Vulnerability

Papua New Guinea is vulnerable to several hazards, including floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis, and sea-level rise. Some of these are expected to increase in frequency, magnitude, and intensity due to climate change. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon has already been observed to have an increasingly negative effect on PNG’s climate, triggering more intense drought and flood events. 

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.

Metadata

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.


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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
  • Most of PNG experiences flooding during the monsoons. The highlands in particular, where average rainfall can reach 10,000 mm, have a long history of severe floods. In the coastal plains, floods cause erosion and heavy sedimentation that impact agricultural productivity and downstream settlements. In the lowlands, coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, estuaries, and coral reefs endure damage due to heavy silt loads and debris brought in by flood events. About 18% of total landmass is permanently inundated or regularly flooded. 
  • Droughts affect the Southwestern plains, Central Province plains, Cape Vogel area, Markham valley, Bulolo valley, Maprik–Angoram area, and areas on the Eastern Highlands and Madang Provinces.
  • Landslides are a common occurrence in the high mountainous regions of PNG and frequently damage vital infrastructure, upland forests, and the homes and gardens of thousands of residents. According to a World Bank Hotspot study, PNG ranks first in terms of landslide hazard profiles due to its steep mountain ranges, high seismicity, and high annual rainfall.
  • Sea-level rise is strongly influenced by the El Nino Southern Oscillation, as rainfall patterns shift and sea surface temperatures rise. The effects of sea-level rise are already apparent in the Katarets Island and the Motlocks, near the Solomon Islands, where much land is now underwater. 

More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.

  • As the rural population of PNG continues to grow (at 2.8 percent per year), the frequency, intensity, and magnitude of extreme weather events will rise.
  • Climate change is likely to place water resources will under additional stress in years to come.
  • Papua New Guinea is ill-equipped to identify and manage climate risks due to low recognition of hazard and weak monitoring systems.