The stunning map of ‘aerosol Earth’: Nasa reveals the invisible particles from wildfires, tropical storms, and other phenomena around the worldCheyenne Macdonald For Dailymail.com Aerosols are all around us.A stunning new map from NASA plots the millions of unseen particles swirling throughout the skies, showing everything from dust and sea salts to smoke from wildfires raging in the US and Canada.The map combines data from satellites and sensors on the ground, helping to reveal the exact location and intensity of different phenomena around the world.Aerosols are both liquid and solid particles suspended in the atmosphere, and can affect temperatures down at the surface.‘Depending upon their size, type, and location, aerosols can either cool the surface, or warm it,’ NASA explains.‘They can help clouds to form, or they can inhibit cloud formation. And if inhaled, some aerosols can be harmful to people’s health.’A slew of NASA satellites are able to pick up on these tiny particles, including Terra, Aqua, and Suomi NPP.The space agency models aerosols with the Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing (GEOS FP), using mathematical equations to represent the processes happening around the world.The new map focuses on aerosols spotted on August 23, showing several different hotspots worldwide linked to different processes.Aerosol levels fluctuate throughout the year in different regions due to different environmental processes.The map highlights three different types of aerosols: sea salt, black carbon, and dust. Black carbon, associated with fires, can be seen in high amounts over the US West Coast and Canada, and in sub-Saharan Africa.In northern Africa, on the other hand, dust is the key contributor to aerosol concentrations, as with parts of Asia and the Middle East.Typhoon activity on the other hand, gave rise to higher atmospheric sea salt off Japan and South Korea.‘Some of the events that appear in the visualization were causing pretty serious problems on the ground,’ NASA explains.WHAT ARE AEROSOLS?Aerosols are both liquid and solid particles suspended in the atmosphere, and can affect temperatures down at the surface.‘Depending upon their size, type, and location, aerosols can either cool the surface, or warm it,’ NASA explains.‘They can help clouds to form, or they can inhibit cloud formation. And if inhaled, some aerosols can be harmful to people’s health.’ Aerosols are associated with all sorts of different processes, with concentrations fluctuating in different locations depending on the time of year.Over South America, for example, aerosols occur in higher amounts from July through September due to land clearing and agricultural fires.And from May through August, these particles rise around the Arabian Peninsula as a result of dust stor,s.In some areas, elevated amounts are the result of human activity and pollution.‘On August 23, Hawaiians braced for torrential rains and potentially serious floods and mudslides as Hurricane Lane approached. Meanwhile, twin tropical cyclones – Soulik and Cimaron – were on the verge of lashing South Korea and Japan.Related slideshow: The beautiful and distinctive shapes of atolls, seen from space (Quartz)‘The smoke plume over central Africa is a seasonal occurrence and mainly the product of farmers lightning numerous small fires to maintain crop and grazing lands.‘Most of the smoke over North America came from large wildfires burning in Canada and the United States.’The map also shows night light data captured by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, showing different towns and cities, NASA notes.
Rescuers struggle to reach stranded in Myanmar dam floodingYe Aung THU, Phyo Hein KYAW,•Rescuers in boats negotiated muddy waters on Thursday to reach thousands stranded in central Myanmar after a dam overflowed, sending a torrent of water across farmland and villages.No casualties have yet been reported but state media said more than 63,000 people in Bago region were affected after the Swar Chaung dam overflowed early Wednesday morning.The dam’s spillway, a structure that controls the release of more than 20,000 cubic metres of water held in Swar Chaung’s levee, was broken by seasonal rainfall.
It is the second major flood caused by damage to dam in weeks in the region, after at least 35 people were killed, scores left missing and thousands displaced by a collapsed hydropower facility in neighbouring Laos.AFP reporters in Bago province saw soldiers sporting orange life jackets employed to rescue the stranded, steering tin boats to waiting villagers huddled on mudflats.Trucks were lodged in murky waters while roads had buckled under the weight of the waters, which continued to flow across the villages.Reeling from the loss of his home, Wai Lin Aung, 27, said there was no warning from authorities on what to do after the dam overflowed.”No one told us what we needed to do so we just monitored the water levels and as the situation became worse, we just ran,” he told AFP, adding that he had stayed at a monastery overnight.
„How can I feel comfortable seeing my house destroyed? I have nowhere to live and nothing to eat.”
Myanmar experiences a monsoon season that goes from June to November, but locals in Yedashe township said that they have never witnessed such a torrent of water.
„It was like something we couldn’t believe,” Phyu Thi, 35, said.
The heavy weight of the floods also fractured part of a bridge on the Yangon-Mandalay highway linking Myanmar’s two biggest cities, throwing the country’s traffic artery into disarray.
Minister of Construction Han Zaw said Thursday that 500 people are working to fix the road, which will take about two days.
„(We) are trying to get the situation of transportation back to normal as much as we can,” Han Zaw said.
Currently more than 12,600 people have taken shelter in about 30 temporary camps, but many others are at a loss for what to do.
Kyi Win, 46, managed to return to his village to check on the state of his home but said he will continue staying in a temporary shelter.
„Some of the houses are completely destroyed,” he said, explaining that the toilet of his house has been wrecked. „For now, I’ll stay (at the monastery) because I can’t come back here.”
The deluge comes just weeks after heavy monsoon rains pummelled Myanmar, causing widespread flash floods that forced some 150,000 people to flee their homes.
Northeast finally cooling off as a new storm moves to the Midwestoriginally appeared on abcnews.go.com
Record highs were reported in several cities on Wednesday, including Boston and Providence at 98 and 95 degrees, respectively.
Today should be the last hot and humid day in the Northeast as the heat wave should let up beginning tomorrow. A heat advisory is in effect today throughout much of the New York City and New England areas.
As Northeast temperatures begin dropping later tonight and tomorrow — with some areas seeing decreases of 20 to 30 degrees — showers and storms are possible along the Interstate-95 corridor beginning this afternoon.
Wisconsin is experiencing record flooding this morning, and a new storm is heading for the Midwest. That system likely will move into the Plains today and the Great Lakes on Friday, as southwestern Wisconsin could get hit hard again.
Stretching from the Midwest to the East Coast, many regions are expecting additional rainfall through Saturday. Parts of already-saturated Wisconsin may see 3 more inches, exacerbating flooding concerns. Parts of the Northeast may see similar totals.
By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – More than a thousand Puerto Rican families who fled Hurricane Maria will get two more weeks of U.S.-funded housing in hotels and motels across the country but will then need to fend for themselves, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman in Worcester, Massachusetts, rejected an advocacy group’s request to stop federal officials from cutting off the aid to people who fled the massive September 2017 storm that killed almost 3,000 people and destroyed homes and infrastructure across the island.
Lawyers for a group of Puerto Ricans pursuing the lawsuit argued that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to terminate aid violated their due process rights. They also said FEMA’s support was unequal compared to how it aided victims of other U.S. hurricanes in 2017.
The judge rejected their request to require FEMA to continue providing aid to evacuees until they obtained temporary or permanent housing. He told the agency to continue to pay so the evacuees can remain until Sept. 14.
He said the evacuees failed to establish that they were entitled to continued benefits under the federal statute governing FEMA aid.
„While this is the result that I am compelled to find, it is not necessarily the right result,” Hillman wrote. He added that he could only apply the law and not require FEMA „to do that which in a humanitarian and caring world should be done.”
FEMA spokeswoman Dasha Castillo said the agency was aware of the ruling and was notifying participating hotels that the aid program was being extended.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, an advocacy organization that represented the Puerto Ricans in the case, said it is considering its options.
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with winds close to 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour) on Sept. 20, 2017, causing an estimated $90 billion in damage to the already economically struggling U.S. territory.
A study commissioned by the territory’s government and released on Tuesday found that the storm caused about 2,975 deaths, not 64 as counted previously.
Critics have said the federal government responded poorly to the disaster. They contend President Donald Trump’s administration viewed Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens, a claim it denies.
According to FEMA, 1,038 families displaced by Maria as of Thursday were receiving aid under a program that pays for hotel lodging. Since its launch, the program has helped 7,032 families.
FEMA had planned to end the program on June 30 but courts had blocked it.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Scott Malone and Phil Berlowitz)
After the governor of Puerto Rico raised the island’s official Hurricane Maria death toll to nearly 3,000 people, Puerto Ricans felt a range of emotions ― anger, frustration, grief ― but few were surprised.
“I’m outraged but not surprised,” said Mariana Teresa Hernandez, a Puerto Rican mother who sent her two kids, ages 6 and 7, to live with their father in Chicago after post-storm power outages forced their school to shut down. “I knew from the start that things were really bad.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló increased the official count of those killed by the hurricane and its aftermath from 64 to 2,975 people, following the release of a new report commissioned by the governor and published by researchers at George Washington University. The revised figure would make Maria the deadliest U.S. natural disaster in over 100 years.
Rosselló’s government was repeatedly criticized for sticking to the death toll of 64, even as experts argued it was likely a vast under-estimation of the actual number of fatalities caused by the September 2017 storm and its damage, including widespread monthslong power outages.
