Mapping 2011’s natural catastrophes

In 2011,  Newsweek published an environmental ranking of the world’s largest companies. Insurance giant Munich Re took the number one position. When it comes to understanding risk and uncertainty, nobody does it better. It is hardly surprising the company takes sustainability so seriously. Here is Munich Re’s 2011 natural catastrophe global map, published 4 January.

Munich Re totalled 820 natural catastrophes in 2011. 90% were weather-related – however, nearly two-thirds of economic losses and about half the insured losses stemmed from geophysical events, principally from the Japanese and other earthquakes. Normally, it’s weather-related natural catastrophes that domiate losses. On average over the last three decades, geophysical events accounted for just under 10% of insured losses. The distribution of regional losses in 2011 was also unusual: around 70% of economic losses occurred in Asia.

Munich Re notes that while its analysis deals with insured losses, the biggest humanitarian catastrophe in 2011 stemmed from the prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa. Coupled with political instability, the drought resulted in countless deaths from starvation.

US research agency NOAA has also published a similar map but focussing on 2011 climate events.

Extreme events in 2011

Rank Event When Occurred
1 East Africa Drought Ongoing
2 Thailand Flooding July–October
3 Eastern Australia Flooding December 2010–February 2011
Austral Summer
4 Consecutive La Niña Events Throughout 2011
5 Brazil Flash Floods January 6th–12th
6 Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong) December 16th–17th
7 Arctic Sea Ice Extent Throughout 2011
8 Colombia Rainfall March–May
9 Mexico Drought Throughout 2011
10 European Drought September–November

Reference: NOAA-NCDC 

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