Hurricane Florence And Typhoon Mangkhut Make Landfall

On Sept. 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence hit the eastern seaboard of the United States. At least three people have been killed since it made landfall in North Carolina with other deaths being investigated. 1.7 million residents were placed under evacuation warnings and over 800,000 lost power. A category one hurricane when it made landfall, Florence was reclassified as a tropical storm by the evening with winds down to a speed of 70 miles per hour. Heavy rainfall, flooding, storm surge and high winds are expected to continue across both North and South Carolina.

“If you’re asked to evacuate, go,” said North Carolina Governor Ray Cooper in a press briefing. “More reports of damage are pouring in, and the forecast tells us that we have a lot more of this storm to endure.”

On the other side of the world, another storm hit land. On the same day that Florence crossed into North Carolina, Typhoon Mangkhut struck the northern Philippines with winds of 125 miles per hour. The World Meteorological Organization referred to it as “the strongest tropical cyclone of the year.” It was originally categorized as a Super Typhoon before being downgraded after making landfall. More than four million people are in Mangkhut’s path; over 15,000 were evacuated by Friday afternoon. Heavy rainfall, flooding and possible landslides are expected as the storm makes its way westward.

Satellite Launched to Track Changes Caused by Global Warming

The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2), was constructed for a NASA mission to monitor ice cover and measure changes in volume resulting from climate change across Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. Launched on Sept. 15, 2018, the satellite continues the scientific survey that began with ICESat-1 in 2003.

In order to conduct its calculations, ICESat-2 will fire laser pulses towards Earth at a rate of 10,000 per second. The time needed for these pulses to travel from the satellite to the surface of the planet is recorded, creating what NASA refers to as a “global portrait of Earth’s third dimension.” This method of laser measurement is known as photon counting. The satellite will be used to track changes beyond the thickness of ice cover, including taking measurements of forest height to determine the amount of carbon stored in the vegetation. ICESat-2 is capable of accurately measuring distances down to about .02 inches and its mission is expected to run for three years.

Zimbabwe Cholera Outbreak Causes Controversy

An outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe has killed 25 people and infected over 3,000. The government launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to deal with the emergency. This decision was met with controversy as citizens reprehended the government’s use of funds. Some cited recent government vehicle purchases and campaign expenses, while having to ask for donations to provide the people with the care they need. The government was also criticized for its failure to provide adequate water and sanitation to the suburbs of the capital city, Harare, which is believed to play a role in the extent of the crisis.  

The outbreak also led to a ban on public gatherings in Harare. Consequently, the leader of the opposition party, Nelson Chamisa, postponed the mock-inauguration he was scheduled to hold with his followers. The event was planned in correspondence with Mr. Chamisa’s claims that he won the presidential election in July, but has now been pushed back to a later, unspecified date due to the ban.