Outside reports have produced estimates of the death toll far above the former official count. A New York Times analysis in December concluded that the death toll was more than 1,000 people. A Harvard study in May estimated that over 4,600 people died in the storm’s aftermath. Weeks ago, the Puerto Rican government quietly conceded that the count was likely more than 1,400 people in a report to Congress requesting more recovery funds.
For Puerto Ricans who survived the storm and have since heard harrowing stories about people who died in its aftermath, the higher official toll confirms what they already knew.
“I was not surprised that the number was that high,” said 56-year-old Wanda Acosta, who lives in Rincon, a town on the island’s west coast. Her close friend’s mother died in the hospital following the storm, after the electricity was cut off, she said. “It was tragic.”
Acosta called the previous official death count ― which the government maintained for over 11 months after the storm ― an “insult to all the families that lost a loved one.”
Mariluz Núñez, a cancer patient profiled by HuffPost, had to flee the island on a humanitarian flight to Florida one month later. After her house lost power, she began overheating and losing weight. Her doctor’s machinery was running on a generator and unable to complete necessary tests. Her friend, also a cancer patient, died two weeks after the hurricane.
Learning of the updated death toll this week, Núñez’s 21-year-old son Jeancarlo said he was “incensed.”
“I feel incensed, but not only because of the new figures of how many people died, but rather for the lack of importance that has been given to the issue,” he said, noting that the government had not made updating the death toll a priority. “It’s a lack of respect for those who died and their families, as well as all Puerto Ricans.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Tuesday that the Trump administration was “supportive” of Rosselló’s “efforts to ensure a full accountability and transparency of fatalities” from the storm.
“I only hope they don’t get hit again,” Trump said. “Puerto Rico had a lot of difficulties before it got hit.”
The Trump administration has been criticized for its slow and uneven response to Maria compared to its handling of disasters on the mainland. A March report in Politico showed that the administration had sent far more support last year to Texas after Hurricane Harvey than it did to Puerto Rico after Maria, both in terms of the speed and size of the assistance.
“It’s still an unfolding humanitarian crisis and this federal government has refused to address the situation accordingly,” said Samy Nemir Olivares, 27, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico and whose parents still live on the island. “It feels infuriating and frustrating to see no response when literally thousands of people, American citizens,” have died.
Life along the world’s most polluted river
Factory waste, including dyes from the many textile factories in the region, stain a jackfruit and discarded cloth on a tributary of the Citarum river on Aug. 27, 2018, outside Bandung, Java, Indonesia. (Photo: Ed Wray/Getty Images)
Despite the fact that the Citarum River has been named the world’s most polluted river by the World Bank, around 28 million people in Indonesia depend on it for irrigation and electricity — as well as nearly 80 percent of the capital city’s water supply.
Based on reports, more than 20,000 tons of waste and 340,000 tons of wastewater are disposed of directly into the waterways of the third-biggest river in Java every day from thousands of textile factories, killing nearly 60 percent of the river’s fish species and causing health problems for people who live along the banks of the polluted river.
In recent years, the Indonesian government has vowed to clean the Citarum River as studies from environmental groups had found that levels of lead in the river reached 1,000 times the U.S. standard for drinking water, but the problem has persisted due to the lack of coordination, maintenance and enforcement. (Getty Images)
Photography by Ed Wray/Getty Images
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Last year’s multiple wildfires and Category 5 hurricanes caused billions of dollars in damage to the homes and personal property of the people in their paths. Those who had sufficient homeowners insurance were at least compensated for their losses. But those who lacked coverage almost certainly also suffered a financial calamity.
How do you know whether you have the right type and amount of home­owners insurance to protect you from the financial fallout that can result from a fire or natural disaster?
To find out, we surveyed 19,100 Consumer Reports members who live in areas hit by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, or the California wildfires last year. These people are in a unique position to tell you what you need to do to protect your home, family, and belongings before disaster strikes. Forty-five percent of those in Irma’s wake had property damage, as did 15 percent of those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Although only 2 percent of the people in areas swept by California’s wildfires had property damage, 26 percent of them had their homes completely destroyed.
Here are five lessons CR members learned that could protect you from devastating financial loss if disaster—natural or otherwise—strikes.
Review Your Coverage
Just over half the people in our survey review their homeowners insurance coverage at least every few years.
Know What’s Covered
While there are exceptions for people who live near the Texas coast, standard homeowners policies typically cover damage from wind, fire, explosions (such as from a propane tank), lightning strikes, hail, and other perils. That means that hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires should be covered by most policies. Any outbuildings on your property—like a garage, shed, or fence—are also usually covered. Damage to outbuildings was the most common problem reported by our survey respondents.
