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Floods, droughts and forest fires are highlighted as major threats from natural phenomena in the Mediterranean coastal population

The University of Alicante studies risk perception, useful tool for civil protection and other security bodies.

Going through the difficulties due to effects of natural phenomena makes us more aware in relation to the actions we have to take with respect to the Environment


Alicante, 14 July 2014

Floods, droughts and forest fires are the main threats produced by natural phenomena as perceived by members of the academic community of the University of Alicante. This was confirmed in a study on the analysis of the perception of natural hazards in the University of Alicante, published in Issue 61 of the Journal of the journal Geographical Research, published by the Institute of Geography of the UA. The study has been jointly developed by researchers Rodrigo Rudge Ramos Ribeiro from the Multidisciplinary Institute for Environmental Studies "Ramon Margalef", Jorge Olcina Cantos from the Interuniversity Institute of Geography; and Sergio Molina Palacios from the Department of Marine Sciences and Applied Biology, all members of the UA.  

Based on a survey published on the University of Alicante’s website where eighty participants members of the university community responded via email, experts concluded that it is important to conduct work to provide information on environmental perception, that is to say, on the way people appreciate and value their environment, in order to make the implementation of environmental policies more efficient.  

Floods in 1982 in Alicante is one of the examples the article exposes to show how the Alicante coast, which is a residential area with tourist activity in the Spanish Mediterranean area, is traditionally battered by this phenomenon of high intensity showers, which stand as the most important climate danger in the area of Alicante. This is related to the process of a cold front which often has a negative impact on the territory. So much so that, as the article notes, during the last three decades, torrential rains and floods have caused enormous material losses and human casualties. Extreme temperatures and earthquakes are phenomena that respondents perceive as threats in fourth and fifth place.  

Risk perception is a useful tool for civil protection and other security bodies in decision-making processes. The assessment of the social perception of flood risk requires a joint analysis of the two factors, the natural (or danger), and the human (or exposure and vulnerability).  

The questionnaire was available in late 2012 and was distributed to all the University departments. Of the total respondents, 56% were men and 44% women. It is worth mentioning that 63% of respondents belong to the age group between 30 and 49 and 66% reside in Alicante or San Vicente del Raspeig. 

Experts concluded that, in relation to the perception of the degree they have suffered flooding, the distribution of responses shows a decreasing trend to the highest degree. Experts also reveal what has been observed in the sample in the article that people who experience difficulties due to the effects of natural phenomena are more aware in relation to the actions we should taken with respect to the environment.



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