A Contribution to the Problem of Disaster Classification:
The Parametrization of Impact and Loss

I. V. Kuznetsov, V. F. Pisarenko, and M. V. Rodkin

Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy

Received February 17, 1997

Abstract—Three parameters are proposed as a basis for disaster classification: the first describes the type of
disaster (trend, extreme, and disturbance types), the second describes the economic loss, and the third, loss of
life. Disasters are assigned to one of the three types on the basis of the ratio of the destroying factor in that disas-
ter to the magnitude of background impacts of a similar physical nature. For various types of disasters, there
are systematic differences in the ratio of the economic losses to the number of victims and in the pattern of
empirical distributions of disasters in terms of their magnitude and predictability. The characteristic loss is
defined either as the average damage inflicted by that type of disaster upon a specific area or as the expected
damage. The parametrization proposed can be applied easily to anthropogenic and natural–anthropogenic
disasters, thus extending the conceptual framework of disaster research, and providing a convenient tool for
working out strategies to reduce the damage caused by disasters.