Rip currents are the cause of an average 21 confirmed human fatalities per year, compared with 5.9 for bushfires, 4.3 for floods, 7.5 for cyclones and 1 for sharks.
"Rips account for greater overall loss of human life than other high profile natural hazards. Yet they do not get anywhere near as much attention and dedicated funding," says Dr Rob Brander, a coastal geomorphologist at UNSW, and lead author of the study.
The study is published in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth Science Systems.
Australia has about 11,000 mainland beaches with an estimated 17,500 rip currents operating at any given time. Rip currents are strong, narrow seaward-flowing currents that can easily carry unsuspecting swimmers significant distances offshore, leading to exhaustion, panic and often drowning.
An analysis of data from Australia's National Coronial Information System shows there was an average 21 confirmed deaths involving rips per year during the period 2004 to 2011.
"And this is likely to be an underestimate because there has to be a witness to an event who saw the person was caught in a rip, and then this information has to be included in the coronial report," says Dr Brander, a co-author on the study which was published earlier this year and led by researchers from Surf Life Saving Australia.
For the new study Dr Brander's team used information from the Australian Emergency Management Institute National Disaster Database to identify the average number of deaths per year caused by tropical cyclones, bushfires and floods since the mid-to-late 1800s.
In addition, the Australian Shark Attack File administered by Taronga Zoo in Sydney shows there has been an average of one death a year since 1962.
"Other types of hazards, like bushfires, have the capacity to claim large numbers of lives in a single event. On the other hand, rip currents are almost always present and rarely result in more than one death at a time. But in the end, more people die as a result of them," says Dr Brander.
"As rip current are a global problem, it is hoped that this study can be applied in other countries to more appropriately place the rip current hazard in perspective with and context of other natural hazard types."
Media contacts:Dr Rob Brander
Deborah Smith | EurekAlert!
Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy