Science and politics of disaster death tolls

In photos: Astronaut sees powerful Super Typhoon Trami aimed at Japan

Super Typhoon Trami as seen from the International Space Station on Sept. 25, 2018. Photo: Alexander Gerst/ESA

Super Typhoon Trami, which as of Tuesday afternoon was the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane, is projected to hit Japan this weekend. The storm is likely to be weaker by then, but it will follow on the heels of severely damaging Super Typhoon Jebi, which brought a record high storm surge to Osaka Bay, flooding Osaka Kansai Airport.

The big picture: Super Typhoon Trami is one of the more powerful — and photogenic — storms to form in the northern hemisphere so far this year. Yet again it appears Japan will feel its worst effects, beginning in the Ryukyu Islands on September 28 or 29. It’s also possible the storm will curve out to sea without hitting the most populous Japanese islands…


How nervous goats may help predict natural disasters

The International Space Station is helping to track animal movements in a bid to predict natural disasters before they happen.

Spacewalking cosmonauts set up an antenna for tracking birds on Earth and sent a series of tiny satellites flying from the International Space Station last month.

Russians Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Artemyev spent several hours installing the antenna for a German-led animal-tracking project known as Icarus , short for International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space…


Science and politics of disaster death tolls

In August 2018, almost a year after Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, an academic study placed the death toll at about 46 times the number declared earlier by President Trump.1 The heated debate that followed the publication shows why these figures can be so controversial.23 High death tolls indicate the severity of a natural disaster but can also point to politically damaging inadequacies in the relief effort and to underlying poverty and inequality in the affected population…



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