You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘technology’ tag.
Remote sensing provides a unique perspective of disasters that allows their full impact to be viewed in great detail. It can help people manage disasters and is an effective way of understanding the impacts of a large-scale hazard such as a tsunami. NASA’s satellites are of course some of the most valuable tools available for remote sensing, but other organisations such as the European Space Agency and China Academy of Space Technology also do high-resolution remote sensing. Here are some images of disasters acquired by the Landsat 7, including the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the Sendai coast in Japan before and after the Tohoku tsunami.
This image shows the path of destruction left by a series of tornadoes that tore through the Upper Midwest region of the US on 7 June 2007. The tornadoes flattened farm fields and strong winds uprooted trees sending them crashing into people’s homes.
An interesting infographic from the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction shows the annual damages caused by large-scale natural disasters. It provides context for people killed by disasters, a staggering 1.1 million, those affected, 2.7 billion, and the total cost in damage, 1.3 trillion USD. This information from EM-DAT The International Disaster Database includes all disasters entered into its database (both natural and technological) are based on at least one of these criteria: 10 or more people reported killed, 100 or more people reported affected, declaration of a state of emergency or call for international assistance. Read more
Anyone who has been through airport security in the US before and after 11 September 2001 knows how it has transformed politically, socially and technologically. Other countries, especially the UK, have fallen suit using similar scanning and surveillance technologies in large international airports such as Heathrow. But the majority of passengers are ‘low risk’ meaning that they are unlikely to commit an act of terrorism either at the airport or when airborne. Yet they are still often times forced to submit to procedures that are built upon the premise that they could be a terrorist or if not a terrorist then a potential threat or disruption to airport security, if not national security. This is problematic for a number of reasons, especially considering the resources invested into securing airports from potentially anyone distracts from the ‘real terrorists’, whoever they may be. In response to this conundrum, the TSA in the US is piloting ‘risk-based’ approaches to enhance airport security. While avoiding the obvious non-culprits such as children, people over 75 and those serving in the armed forces, the TSA plans to depend more on techniques that monitor behaviour and implement ways to ‘pre-check’ passengers such as biometric verification and behaviour monitoring techniques. Read more
Clean water is often taken for granted despite growing evidence that it is threatened in many parts of the world by either environmental contamination and/or socioeconomic problems, such as poverty, which often tend to go hand in hand. Arsenic contaminated ground water used for drinking and cooking is commonplace in many parts of Bangladesh. Like other chemical elements known to be poisonous to humans, arsenic is tolerated to some degree, but beyond certain thresholds ingesting arsenic is toxic leading to risk of disease and death.
Arsenic contaminated groundwater currently threatens the health of 70 million people in 61 of 64 districts in Bangladesh. Many people living in districts plagued with arsenic contaminated ground water regularly drink water with concentrations of arsenic far above national and WHO standards. An important study from Prof Peter Atkins and Dr Manzurul Hassan explores how groundwater arsenic concentration varies throughout areas of southwest Bangladesh. Understanding the scale of arsenic contamination, the complex processes that lead to arsenic in groundwater and how arsenic spreads over time is currently needed to reduce arsenic-related health risks. The study reveals a highly uneven spatial pattern of arsenic concentrations that can inform government policy for addressing where high levels of arsenic contamination occur in order to mitigate arsenic poisoning, a health and social hazard. 358 of the 375 tubewells sampled in the study had concentrations of arsenic of at least .05 mg/L and only 17 of the tubewells (4.50 percent) sampled are considered arsenic-safe. This is a large health concern for people living in areas of Bangladesh where the only source of water they have is contaminated with arsenic that is either above or well above the WHO standard (<0.01 mg/L), but also the limit set by the government of Bangladesh (0.05 mg/L). Read more
Using LIDAR remote sensing (light detection and ranging) geoscientists made a detailed scan of an earthquake zone in northern Mexico and compared it with a survey taken before the 2010 Sierra El Mayor Earthquake. They found that the quake did not occur on a major fault, but through a series of small faults that came together.
Here is a 3D visualisation of the earthquake zone mapped by researchers.