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GCSE Geography | What Is Hazard Risk and What Affects It? (Natural Hazards 2)

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Last updated 19 Jul 2023

Hazard risk is the probability of being affected negatively by a natural event - for example people who live close to tectonic plate margins are at a higher risk of tectonic hazards, and people who live within the Tropics are at a higher risk of extreme weather events, such as tropical storms or droughts.

People choose to live in areas at risk of natural hazards for many reasons, including economic benefits such as resources and jobs, not wanting to leave because of family ties, not thinking the risk is great enough, and practical reasons such as not having enough money to move, not having knowledge of other places, and not being able to speak other languages.

What affects hazard risk?


People living in poverty may have to live in more risky places, as land is cheaper, such as steep slopes on the edge of urban areas - Rio de Janeiro is a good example of this where hundreds of thousands of people have built homes in favelas on the steep mountain sides, putting them at risk of landslides.


As people move into cities the pressure on land increases and people may be forced to live in areas which were previously thought to be too risky, such as steep slopes (see above) or floodplains. Also, many people live in informal settlements which are poorly constructed and will not withstand a natural hazard. In addition the increase in population density means that more people are at risk, for example Tokyo is the most populated city in the world, and has very high population density. It is also in an area of tectonic activity putting millions of people at risk.


Farmers may choose to live on floodplains, or on the slopes of volcanoes to benefit from the fertile soils that come from previous flood events that cover the land in fertile alluvium, or old eruptions where the lava has added nutrients to the soil. This happens mainly in developing nations where people need to live where they can grow the most food.

Climate change

As global temperatures increase many places are seeing more extreme weather, including droughts, floods and intense storms. Also, the geographic patterns for climate hazards changes – there are more areas at risk.

What is Hazard Risk and What Affects it? | AQA GCSE Geography | Natural Hazards 2

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