A natural phenomenon is a non-artificial event in the physical sense, and therefore not produced by humans, although it may affect humans (such as pathogens, aging, natural disasters, death). Common examples of natural phenomena include volcanic eruptions, weather, decay, gravity and erosion. Most natural phenomena, such as rain, are relatively harmless so far as humans are concerned.
Various types of natural phenomena occur, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Geological phenomena (volcanic activity and earthquakes)
- Meteorological phenomena (hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes)
- Oceanographic phenomena (tsunamis, ocean currents and breaking waves)
A natural disaster is the effect of earths natural hazards, for example flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, earthquake, heatwave, or landslide. They can lead to financial, environmental or human losses. The resulting loss depends on the vulnerability of the affected population to resist the hazard, also called their resilience. If these disasters continue it would be a great danger for the earth. This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: “disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability.” Thus a natural hazard will not result in a natural disaster in areas without vulnerability, e.g. strong earthquakes in uninhabited areas. The term natural has consequently been disputed because the events simply are not hazards or disasters without human involvement. A concrete example of the division between a natural hazard and a natural disaster is that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was a disaster, whereas earthquakes are a hazard. This article gives an introduction to notable natural disasters, refer to the list of natural disasters for a comprehensive listing.