Increasing risk of cascading hazards in the central Himalayas

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Cascading hazards are becoming more prevalent in the central Himalayas. Primary hazards (e.g., earthquakes, avalanches, and landslides) often trigger secondary hazards (e.g., landslide dam, debris flow, and flooding), compounding the risks to human settlements, infrastructures, and ecosystems. Risk management strategies are commonly tailored to a single hazard, leaving human and natural systems vulnerable to cascading hazards. In this commentary, we characterize diverse natural hazards in the central Himalayas, including their cascading mechanisms and potential impacts. A scientifically sound understanding of the cascading hazards, underlying mechanisms, and appropriate tools to account for the compounding risks are crucial to informing the design of risk management strategies. We also discuss the need for an integrated modeling framework, reliable prediction and early warning system, and sustainable disaster mitigation and adaptation strategies.

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Natural Hazards