Letter from the Editor

 Letter from the Editor in Chief Dr. Djillali Benouar

The global annual increase in the occurrence of natural hazards is reflected in world statistics, which has caught the attention of the entire international community. This fact is indicated by the current diversity of actors participating across the globe to achieve the goal of disaster risk reduction. The growing global interest reminds us once again that the mission of reducing the risks associated with naturally occurring events is an opportunity for every one of us. Examples of diversity of possible roles include: international and regional organizations, governments, national and local decision makers, non-governmental and community-based organizations, scientists in all disciplines, teachers and students, and journalists. At present, both the public and private sectors are recognizing the importance of their joint contribution to the ongoing efforts to reduce the negative impacts of natural hazards on humanity and its ecosystems. Natural hazards science and technology is a field that truly shares the real interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary and inter-dependence that characterizes the prediction, monitoring, comprehension and management of all of these naturally occurring phenomena. From the earth sciences to all branches of engineering, and from human sciences to economics, scientific and technical disciplines that previously functioned independently of each other are now working together on the common agenda, integrating their knowledge bases to reduce disaster risk.

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science will contribute effectively to enhance the knowledge and use of science, technology, research findings and innovation for natural hazards understanding, and management for disaster risk reduction and reinforcement of the resilience of communities. For this purpose, there is a clear necessity for the translation of science and technology into practice to deliver more effective actions and measures for disaster risk reduction that are technically possible, economically feasible, and socially acceptable, and which really benefit communities, societies and their ecosystem

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science will stimulate interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary integration and collaboration between all stakeholders; this is why it is such an inspiring task, and one that will have a long-lasting impact on the domain of natural hazards, disaster risk management, and thus sustainable development. It will offer a shared platform to decrease disciplinary restrictions and facilitate a valuable collaboration in the delivery of useful information on this crucial domain of natural hazard and disaster risk management.

As Editor in Chief, with my editorial colleagues, I will explore all the opportunities to expand the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science towards new publications on exploring Information Technology Communications (ITC), Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital social data and Big Data to understand, detect, forecast, monitor and manage natural hazards with better and more timely inputs. It is my hope that every article of the encyclopedia will contain something of interest to all readers in natural hazards science and disaster risk management and that we collectively use our knowledge to strengthen the resilience of societies.

I hereby invite scientists and researchers in all disciplines related to natural hazards who are interested in publishing original research work, including contributions to synthesize the existing literature on one particular topic into a balanced overview of the topic, even for new area of research. Articles should follow an idea from its source to its present state, providing it with a meaningful perspective related to natural hazards. My aspiration is to make the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science a unique reference source for all stakeholders acting together to reduce the impact of natural hazards on human lives, built environments, and ecosystems.

Djillali Benouar, Ph.D.
University of Sciences and Technologies Houari Boumediene (USTHB)
Editor in Chief

Letter from the Former Editor in Chief, Dr. Susan L. Cutter (EIC 2014-2019)

Natural hazards are threats from naturally occurring events that cause harm to humans and the things they value. Natural hazards science examines phenomena and processes that affect humans, and how humans respond to these phenomena. It includes investigations on the origination of events in the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and the exosphere (space) as well as our responses to such events, including: the social processes that govern risk assessment, management, preparation and prevention, mitigation, resilience, and adaptation.

Because the science examines interactions between natural and human systems, multidisciplinary expertise is necessary to clarify the complexities involved -- from the natural sciences and engineering, to the social and health sciences, and the science of policy and governance. Here, the breadth of subject matter ranges from specific hazard types or perils (such as earthquakes, floods or cyclonic storms) to more complex events with cascading or secondary effects. One cascading event we know well: the Tohoku earthquake (shown in the image below) and tsunami in Japan in 2011, which inundated the Fukushima nuclear power plant causing a major meltdown and release of radioactivity, contaminating both the immediate area and other places downwind. In this light, our primary subject matter also includes social themes (such the human consequences and responses to hazard events and mechanisms for reducing impacts through mitigation, risk reduction, and enhanced resilience). Such themes reflect societal processes that aggravate or attenuate hazards exposure and consequences (such as vulnerability, development, and governance and their variability from local to global scales).

Tohoku Earthquake Aftermath

No single individual has the breadth of knowledge across all natural hazard science domains, but collectively we can interact and integrate our research to build a robust and transformative science that helps to explain natural hazards, their impacts, and how we respond to them. This is why this Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science is such an exciting project, and one that will have a lasting impact on the field.

Directly nourishing the vision for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science is the production of quality, synthesis articles that trace the development of the topical area of focus. Written by recognized experts, the articles will address historical and consensus perspectives, along with research trends— what we currently know, what that knowledge is based on, and what is not known. Articles will detail the intellectual antecedents of the topical area as well as key seminal ideas and luminaries who helped shape the field, identify controversies and premiere debates, and finally address the influence of research on public policy and practice. This is a monumental task, but our team is clearly engaged and energized by the potentials at hand.

There are several ways that we can facilitate the integration of the content we will publish toward a more comprehensive, synthetic understanding of natural hazard phenomena. Whether this means assembling articles around defined thematic areas, co-authorship from diverse fields, robust cross-referencing, and more, the synthetic context will prevail. We feel that both the specialist and non-specialist will benefit from such an arrangement: the specialist can gain a broader and more comprehensive view of a topical area and related areas, while the non-specialist can gain the kind of perspective that he or she will need in order to understand a topical area and its referents. More importantly, educators and students can use the resource as a way of discovering past and contemporary trends, including areas requiring more or different research, and of course contextualizing their own contributions to the advancement of natural hazard science.

Susan Cutter

The cornerstone of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science is this digital, online service, coupled with specially-produced curated volumes that will publish on line and in print. As the research community learns valuable knowledge from every disaster, which can be captured and incorporated quickly in this online format, periodic updates and revisions will be important. This dynamic functionality will also serve to keep the encyclopedia current.

My hope is that the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science will be the integrated research hub (or go-to place) for professionals, policy makers, scientists, researchers, educators and students interested in learning more about natural hazard science in both its historical and contemporary contexts. I am excited by the possibility of making a lasting contribution to how our science progresses in its basic understanding and in its research-based applications toward reducing the impacts of natural hazards on society. This timely, innovative project, ever evolving, integrated in content and approach, engaging a team of internationally-acclaimed experts, provides a perfect venue. Understanding that natural hazards affect everyone, everywhere, we embark on this adventure together, and look forward to your comments and feedback.

Susan L. Cutter, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina

Susan Cutter