Over the past 20 years the costs of natural disasters have escalated significantly. The lives of over 800 million people have been disrupted and the number of catastrophes has nearly quadrupled. At present, the increasing global threat of natural disasters, in spite of our increased knowledge, is ominous. With the growth in world population, the increasing of resources in newly developing areas, and the increasing cost and sophistication of engineering structures and technical installations, there is an urgent need to seek to understand the potential threats posed by natural hazards and to ascertain the best ways of mitigating their damaging effects.
To meet this urgent threat, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in December 22, 1989 passed a Resolution which declared the 1990s to be the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). As a contribution to the decade, the International Symposium Hazards--91 was held in Perugia, Italy, during 4--9 August 1991. The conference was attended by specialists from 34 countries, and a total of 110 papers were presented at 20 sessions, covering a very broad range of topics which proved to be of significant value for future research. The sixteen articles included in this book provide a unique overview of the state-of-the-science in geophysical hazards including climatic, atmospheric, hydrological and geological hazards. Furthermore, the results of a panel on the IDNDR and the recommendations adopted during the meeting are presented at the end of this volume. Recent Studies in Geophysical Hazards is thus an excellent reference source for scientists, engineers, and policy makers.