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PhD project – Integrative Perspectives on Natural Hazards and Society in Alpine Valleys

Since 02/2015 (University of Graz, Doctoral Academy Graz, Doctoral School for Geography and Regional Science, FWF Doctoral Programme Climate Change: Uncertainties, Thresholds and Coping Strategies)


The aim of the PhD project is to investigate natural hazards in three Alpine valley regions in Austria in an integrative approach, looking on both the physical as well as on the human dimension of natural hazards. The special characteristic of the project is the close interdisciplinary cooperation between geography, economics and philosophy. The research is built on the following pillars:

One part deals with the human dimension of Alpine natural hazards by investigating the hazard and risk perception of the local population, including local knowledge and communication. Information is obtained via questionnaires answered by the local population and interviews with stakeholders, and is integrated into a human-ecological model.

A further part – a geography-philosophy cooperation – tackles the issue that geographical research may upset persons even though it is ethical. So far issues about this kind of research have received hardly any attention in Geoethics. It is an attempt to begin to fill this gap by exploring three ethical questions about ethical but upsetting geographical research.

In another geography-philosophy cooperation, the aim is to examine if the investigated expectations regarding hazard protection of the local population are legitimate from a normative perspective, and the significance of the results for the moral evaluation of natural hazard policies is analysed.

A geography-economics approach investigates how future natural hazard scenarios might develop under climate change conditions and analyses the consequences for endangered areas, vulnerability and economic risk. This is achieved by modelling the possible increase in damages caused by climate change, including uncertainty measures, as well as possible coping strategies.

Additionally, the history of natural hazards in context to climate and land cover changes will be unravelled, in order to analyse the cross-connections and to identify possible threshold criteria for natural hazard events.


Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) and Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

Mag.rer.nat. Bakk.rer.nat.

Florian Ortner

Mag.rer.nat. Bakk.rer.nat. Florian Ortner Büro des Rektors

& Department of Geography and Regional Science & FWF-DK Climate Change
Universitätsplatz 3, 8010 Graz, Austria

Phone:+43 (0)316 380 - 1006

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