Preface: Advances in meteorological hazards and extreme events
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
covered various topics related to the science of the Atmospheric Environment, which is in fact an interdisciplinary field, giving the opportunity to understand the physical systems and environmental processes in an integrated manner. The featured papers shed light to advances and current trends in the considered meteorological hazards and extreme events, such as tornadoes, heat waves and extreme temperature indices, droughts, floods, convective precipitation, landslides, medicanes
... tropical like cyclones) and wildfires, using recorded datasets, model simulations and innovative methodologies. Hazard (or cause) may be defined as a potential threat to humans and their welfare and risk (or consequence) as the probability of a hazard occurring and creating loss. Unlike hazard and risk, a disaster is an actual happening, rather than a potential threat, thus, a disaster may be defined as the realization of hazard. The term environmental hazard has the advantage of including a wide variety of hazard types ranging from natural (geophysical) events, through technological (man-made) events to social (human behaviour) events. Meteorological hazards and extremes constitute natural environmental hazards caused by atmospheric disturbances. Disaster risk arises when hazards interact with physical, social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. The impact of disaster can be transferred from one region to another. This, compounded by increasing vulnerability related to several factors, such as population growth, land pressure, urbanization, social inequality, climate change, political change, economic growth, technological innovation, social expectations, global interdependence, environmental degradation, competition for scarce resources and the impact of epidemics, points to a future where disasters could increasingly threaten, among others, the sustainable development of agricultural regions (Smith, 2013). Sustainable development, socio-economic improvement, good governance, and disaster risk reduction are mutually supportive objectives. Recent research findings suggest that variability of climate, if encompassing more intense and frequent extremes, such as major large-scale environmental hazards like droughts, heatwaves or floods, results in the occurrence of natural disasters that are beyond our socio-economic planning levels. This is expected to stretch regional response capabilities beyond their capacity and will require new adaptation and preparedness strategies (Salinger et al., 2005) . Disaster prevention and preparedness should become a priority and rapid response capacities to climate change need to be accompanied by a strategy for disaster prevention. Nevertheless, each type of extreme events has its own particular climate, cultural and environmental setting, and mitigation activities must use these settings as a foundation of proactive management. There is an urgent need to assess the forecasting skills for natural disasters affecting mainly agriculture and other sectors of the economy in order to determine those where greater research is necessary. It is well known that lack of good forecast skill is a constraint to improve adaptation, management and mitigation. Seasonal to interannual climate forecasting is a new branch of climate science, which promises reducing vulnerability. Improved seasonal forecasts are now being linked to decision making for cropping. The application of climate knowledge to the improvement of risk management is expected to increase the resilience of farming systems. A more integrated approach to environmental hazards has been gradually attempted using common methodologies, Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union.