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As Floods Hit Pakistan, Millions Are In Search For Help

In over a decade, millions of Pakistanis are fighting for their lives and searching for aid as they are overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster. 

Many authorities have claimed that this recent disaster and the scale of it could be considered a “serious climate catastrophe.”

With the recent flash flood on Friday, it destroyed at least 10 bridges, over a dozen buildings and killed nearly 75 people. 

“We’ve had to deploy the navy for the first time to operate in Indo-Pakistan, because much of it resembles a small ocean,” said Climate change minister Sherry Rehman.

The monsoon ended up affecting all four provinces of Pakistan. Almost a million homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, numerous roads can no longer be traveled on and electricity outages are everywhere.

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These damages have affected at least 33 million people throughout the entire country. 

According to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), the fatalities of this disaster have also continued to increase since mid-June up to at least 1,061 people and the fear continues to rise as more death follows.

“By the time this is over, we could well have one quarter or one third of Pakistan under water,” said Rehman. 

According to CNN, Foreign Minister Bilawal Butto-Zardari stated this past Sunday that this year’s monsoons in Pakistan have been “absoultely devastating.”

“I haven’t seen any destruction or devastation of this scale. I find it very difficult to put into words the phraseologies that we are used to, whether it’s monsoon rains or flooding, doesn’t quite seem to encapsulate the ongoing devastation and disaster that we are still witnessing.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has joined in to help for relief efforts by dropping off supplies via helicopter in areas that have been hard to reach either by boat or on foot.

“Visiting flood affected areas and meeting people. The magnitude of the calamity is bigger than estimated. Times demand that we come together as one nation in support of our people facing this calamity. Let us rise above our differences and stand by our people who need us today,” Sharif recently tweeted.

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The International Rescue Committee profit group reached out on Monday and stated that more than 30 million people were in “urgent need” because of the monsoons. 

The United States and United Kingdom governments have stated that they will pledge around $1 million in emergency relief and that the first wave of foreign aid will start to come into Pakistan on Monday to help citizens find some relief from the disastrous floods.

Wildfires

NASA Tracking California Wildfires From Space

California is currently enduring one of the worst wildfire seasons in its history. After the devastating fires that caused thousands to evacuate in winter 2019, NASA has decided to use some of its resources to assist the state in tracking the fires in hopes to predict how they’ll move.

The scientists helping with this mission are a part of the agency’s Applied Sciences Disaster Program in the Earth Sciences Division. The division is currently making maps and other data products that can be used by experts to track any active fires and the smoke plumes that they emit. This information is not only extremely useful in tracking current wildfires, but also for identifying areas that may be susceptible to future ones.

David Green, the manager of the Disasters Program at NASA claims that the information will also be used after the fires are put out, to watch out for any environmental hazards that may occur as a direct result of the fires; landslides, mudslides, sinkholes, etc. 

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“When disasters like this occur, we are able to swiftly respond to requests from our partners who need images and mapping data.”

The data is collected from a multitude of satellites that pass over the state. Multiple satellite instruments are used to capture and track different kinds of environments near the wildfires such as desert terrain, bodies of water, forest land, and more. This information is crucial for post-fire hazards as well as tracking how each element of the fire (smoke plumes, flames) is moving. 

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument is able to view Earth’s surface in visible infrared and thermal-infrared wavelengths. This basically means the satellite is able to detect, capture, and track the smoke, heat, and size of the fires and thus track the way its moving. The ASTER data specifically is helping firefighters on the ground locate the source of these fires so that they can better allocate their resources. 

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Another satellite instrument being used is known as the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), which captures images that helps scientists better understand how high and far smoke particles from the plumes travel. The data also can identify what type of particles are in the smoke specifically. This information is especially crucial as it informs experts what areas of the country are at risk of poor air quality and visibility. 

Airborne smoke particles can also be extremely harmful to our health, as inhaling massive amounts of plume smoke can increase one’s chance of cardiovascular and respiratory disease. So tracking the smoke specifically is just as important as tracking the fires themselves. NASA is currently working with the California National Guard in sharing this data so they can properly send out their resources to the places that need it most. 

In combination with other scientific instruments on the ground, these multiple satellites can help scientists predict future wildfires by characterizing the ones that have been appearing most often within the past year. By labeling each type of wildfire, scientists are able to understand their long-term effects and how they start in the first place. As of right now data collection and the wildfires are ongoing, if you live in California remain diligent, and listen to your local firefighters when it comes to future procedures.