Global reported natural disasters by type

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What you should know about this indicator

  • EM-DAT defines a disaster as a situation or event which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to the national or international level for external assistance; an unforeseen and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction, and human suffering. Of all EM-DAT disasters, we select geophysical, meteorological, hydrological, and climatological events, which include droughts, earthquakes, extreme temperatures, floods, glacial lake outburst floods, mass movements, extreme weather events, volcanic activity, and wildfires.
  • Drought is defined as an extended period of unusually low precipitation that produces a shortage of water for people, animals, and plants. Drought is different from most other hazards in that it develops slowly, sometimes even over the years, and its onset is generally difficult to detect.
  • An earthquake is defined as a sudden movement of a block of the Earth's crust along a geological fault and associated ground shaking. The data includes the impacts of earthquake events, aftershocks and tsunamis.
  • Extreme temperature is used as a general term for temperature variations above (extreme heat) or below (extreme cold) normal conditions.
  • Extreme weather events include tornadoes, hailstorms, thunderstorms, sandstorms, blizzards, and extreme wind events.
  • Flood is used as a general term for the overflow of water from a stream channel onto normally dry land in the floodplain (riverine flooding), higher-than-normal levels along the coast (coastal flooding) and in lakes or reservoirs as well as ponding of water at or near the point where the rain fell (flash floods).
  • Volcanic activity is defined as any type of volcanic event near an opening/vent in the Earth's surface including volcanic eruptions of lava, ash, hot vapor, gas, and pyroclastic material.
  • A wildfire is defined as any uncontrolled and non-prescribed combustion or burning of plants in a natural setting such as a forest, grassland, brush land or tundra, which consumes natural fuels and spreads based on environmental conditions (e.g., wind, or topography). Wildfires can be triggered by lightning or human actions.
  • A dry mass movement is defined as any type of downslope movement of earth materials under hydrological dry conditions.
  • A wet mass movement is defined as a type of mass movement that occur when heavy rain or rapid snow/ice melt send large amounts of vegetation, mud, or rock down a slope driven by gravitational forces.
  • Glacial lake outburst floods are defined as those that occur when water held back by a glacier or moraine is suddenly released. Glacial lakes can be at the front of the glacier (marginal lake) or below the ice sheet (sub-glacial lake).
  • Fog is defined as water droplets that are suspended in the air near the Earth's surface. Fog is simply a cloud that is in contact with the ground. Currently, the only fog disaster recorded in EM-DAT is the Great Smog of London in 1952.
Global reported natural disasters by type
Number of reported natural disasters in any given year. Note that the historical increase largely reflects improvements in data reporting, and should not be used to assess the total number of events.
EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain (2024) – with major processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
April 11, 2024
Next expected update
April 2025
Date range

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

EM-DAT contains data on the occurrence and impacts of mass disasters worldwide from 1900 to the present day. EM-DAT data includes all categories classified as "natural disasters" (distinguished from technological disasters, such as oil spills and industrial accidents). This includes those from drought, earthquakes, extreme temperatures, extreme weather, floods, glacial lake outburst floods, mass movements, volcanic activity, and wildfires.

Retrieved on
April 11, 2024
Retrieved from
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium -

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To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Global reported natural disasters by type”, part of the following publication: Hannah Ritchie and Pablo Rosado (2022) - “Natural Disasters”. Data adapted from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain. Retrieved from [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain (2024) – with major processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain (2024) – with major processing by Our World in Data. “Global reported natural disasters by type – EM-DAT” [dataset]. EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, “Natural disasters” [original data]. Retrieved July 19, 2024 from