The magnitude of a disaster’s impact cannot be easily assessed because there is no global method that provides real magnitudes of natural disaster severity levels. Therefore, a new universal severity classification scheme for natural disasters is developed and is supported by data. This universal system looks at the severity of disasters based on the most influential impact factor and gives a rating from zero to ten; zero indicates no impact and ten is a world-wide devastation. This universal system is for all types of natural disasters, from lightning strikes to super volcanic eruptions and everything in between, that occur anywhere in the world at any time. This novel universal classification system measures, describes, compares, rates, ranks, and categorizes impacts of disasters quantitatively and qualitatively, thereby making the severity index applicable to diverse stakeholder groups, including policy makers, governments, responders, and civilians, by providing clear definitions that help convey the impact levels or severity potential of a disaster. Therefore, this universal system avoids inconsistencies and, primarily, connects severity metrics to generate a clear understanding of the degree of an emergency and improves mutual understanding among stakeholder groups. Consequently, the proposed universal system generates a common communication platform and improves understanding of disaster risk, which aligns with the priority of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030.
This research was completed prior to Covid-19, but the pandemic is briefly addressed in the discussion section.