If your home is uninhabitable after a storm, your homeowners (or renters) insurance should also reimburse you for living expenses, such as a hotel room or meals out. (Five percent of our survey respondents who had property damage said they couldn’t live in their home after a hurricane; 42 percent said they had to stay elsewhere after damages from a wildfire.) This benefit is generally limited to 20 percent of the total coverage on the structure of your home.
In addition to covering the loss or damage of personal property for covered perils, a homeowners (or renters) policy also protects against theft or vandalism, as in the event of looting following a wildfire or hurricane. Personal property coverage on a typical homeowners policy is usually 50 to 75 percent of the dwelling’s insured value.
Policies vary, so check with your insurer to see which specific perils are and aren’t covered by your plan. If you own a condo or live in a co-op, check your bylaws or underlying lease to determine what the association covers and what your personal insurance responsibilities will be.
Earthquake coverage can be added to some plans for a fee or purchased as a separate policy. In California, residents can also purchase it from the California Earthquake Authority. Rates vary significantly. For example, the statewide average in California is $832 per year, but in San Francisco it costs about $1,500 to $6,000 annually to cover an older home with a reconstruction cost of $750,000.
Don’t forget to factor in the deductible. Most homeowners policies are subject to a deductible of $500 to $1,500. Those for earthquake insurance are higher; the CEA offers plans that range from 5 to 25 percent of the policy limit. (People who live in hurricane-prone areas may have similarly high deductibles for hurricane coverage.) That can be a big expense. If your home is insured for $350,000 and your policy has a 5 percent deductible, you’ll have to pay $17,500 out of pocket on a covered claim.
Other exclusions to keep in mind include hail damage to the roof, which may not be covered if it’s more than 10 years old, and any “sublimits” on personal property such as jewelry, artwork, and furs, which can be as little as $1,000 to $2,500. To cover such valuables, you may need to purchase a scheduled personal property endorsement, which could cost about $25 per $1,000 of coverage per year.
Get Credit for Updates
For example, installing impact-resistant windows and doors if you live in a hurricane zone could earn you as much as a 45 percent discount on your premiums, says Juan Rodriquez, an engineer who manages large civil works and home-building projects.
Some insurers will require you to do your entire house, says Lynne McChristian, a consultant with the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute. That could be pricey: A 60×80-inch hurricane-impact door can cost about $1,900, and a single-hung window can run $500 to $600, Rodriquez says.
Opt for Full Replacement
In our survey, 18 percent of CR members who filed claims found that they were underinsured. That can be a serious problem when a home is a total loss.
Rather than insuring your home for its actual cash or market value (the amount it would cost to replace it minus depreciation), McChristian suggests that you insure it for the full replacement cost. This option costs 10 to 20 percent more per year than actual cash value coverage, but it will pay to rebuild your home exactly as it was, even if the amount exceeds the estimated value. It’s a good idea to have a professional appraiser evaluate your home’s replacement cost every two to three years, McChristian says.
When it’s time to renew your policy, compare the same coverage offered by the insurers at the top of our homeowners insurance ratings. Some of the major insurers included in our 2016 survey provided a significantly better experience handling claims. Amica Mutual Insurance Company and USAA are among the highest-rated homeowners insurance companies reported by members who filed claims of $10,000 or more between 2013 and 2016. They also received the highest marks in all categories.
You may be able to save hundreds in premiums by shopping around. About 9 percent of respondents in the 2016 survey said they had switched insurers in the previous three years, and of those, more than half did so because they got a better price.
Ease the Claims Process
Taking an inventory of your belongings and keeping it up to date will make it easy to see whether you’re sufficiently insured. It could also speed the insurance claims process by helping to provide proof of losses for tax or disaster-aid purposes, McChristian says, especially if you have photos or a video of your possessions. Charlotte Coppenhaver, 73, and her husband, Dorian, 71, who evacuated their home in Dickinson, Texas, during Hurricane Harvey, had a check within a month.
The Coppenhavers only had to worry about claiming their destroyed possessions. They sold the Dickinson home they’d lived in since 1985 a month before Harvey hit and were renting it from the new owners until their move to Orlando, Fla., a month after the storm.
The couple calculated that their artwork, books, furniture, and the rest that they lost were worth $248,000. But they had insured them for only $85,000. “A FEMA adjustor told us to claim it all, just in case some of the claims were disallowed,” Coppenhaver says. None were; they received a check for $85,000 and were able to recoup some of the rest of their losses on their 2017 tax return under the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017, which allowed victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to claim additional personal casualty losses last year.
“In the end it’s just stuff,” Coppenhaver says. “You’ll never own anything that’s worth more than life itself.”
Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the October 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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