Environmental Risk Assessment


1. Understanding of the nature and approaches to environmental risk phenomena;

2. Acquisition and training of tools to assess major environmental risks, in a number of inter-related domains: climate risk, territorial risk, water use risk, industrial risk, ecological and human risk.

3. Practical application on environmental risk assessment, in the perspective of risk management and decision support.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

João Miguel Dias Joanaz de Melo, Maria Helena Ferrão Ribeiro da Costa


Weekly - 4

Total - 56

Teaching language



Available soon


Birkmann J (Ed) (2006) Measuring Vulnerability to Natural Hazards. Towards Disaster Resilient Societies. United Nations University Press,Tokyo.

Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I, Wisner B (2003); At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability and Disasters, London: Routledge.

Julião R.P, Nery F, Ribeiro JL,Branco MC Zêzere JL (2009) Guia metodológico para a produção de cartografia municipal de risco e para a criação de sistemas de informação geográfica de base municipal. ANPC,DGOTDU, IGP.

Schmidt-Tomé P (2005) The Spatial Effects and Management of Natural and Technological Hazards in Europe, ESPON 1.3.1, European Community.

Smith K (2004) 4rd Ed., Environmental Hazards, Routledge: New York.

Jorgensen SE, Constanza R, Xu FL Eds (2004) Handbook of Ecological Indicators for Assessment of Ecosystem Health. CRC PressBruins (Eds) (2004) Economics and Ecological Risk Assessment: Applications to Watershed Management (Environmental and Ecological Risk Assessment). CRC Press

Teaching method

A combination of different teaching methods is employed: lectures with high level of interaction with the students (Socratic method); exercises on specific techniques in and out of class; seminars with invited speakers; presentation of assignments with discussion; development of practical assignments that integrate the course materials.

Teaching language may be Portuguese or English depending on students´ origin.

Evaluation method

The evaluation is based on assignments, written papers or presentation and discussion in class.. Weight of assignments by module: 1 (climatic risk) 15%, 2 (risk on the territory) 15%, 3 (risk related to water) 15%, 4 (industrial risk) 25%, 5 (contamination risk) 30%. Delays in delivery of papers imply a penalty in the grading.

Subject matter

Introduction: Concepts of hazard and risk; probabilistic nature and uncertainty of risk phenomena; perception of environmental risk.

1. Climate risk: climate variability, extreme phenomena and their impact on economic activities and human health.

2. Territorial risk: causes and consequences; expression in Portugal; integration of risk assessment in spatial planning and management.

3. Risk related to water use, particularly, dams and other hydraulic works, pollution events, and water supply systems; water safety plans.

4. Industrial risk: hazards identification; construction of accident scenarios; statistic and probabilistic models for the quantification of risk; modelling of accidents with hazardous chemicals; industrial accident prevention; environmental responsibility. Case studies.

5. Methods for ecological and human health risk assessment: problem definition, scenarios, modelling of effects, communication; environment contamination and associated risks.


Programs where the course is taught: