Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 78 ›› Issue (3): 548-557.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202303003

• Theoretical and Methodological Exploration • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The practice and method of natural disasters situational awareness in the new era

CHENG Changxiu1,2(), PEI Tao3, LIU Yu4, DU Yunyan3, SHEN Shi1, JIANG Jinchao5   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Environmental Change and Natural Disaster, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environment Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    4. Institute of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    5. School of Automation, Hangzhou Dianzi University, Hangzhou 310018, China
  • Received:2022-09-28 Revised:2023-02-24 Online:2023-03-25 Published:2023-03-27
  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China(2019YFA0606901)


Natural disasters and normalized extreme weather have emerged as the main threats to human life with the onset of the Anthropocene. The technological drive of big data and intelligence, the disciplinary basis of big science (planning) and the demand pull of globalized governance and response together constitute the main theme of natural disaster research in the new era. The paper puts forward the concept of natural disaster situational awareness and its two levels: situation understanding and situation predicting. In situation understanding, the paper identifies the differences and connections between traditional disaster observation and big data situational awareness; and systematically compares the research and practice of big data in disaster situational understanding of typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and extreme heat, using social media, cell phone signaling, and video surveillance as examples. In situation predicting, the paper summarizes a series of big data observation, machine learning and mechanical model integration methods and validates them with the evolution simulation of urban flooding events as an example. At the regional or global scale, it proposes that cross-domain integrated situational awareness and prediction should be carried out for some future scenarios defined by the big science (program) and serve the sustainable development of the region; especially, to use the human-earth coupling model to sense the cascading impact and remote effect of disasters on socio-economy, which can be used to eliminate and address non-traditional security threats. Finally, it is recommended that the state should establish relevant research institutions to promote the sharing and application of disaster big data, and carry out the construction of disaster standard knowledge base and training library. It is recommended to further promote the integration and application of mechanism models, big data and machine learning, and promote the coupling of natural disaster human-terrestrial systems to enhance the social governance and decision support capability of natural disasters in China.

Key words: natural disasters, situational awareness, big data, machine learning, coupling of nature and human system