Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute (HVRI)


USC research spotlights recovery disparities

Through a grant from the National Science Foundation, HVRI researchers have been investigating Hurricane Katrina recovery along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The repeated visits over the past 5 years are intended to gain insight into which places recover faster than others and why. Click here for more details.
31 August 2010

Dr. Cary Mock's research on reconstructing historical hurricances featured.

Using British maritime ship logs from the 18th and 19th centuries, Dr. Mock is reconstructing hurricane occurrence in the Atlantic Ocean. The reconstructed data will help shed light on current hurricane trends. Click here for more details.
26 August 2010

Chris Burton and Eric Tate Accepted for PASI

Christopher Burton and Eric Tate, were selected and supported to attend the Institute for Integration of Research on Climate Change and Hazards in the Americas in Panama City, Panama, June 14-25, 2010. Objectives of the institute are to:

  1. identify, engage, and integrate scholars and practitioners with on-going activities of major organizations around the relationship between climate change and hazards
  2. interrelate knowledge domains between climate change and hazards using geographic technologies
  3. develop a collaborative research and educational agenda that communicates across disciplines and sectors

The event is co-organized by the Association of American Geographers, the PanAmerican Institute for Geography and History, the US Geological Survey, the National Communication Association, and the UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. Funding is provided by the NSF's Pan American Advanced Studies Institute Program (PASI).

16 March 2010

Oxfam America Applies SoVI

Oxfam commissioned HVRI to develop a series of layered maps that depict social and climate change related vulnerability. The maps assist in identifying hotspots in the Southeastern U.S. that are a significant risk in the face of four particular climate change related hazards. Click here for more details.
21 October 2009

Post-Doctoral Research Position Available

HVRI is seeking a Post-Doctoral researcher to assist in on-going research and development examining disaster recovery along the Mississippi coast, advancing vulnerability science, and examining community resilience indicators. The deadline for applications is October 30, 2009 or until the position is filled. Click here for more details.
02 October 2009

Susan Cutter Interviewed About Hurricane Hugo

The radio piece, titled Hurricane Hugo 20th Anniversary: Hurricane Preparedness: was conducted for Walter Edgar’s Journal on NPR.
28 September 2009

Jennifer Webb Wins Poster Award

Jennifer Webb won second place in the graduate student poster competition at the annual DHS START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Reponses to Terrorism) meeting
28 September 2009

Will Graf named to Corps Advisory Board

The Environmental Advisory Board to the Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a group of scholars and practioners who are responsible for advising the most senior-level managers of the Corps on ways to ensure that the mission of the organization includes a focus on environmental restoration as well as the more traditional roles of flood mitigation and navigation. The board interacts directly with teh Chief of the USACE and with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Public Works in meetings in Washington as well as in field inspections throughout the nation.
03 September 2009

"Death Map" Released

Studies on natural hazard mortality are most often hazard-specific (e.g. floods, earthquakes, heat), event specific (e.g. Hurricane Katrina), or lack adequate temporal or geographic coverage. This makes it difficult to assess mortality from natural hazards in any systematic way. This paper examines the spatial patterns of natural hazard mortality at the county-level for the U.S. from 1970–2004 using a combination of geographical and epidemiological methods. For more information, see Science Daily.
17 December 2008

Susan Cutter appointed as Munich Re Chair in Social Vulnerability

The Munich Re Foundation and the UN University (UNU-EHS)in Bonn appointed Susan Cutter as a Chair in Social Vulnerability, extending the commitment to social vulnerability research to 2012. The aim of the chair is to provide training for international students in the various aspects of disaster management and prevention. For more information, visit the Munich Re Foundation.
15 December 2008

SCGA receives National Geographic grant to develop online hazards atlas

The National Geographic Education Foundation has awarded a grant to the South Carolina Geographic Alliance to develop an online hazards atlas for South Carolina. The atlas will include maps of major threats to the state as well informational text and lesson plans. This new atlas updates The South Carolina Atlas of Environmental Risks and Hazards, originally published as a CD by the University of South Carolina Press in 1999. For more information see the project page.
November 2008

2008 Ellison Fellowship Awarded to Melissa Berry

The Institute for Southern Studies awarded Melissa a research fellowship of $4,000 to complete her thesis entitled "Insurance as it relates to natural hazards: A case study of Florida counties, 1997-2006. For more information see Institute for Southern Studies.
19 May 2008

2008 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awarded to Eric Tate

The Graduate Research Fellowship is a highly competitive and prestigous award that provides Eric with three years of support ($120,000). Eric's research focuses on how the traditional single hazard-built environment vulnerability analysis can be modified to include other important considerations such as social vulnerability, multiple and concurrent hazards, and ecosystem services. His hypothesis is that the integration of these components will produce a distinct and more representative view of the magnitude and spatial variation in hazards vulnerability. This has relevance for how communities plan, prepare, and respond to hazards. For more information see NSF.
15 April 2008

