Spatiotemporal Changes in Tornado Hazard Exposure: The Case of the Expanding Bull's Eye Effect in Chicago, IL

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Walker S. Ashley, Northern Illinois Univ., DeKalb, IL; and S. Strader and T. Rosencrants
Manuscript (737.9 kB)

Handout (1.8 MB)

Exposure has amplified rapidly over the past half century and is one of the primary drivers of increases in disaster frequency and consequences. Previous research on exposure change detection has proven limited since the geographic units of aggregation for decennial censuses, the sole measure of accurate historical population and housing counts, vary from one census to the next. To address this shortcoming, this research produces a set of gridded population and housing data for the Chicago, IL region to evaluate the concept of the "expanding bull's eye effect". This effect argues that “targets” — people and their built environments — of geophysical hazards are enlarging as populations grow and spread. A collection of observationally derived synthetic violent tornadoes are transposed across fine-geographic scale population and housing unit grids at different time stamps to appraise the concept. Results reveal that intensifying and expanding development is placing more people and their possessions in the potential path of tornadoes, increasing the likelihood of tornado disasters. The research demonstrates how different development morphologies lead to varying exposure rates that contribute to the unevenness of potential weather-related disasters across the landscape.