurich
- International Society of Catastrophe Modelers
- Oasis Loss Modeling Framework
- Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
- Swiss Re
- World Bank