Temporal and Spatial Changes in Social Vulnerability to Natural Hazards

During the past four decades (1960–2000), the United States experienced major transformations in population size, development patterns, economic conditions, and social characteristics. These social, economic, and built-environment changes altered the American hazardscape in profound ways, with more people living in high-hazard areas than ever before. To improve emergency management, it is important to recognize the variability in the vulnerable populations exposed to hazards and to develop place-based emergency plans accordingly. The concept of social vulnerability identifies sensitive populations that may be less likely to respond to, cope with, and recover from a natural disaster. Social vulnerability is complex and dynamic, changing over space and through time. This paper presents empirical evidence on the spatial and temporal patterns in social vulnerability in the United States from 1960 to the present. Using counties as our study unit, we found that those components that consistently increased social vulnerability for all time periods were density (urban), race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The spatial patterning of social vulnerability, although initially concentrated in certain geographic regions, has become more dispersed over time. The national trend shows a steady reduction in social vulnerability, but there is considerable regional variability, with many counties increasing in social vulnerability during the past five decades. Download this paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
14 February 2008

Presidential Disaster Declarations and Hazard Occurrences

This paper examines geographic inequities between major hazard events and U.S. presidential disaster declarations at the county level from 1965 through 2004. The previous literature suggest that the disaster declaration process is highly politicized and not necessarily based on need. We hypothesize that there is a spatial inequity between the receipt of disaster declarations and the distribution of major hazard events. The results indicate that the geographic distribution of disaster declarations is not totally explained by the spatial pattern of major hazard events. In some locales, state experience in submitting disaster requests and achieving success translates into more disaster declarations (holding everything else constant), providing further evidence of the political nature of the process.Download the paper from the Professional Geographer.
1 February 2008

Benchmarking Urban Vulnerability to Terrorist Incidents

We describe a quantitative methodology to characterize the vulnerability of U.S. urban centers to terrorist attack, using a place-based vulnerability index and a database of terrorist incidents and related human casualties. Via generalized linear statistical models, we study the relationships between vulnerability and terrorist events, and find that our place-based vulnerability metric significantly describes both terrorist incidence and occurrence of human casualties from terrorist events in these urban centers. We also introduce benchmark analytic technologies from applications in toxicological risk assessment to this social risk/vulnerability paradigm, and use these to distinguish levels of high and low urban vulnerability to terrorism. It is seen that the benchmark approach translates quite flexibly from its biological roots to this social scientific archetype. Download the paper from Risk Analysis
1 December 2007

Eric Tate wins 2008 Jeanne X. Kasperson Award

The Hazards Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers awarded Eric the 2008 Jeanne X. Kasperson Student Paper Award for his paper "Web-Based Hazards and Social Vulnerability Assessment". This research summarizes the findings of his work on automated, web-based hazard assessments for counties in South Carolina. More information here.
15 November 2007

SoVI Featured on the EIIP Virtual Forum

The Emergency Information Infrastructure Project (EIIP) hosted a virtual forum on Estimating Disaster Resilience: The Social Vulnerability Index of the United States (SoVI). During this forum Dr.Cutter discussed the creation of the SoVI, as well as the potential uses of the index within the emergency management community. (Transcript) More information about SoVI, including data and maps are available here.
13 June 2007

Elizabeth Dunn awarded top honors at Annual University Network Summit on Research and Education

Elizabeth Dunn was among the four students awarded top honors at the Annual University Network Summit on Research and Education for her poster, "Terrorism's Spatiality and Identity through Media Content Analysis". Her work is supported through the START Center.
26 March 2007

Student wins top prize at Applied Geography conference

Jennifer J. Webb won first place in the student paper competition at the 29th Annual Applied Geography Conference held in Tampa, FL in October 2006. Her paper, "Vulnerability to Flooding in Columbia County, PA: The Role of Perception and Experience Among the Elderly", was derived from her master's thesis at Binghamton University (SUNY).
29 October 2006

Mitchell Discusses the Chlorine Spill in Graniteville, SC

Dr.Mitchell presented the report, "Evacuation Behavior in Response to the Graniteville, South Carolina Chlorine Spill," to The Emergency Information Infrastructure Project (EIIP) Virtual Forum. (Transcript) This report was supported by the Natural Hazards Information and Applications Center Quick Response Grant Program. A copy of this report is located at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/qr/qr178/qr178.html.
22 March 2006

Announcing the Winner of the 2006 Grad Student Prize

Congratulations to Ms. Ke Liao at the Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, who was this year's winner of the Transactions in GIS graduate student presentation prize. The prize was awarded at the UCGIS 2006 Summer Assembly. Ms. Liao's paper, “A Clustering-Based Approach to a Special Capacitated Facility Location Problem”, was based on her work on the START project, and will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal.

New Hazards and Vulnerability Book Published

Hazards, Vulnerability and Environmental Justice by Susan L. Cutter was just published by Earthscan. See http://styluspub.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=130311 for details.

New Publication in Tourism Management

Dr. Jerry Mitchell recently was published in Tourism Management for an article concerning the perception of risk at an agricultural fair.

Mitchell, J. T. 2006. “Conflicting Threat Perceptions at a Rural Agricultural Fair.” Tourism Management. 27(6): 1298-1307.

Hazards Research Lab Participates in Carolina Masters Scholars

For more information, click here.