C. Lienert, L. Hurni

ETH Zurich, Institute of Cartography, Zurich, Switzerland



The overall goal of the Swiss Virtual Campus project Dealing with Natural Hazards and Risk (NAHRIS) is to create a common educational course program that compiles the most recent knowledge in the field of natural hazards and risk management. Several Higher Education Institutes from all parts of Switzerland were involved in the realization of this Internet course platform. NAHRIS is primarily targeted at University students on the BSc level. However, it also enjoys growing popularity among researchers and practitioners employed in these working areas.

The main novelty of NAHRIS lies in the holistic examination of the natural hazard and risk management domain including technical, environmental and social aspects. Four of five learning modules address in a rather sectoral way the most prevalent issues such as Knowledge and Tools (Module 1), Hydrological and Meteorological Hazards (Module 2), Geological and Tectonic Hazards (Module 3) and Vulnerability (Module 4). The module Integral Natural Risk Management (Module 5) integrates the foregoing modules. The whole internet course is structured hierarchically, consisting of modules, topic groups and learning units.

Cartography takes a significant position both in Module 1 and in NAHRIS as whole. This is because assessments of dangerous natural processes demand knowledge of basic issues and tools which are mostly common when dealing with all such dangers. From a technological viewpoint, the novelty of NAHRIS is also that it applies various interactive web-applications such as navigation tools, individual thematic map composition and data exploration. As to contents, cartographic concepts and tools are presented in the topic group Data Presentation of Module 1. Specifically aligned for NAHRIS, they cover the need for data presentation and visualization, along with the definition of various map users. The aim, use and principles of thematic and topographic cartography are then described and contrasted. Another learning unit is devoted to the use of map symbols. Furthermore, different data standardization and data classification methods are shown so that thematic data can be properly compared and represented. Consequently, colour hue, brightness and saturation are theoretically and exemplarily addressed as colours are applied to thematic symbols in order to maintain a good readability. The importance of quantitative visualizations such as diagrams and choropleth maps are also discussed in more detail. Digital cartographic applications, including GIS and CAC, are covered in the following learning unit and their varying capabilities are highlighted. Uniform guidelines and standards for natural hazard phenomena mapping conclude Module 1 of NAHRIS.