Articles | Volume 19, issue 12
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 2677–2700, 2019
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 2677–2700, 2019

Research article 02 Dec 2019

Research article | 02 Dec 2019

Difficulties in explaining complex issues with maps: evaluating seismic hazard communication – the Swiss case

Michèle Marti et al.

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Cited articles

Becker, J. S., Paton, D., Johnston, D. M., and Ronan, K. R.: Salient beliefs about earthquake hazards and household preparedness, Risk Anal., 33, 1710–1727,, 2013. 
Bodemer, N. and Gaissmaier, W.: Risk Communication in Health, in: Handbook of Risk Theory, edited by: Roeser, S., Hillerbrand, R., Sandin, P., and Peterson, M., Springer-Verlag, Zurich, Switzerland, 623–660, 2012. 
Bostrom, A., Anselin, L., and Farris, J.: Visualizing seismic risk and uncertainty: A review of related research, Ann. NY Acad. Sci., 1128, 29–40,, 2008. 
Budescu, D. V., Por, H. H., Broomell, S. B., and Smithson, M.: The interpretation of IPCC probabilistic statements around the world, Nat. Clim. Change, 4, 508–512,, 2014. 
Bundesamt für Statisik: Sprachen, available at: (last access: 1 January 2017), 2015. 
Short summary
Maps are an established way to illustrate natural hazards and regularly used to communicate with non-experts. However, there is evidence that they are frequently misconceived. Using a real case, our study shows that applying or disregarding best practices in visualization, editing, and presentation significantly impacts the comprehensibility of seismic hazard information. We suggest scrutinizing current natural-hazard communication strategies and empirically testing new products.
Final-revised paper