Overall risks from climate-related impacts are evaluated based on the interaction of climate-related hazards (including hazardous events and trends) with the vulnerability of communities (susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to adapt), and exposure of human and natural systems. Changes in both the climate system and socioeconomic processes -including adaptation and mitigation actions- are drivers of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability (IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, 2014). Iraq is most susceptible to floods, droughts, dust storms, climate-related epidemics, and earthquakes.

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.

Natural Hazard Statistics

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.

Natural Hazard / Development Nexus

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.

Key Vulnerabilities
  • Flooding is mainly a result of the yearly fluctuation in the annual discharge in the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The Tigris River floods during the spring period between February and June, while the Euphrates floods from March through July. Water levels in the Tigris River can rise over 30 cm per hour, which causes flooding and the collapse of levees, mainly in the southern parts of Iraq.
  • Dust storms in Iraq are normally caused by strong winds that carry large amounts of sand across long distances. Iraq experiences two types of dust storms: haboobs and shamals. Haboobs are sudden and tend to be high speed, short-lived events, while shamals are slower but can last for days.
  • In recent years, the frequency and intensity of dust storms have increased due to low soil moisture. Soil moisture reduction is enhanced by accelerated urbanization, agriculture, droughts and upstream dams on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Dust storms normally reduce visibility to less than 1600 meters in several parts of Iraq, disrupting air and road transportation, and cause serious health consequences and loss of human productivity.
  • Yearly river flow fluctuations are partly responsible for periodic severe droughts in Iraq. Rainfall rates have declined, falling 25-65% below normal levels, prolonging drought periods and augmenting impacts on agricultural yields.

More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.

  • Increased river fluctuations are expected to intensify flood occurrences.
  • Decreased precipitation rates might lead to longer and severe droughts.
  • Increase in water pollution and contamination is likely to intensify epidemics, particularly cholera.
  • Increase in drought periods is likely to decrease agricultural production with significant impacts on livestock production.
  • Increase in floods is expected to aggravate damage to infrastructure.
  • Increase in droughts might increase rural-urban migration, increasing pressure on the already strained urban social and economic infrastructure.