Evaluating Critical Links in Early Warning Systems for Natural Hazards

Carolina Garcia*, Carina Jacqueline Fearnley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial Issuepeer-review

96 Citations (SciVal)


Early warning systems (EWS) are extensive systems that integrate different components of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for the provision of timely warnings to minimise loss of life, and to reduce economic and social impact on vulnerable populations. Historically, empirical research has focused on the individual components or subsystems of EWS, such as hazard monitoring, risk assessment, forecasting tools and warning dissemination. Yet, analyses of natural hazard disasters indicate that, in most cases, it is not the individual components of EWS that cause failure, but the processes that link them. This paper reviews several case studies conducted over the last thirty years, to present common emerging factors that improve links between the different components of EWS. The factors identified include: (1) establishment of effective communication networks to integrate science research into practice; (2) development of effective decision-making processes that incorporate local contexts by defining accountability and responsibility; (3) acknowledgment of the importance in risk perception and trust for an effective reaction; (4) consideration of the differences among technocratic and participatory approaches in EWS when applied in diverse contexts. These factors show the importance of flexibility and the consideration of local context in making EWS effective, whereas increasing levels of standardisation within EWS nationally and globally, might challenge the ability to incorporate the required local expertise and circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Hazards
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2012


  • RISK
  • preparedness
  • geohazards
  • risk awareness
  • community
  • risk communication


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