What's New in Knowledge | May 2024

Welcome to the March edition of What's New in Knowledge. Led by AIDR Manager Knowledge Development John Richardson, this monthly blog series collates key research, reports and public interest journalism from across the disaster resilience space.

The Centre for Research in the Epidemiology of Disasters have released their annual 2023 Disasters in Numbers Report, with 399 reported disasters, 86,473 deaths, over 16million people affected, and $US202.7 billion in losses.

The Australian Climate Service has released a new Heat Health Index tool which helps Australians examine their heat/health risks.

In the US, FEMA have released its National Resilience Guidance for comment. It seeks to promote a common understanding of resilience, emphasise the critical relationship between chronic community stressors and shocks, address the roles of all stakeholders, provide an actionable approach to resilience planning and implementation, and incorporate a community resilience maturity model that walks through concrete steps to build resilience.

In understanding consequences and recovery, the critical issue of compounding cyclones impact on household income and expenditure is the focus of this research. This study looks at compounding disasters and mental health. This research identifies 223 challenges in managing post disaster reconstruction projects, and classified them into 9 categories.

Global hotspots for climate related disasters are detailed in this report. Place making post Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans gets examined in this research paper on citizen driven approaches. This paper looks into prosocial behaviours post-earthquake in Italy, focusing upon cooperation and fairness.

An excellent paper by the always excellent Denise Blake on a topic that gets little attention, disaster impacts on drug users. This paper looks at housing decision making by people in temporary accommodation. Flooding in outback WA has caused a long term cut to a major highway between WA and NT. The recovery from Cyclone Seroja in Western Australia continues after 3 years, highlight the long term nature of recovery. In Lismore, business owners are still finding it challenging after the floods.

Looking at knowledge, while focussed on Canada, this podcast series looks into the future at what it might look like in 2080.This is useful for thinking about future plausible and possible scenarios.

In thinking about systemic risk, the OECD have released a report on Infrastructure for a Climate Resilient Future, with a focus on mainstreaming climate resilience, nature based solutions, and integrated approaches to regions and cities. The Accelerator for Systemic Risk Assessment has launched Principles for Systemic Risk Assessment and Response for its first anniversary. Infrastructure Victoria has released Weathering the Storm Adapting Victoria’s Infrastructure to climate change which looks at what is required to build resilience into systems. This is an interesting article on turning off the electricity grid to prevent bushfires. David Lallemant takes us through the integration of climate and disaster resilience in this TED Talk.

In disaster risk reduction, UNDRR have released a guide on financing anticipatory action (which is code for doing good planning). This research examines awareness and preparedness of older adults in Canada. This research examines the tension between formal flood risk management practices in the US (eg. relocation), and informal practices (eg. social capital). This paper looks at social capital among Cyclone Haiyan survivors in the Philippines and how they managed through the pandemic.

This paper looks at developing a network assessment to help resource exchange patterns between voluntary organisations active in disasters in the US. This paper examines community participation in forest fire management in Iran.

This research looks into disaster resilience and household food security in Japan, finding over half of the respondents do not have food security. While on food security this is research on food security resilience in Melbourne.

The ABC report looks at how architecture and construction are looking at adapting buildings to flood, using examples in Lismore. This paper from the European Environment Agency analyses scaling aspects for nature based solutions focusing on the economic and social characteristics of their implementation.

Looking at First Nations knowledge, this article from the US examines the integration of indigenous and  western knowledge for forest climate adaptation. First Nations mental health and climate change is the focus on this guidance from the US. In Samoa, traditional knowledge about weather is passed down through stories. 

For children and young people, this research looks at children and young people’s perspective on disasters. Minecraft helps students understand extreme heat risks. This article helps parents talk to their kids about the knife attacks in Sydney. The use of art in classrooms to communicate flood risk is the focus of this piece. Save the Children bring us a report on child centred early warning systems.

Recognising inequity as the root cause of disaster risk, this is a useful paper on how to bring inequity into climate and disaster risk analyses. This research on the development of a disaster subculture among marginalised people in South Korea is really interesting. This report from Germany examines the potential for empowering women as catalysts for climate adaptation. The Conversation examines what is needed for good crisis communications for people with disabilities. The Flames of Change report looks into disability inclusion into risk reduction and prevention measures for heat and bushfire governance.

Considering animals in disasters, this quarter’s Australian Journal of Emergency Management features papers from the Global Animal Disaster Management Conference. This sobering analysis looks at survival rates of animals rescued after the Black Summer bushfires.

