Research Projects

The research activities of the Natural Hazards Center focus on the social, behavioral, socioeconomic, mental health, and other societal aspects of hazards and disasters, using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches. Current and recently-completed projects involve research with a range of population groups, including potentially vulnerable groups such as children, elderly persons, and low-income populations. Studies explore topics throughout the hazards cycle, from mitigation and preparedness to response and recovery. Various types of hazards are addressed in the Center’s research portfolio, ranging from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes to toxic hazards and technological disasters. Research activities span urban and rural areas in the U.S. and other countries. Studies frequently involve collaborations with researchers from engineering and natural science disciplines.

The Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder is a national and increasingly global clearinghouse that collects and disseminates research findings and other information on the societal dimensions of hazards, disasters, and risk.

The CONVERGE Facility establishes and supports a new Extreme Events Reconnaissance Research Leadership Corps that connects researchers from different disciplines, develops best practice guidelines for reconnaissance research, and supports public communications in the event of a major disaster.

This project establishes a scientific platform and coordinating network for Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) and a second platform and network for Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Extreme Events Research (ISEEER). SSEER and ISEEER will draw upon insights from the science of team science (SciTS) and leverage databases and information resources available at the University of Colorado Boulder Natural Hazards Center to increase the capacity of the social science, engineering, and interdisciplinary hazards and disaster research communities. The ultimate vision for the work is to prepare individual researchers and teams to carry out extreme events rapid reconnaissance research that is coordinated, comprehensive, coherent, ethical, and scientifically rigorous.

In collaboration with USGS, the Natural Hazards Center is leading an interdisciplinary team of six Bill Anderson Fund Fellows through an iterative process that leverages their unique insights, lived experiences, and commitment to addressing the disproportionate impacts of disasters in minority communities to support an inclusive engagement strategy for the HayWired scenario.

The State of Colorado, through House Bill 23-1237, appropriated funds to the Natural Hazards Center to assess the current state of emergency alert and warnings systems in Colorado. Specifically, the study seeks to identify areas to improve inclusive language and access for emergency alert systems. The outcomes of this study will include a summary report of the findings submitted to elected officials in January 2024.

The U.S. Geological Survey has funded the Natural Hazards Center to conduct research that will assess the readiness, willingness, and ability of K-12 schools in Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington to adapt their emergency plans to include Earthquake Early Warning Systems.

This project summarizes the state of knowledge about disaster risk communication in an annotated bibliography and synthesizes key concepts into a practitioner-oriented guidance document. These products are tailored to highlight concerns related to social vulnerability.

The U.S. Geological Survey National Landslide Hazard Program and the Natural Hazards Center have partnered to share resources and interdisciplinary expertise with counterparts in Puerto Rico for the development of landslide outreach materials. These will complement the scientific products being developed by the USGS landslide team and their partners at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez.