Tsunami human vulnerability and risk assessment: a globally applicable method

Tüfekçi Enginar, Duygu
Natural processes that shape the Earth pose danger when they interact with human life and property. Despite their infrequent occurrences, tsunamis are among the most destructive natural phenomena, causing damage to coastal areas since the earliest civilizations. Over time, humanity has continuously developed strategies to mitigate the adverse impacts of such hazards. Risk assessment is a key step in mitigation strategies, involving the determination of potential worst-case hazard scenarios and identifying communities and assets that might be affected. This thesis proposes methodologies for assessing vulnerability and risk applicable to any coastal area globally under the threat of a possible tsunami hazard. These methodologies advocate for using open-source datasets and reduce expert dependency in assessing tsunami human risk. For hazard assessment, three different open-source digital elevation models are selected and evaluated for their performance in tsunami inundation modeling. Human vulnerability to tsunamis is then investigated from two perspectives: one based on the spatial conditions of people at the time of an event, and the other on the level of awareness and preparedness within the threatened community. The former investigates the use of open-source datasets and data-driven methods for spatial assessment of human vulnerability. The latter identifies tsunami-specific components for evaluating public awareness and preparedness and proposes a pathway to generate a proxy for scoring this evaluation at the national level. These methods form different elements of disaster risk assessment: hazard, vulnerability, and awareness and preparedness. For each element of risk, the results of developed methods that promote expert/data independency are compared with those relying on the presence of experts and high-resolution data. The benefits, drawbacks, and potential future developments of the proposed methodology are discussed.
Citation Formats
D. Tüfekçi Enginar, “Tsunami human vulnerability and risk assessment: a globally applicable method,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2024.