Image by Oxfam International (source: Flickr)

2010 was a record-breaking year for natural disasters. According to Insurance ERM, a website dedicated to enterprise risk management, this makes 2010 the second-highest year of natural catastrophes since 1980. With a current yearly average of 785 natural catastrophes, 2010 saw in increase of more than 20% in occurrences of natural disasters. Furthermore, the high number of weather related natural disasters like storms and floods, about 90% of all reported catastrophes in 2010, is a further indication of advancing climate change.

Several major catastrophes in 2010 resulted in substantial losses and an exceptionally high number of fatalities. The overall picture last year was dominated by an accumulation of severe earthquakes to an extent seldom experienced in recent decades.
- Insurance ERM website

Five of the natural disasters recorded last year where categorized as “great natural catastrophes” based on the United Nations definition: the earthquakes in Haiti (January 12th), the earthquakes in Chile (February 27th) and the earthquakes in central China (April 13th), the heat-wave in Russia (July to September) and the floods in Pakistan (also July to September).

2010’s natural disasters killed a total of 295.000 people. According to the data from Insurance ERM high numbers of natural catastrophes, in particular hurricanes and earthquake activity, are expected to continue this year and into the future, to some extend due to climate change.

The probability is that climate change is contributing to some of the warming of the world’s oceans. This influence will increase further and, together with the continuing natural warm phase in the North Atlantic, is likely to mean a further high level of hurricane activity in the coming years.
- Insurance ERM website