Population vulnerability models for asteroid impact risk assessment

1Clemens M. RUMPF, 1Hugh G. LEWIS, and 2,3,4Peter M. ATKINSON
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [DOI: 10.1111/maps.12861]
1Atronautics Research Group, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
2Faculty of Science and Technology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
3Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
4School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
Published by Arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

An asteroid impact is a low probability event with potentially devastating consequences. The Asteroid Risk Mitigation Optimization and Research (ARMOR) software tool calculates whether a colliding asteroid experiences an airburst or surface impact and calculates effect severity as well as reach on the global map. To calculate the consequences of an impact in terms of loss of human life, new vulnerability models are derived that connect the severity of seven impact effects (strong winds, overpressure shockwave, thermal radiation, seismic shaking, ejecta deposition, cratering, and tsunamis) with lethality to human populations. With the new vulnerability models, ARMOR estimates casualties of an impact under consideration of the local population and geography. The presented algorithms and models are employed in two case studies to estimate total casualties as well as the damage contribution of each impact effect. The case studies highlight that aerothermal effects are most harmful except for deep water impacts, where tsunamis are the dominant hazard. Continental shelves serve a protective function against the tsunami hazard caused by impactors on the shelf. Furthermore, the calculation of impact consequences facilitates asteroid risk estimation to better characterize a given threat, and the concept of risk as well as its applicability to the asteroid impact scenario are presented.

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