Looking at weather matters and climate change, the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group have released a report titled Too Hot to Handle, on what they consider to be the reality of Australia’s climate/Security nexus. This article looks at the impact of climate change on reinforced concrete building stock. Germany has released its third monitoring report on its national strategy for adaptation to climate change. The UNEP has released its 2024  Climate Risk Landscape Report, identifying a range of enhancements around collaboration across industries, emerging functionalities for compliance and stress testing, integration of AI, and enhanced collaboration around data access.

The WMO has released its State of the Climate Report for Asia in 2023. The focus is on the UK’s transport system adapting to  climate change in this strategy. Excellent to see a guide for journalists on climate change and biodiversity. The International Labour Organization have released a report on the health impacts of climate change on workers. This report focuses on climate change and migration and displacement in the context of coastal cities. This briefing note examines the importance of including human mobility in National Adaptation Plans. This article from The Conversation focuses on how weather prediction is getting better, despite public opinion to the contrary.

There’s been quite a focus on different hazards, this research details a new way of looking at landslide shapes and failure types. While on landslides, this article focuses on nature based solutions to reduce risks, and this one outlines a researchers personal experience with landslides.

The flooding in Dubai certainly captured people’s attention, with debate about whether it was caused by cloud seeding. This article from the World Weather Attribution looks at its causes. While this one explores the notion of climate engineering.

The Taiwan Earthquake was notable for its deaths and damage to property, bringing home the importance of building to construction codes.

More research has linked climate change to increased bushfires in the US. While in Australia, this article highlights the scale of the Northern Australia fires of 2023 (hint, bigger than Black Summer). Water quality close to bushfire events is the focus of this paper. Propublica in the US turns its gaze to the burnout of firefighters after a number of gruelling fire seasons.  

The Baltimore bridge disaster continues to generate interest on its cause, and the risks to infrastructure. The knife attacks in Sydney also attract attention, as to their frequency, and why one is considered a terror attack, and the other isn’t. Dust off your Rock movies, as scientists believe an earthquake on the San Andreas fault is imminent. Flash droughts are becoming more common in Australia and this article outlines why. What might the next super outbreak of tornadoes in the US look like, ponder experts?

Focussing on extreme heat, this is an interesting collaboration between NOAA and the Centre for Disease Control in the US on heat risk tools. This is an app that helps people develop their plans for heat risk. Looking in completely the opposite direction, this study looks at death from extreme cold in the UK, and preparedness measures. Cold related deaths in Australia are largely hidden, but are a reality, with over 14,500 deaths a year.

This article looks at hidden issue of heat risk governance. This research is a systematic review of Urban Heat Island and Heatwaves between 1991 and 2022. This one investigates concurrent heatwaves and extreme sea levels, and it finds that they are increasing across the globe. German Red Cross have developed a manual for community cooling centres. The Sweltering Cities team released the results of their 2024 summer survey with some significant findings on the cost of using air-conditioning, and people feeling unwell on extreme heat days. Dark rooms make homes 10 degrees warmer in research released by Sweltering Cities.

The Global Heat Health Information Network News has a number of excellent articles, with a call of for health plans to be submitted as part of a showcase of good practice, an article on the heat impacts on men’s fertility, and how some states in the US are rolling back protections for outdoor workers.

In health, Red Cross’ Psychosocial Reference Centre has just released a training guide, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies. Another article on eco-anxiety, this one looking at the toll on scientists. This article reiterates the importance of community engaged/based research for managing health crises.

This paper details a world first platform for examining how bushfire smoke affects heart and lungs. This research looks at social media use by institutions to communicate bushfire smoke risks in the US. The EXHAUSTION White Paper from Europe looks into heat, air pollution and climate change. The GFDRR have developed and released Frontline, a scorecard for climate and disaster resilience in health care systems.

Looking at governance, leadership, and capacity building, this article looks at how inmates from prisons are used for firefighting, and raises concerns about lack of protections for them.

Examining the frontiers in technology, this paper looks into using AI to enhance disaster debris estimation. Information technology and pedestrian evacuation behaviour is the focus of this Korean research. Real time disaster monitoring based on disturbance assessments using machine learning is edging closer. AI is assisting with better monsoonal rain prediction for over a billion people in Asia.

Back in time

A survivor from the HMAS Voyager reflects on the disaster 60 years ago, and the bell from a shipwreck in the Tweed River 85 years ago is salvaged and tolls again.

Did you know?

What causes a sinkhole?

In good news

This is a confronting but ultimately hopeful article by James Bradley, based on his book Deeper Water, on the challenges ahead for us.

Sources: Darryl Glover, Isabel Cornes, Elissa Berry, Sandra Whight, Global Disaster Preparedness Center.