Belize is vulnerable to hurricanes, storms and associated flooding, wind damage, and storm surge, especially in Belize City. The country’s low-lying terrain exacerbates the effects of flooding and sea level rise. Belize is also at risk to extreme temperature events. According to the Natural Disaster Hotspot study by the World Bank, Belize is the 61st highest exposed country for relative mortality risk from multiple hazards in the world and ranked 8th out of 167 countries for climate risk.
This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.
The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.
Climate change is now recognized to have a significant impact on disaster management efforts and pose a significant threat to the efforts to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable populations. The demands of disaster risk management are such that concise, clear, and reliable information is crucial. The information presented here offers insight into the frequency, impact and occurrence of natural hazards. Source (PDF)
Understanding natural hazard occurrence as well as historical climate conditions, in relation to development contexts, is critical to understanding a country’s historical vulnerability. This tool allows the visualization of different natural hazards or historical climate conditions with socio-economic and development datasets. Select the Development Context and either a Natural Hazard or Climate Condition and overlay horizontally by sliding the toggle left or right to gain a broader sense of historically vulnerable areas.
Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals.
This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.
- Belize is a country prone to cyclone events and has experienced 14 storm events during the period 1931- 2010, with tremendous damage to the agriculture and tourism sectors specifically.
- The country’s low-lying terrain in coastal areas enhances areas prone to flooding as a consequence of hurricanes and other storms.
- Belize is at risk to flooding when its many rivers (that originate in the high mountains in the east) are impacted by torrential rainfall.
- Belize’s major infrastructure such as public buildings, health, commercial and transportation facilities are located on or near the coast, which makes them extremely susceptible to sea level rise.
- Some areas of Belize experience drought conditions on a yearly basis. The projected increases in temperature make it highly likely that these areas will experience drought conditions.
More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.
- Hurricanes and tropical storms are the principal hazards affecting Belize, causing severe losses from wind damage and flooding due to storm surge and heavy rainfall.
- Projected increases in storm intensity will have impacts on the economic sectors across the country.
- Belize City is especially vulnerable to flood damage due to its low-lying land and exposed positions on the coast.
- Storm hazards are expected to become stronger and develop more rapidly; greater variations in precipitation are predicted to result in droughts and floods.
- Climate change models have predicted that Belize will undergo a warming and drying trend and is expected to endure more frequent heat waves and droughts, rainfall with increased intensity and rising sea levels as predicted for the rest of the Caribbean consistent with the projected global median.
- Changes in sea surface temperatures as a result of climate change variability could increase the intensity of cyclones and heighten storm surges, which in turn will cause more damaging flood conditions in coastal zones and low-lying areas.