Australian wildfires will claim victims even after they’re out

first_img Rebuilding a French masterpiece Harvard-trained architect discusses the restoration of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral Related Breathing uneasily GAZETTE: How long does it take the air to clear from these kinds of events?MICKLEY: That’s a good question. For much of the world, air quality returns within days to normal conditions because the wind will carry away the plumes, and the fire is dead. However, if there is peat in the soil, which you often see in tropical forests, that peat can smolder for weeks. So in these areas the fires need not just to be controlled, but actually extinguished. Then, the smoke will die down pretty quickly.GAZETTE: Do you think these fires in Australia foreshadow the kinds of fires we could see in this country in the future?MICKLEY: Yes, I do. If you look at the history, Australia and other areas like the western U.S. have gone through large climate changes in the past, maybe 500 to several thousand years ago. These are what we will call natural variations in climate, sometimes accompanied by very severe droughts. I was recently looking at records of charcoal in lake sediment, which are made by bringing up cores of dirt from the bottom of a lake. These records provide a sense of when fires occurred because you can see layers of charcoal indicating that there was regional fire at that time. In lake sediment from Tasmania, an island state off of Australia’s southern coast, it looks like there was tremendous fire activity occurring periodically over the last 2,400 years. But the authors of the paper examining these records stress that just because intense fire activity comes naturally from time to time, human-caused climate change could also bring back some of these same conditions experienced in the past. But this time there may be no return to normal conditions, at least not for a long time. That is, as we pump more carbon dioxide into the air, and temperatures rise, some regions, particularly Australia, are expected to get much drier, and these weather conditions will likely persist. Carbon dioxide lasts a very long time in the atmosphere — centuries, so things don’t look good. The increase in temperatures alone evaporates the moisture in the soils. Combine that with a drought, and you have even drier conditions. This dryness turns the vegetation into a fuel that can feed the fires very well, as we’ve seen. As California fights devastating Camp Fire, Harvard’s Joe Allen explains when and where smoke threatens health center_img The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. The recent massive wildfires in Australia have killed more than 30 people and an estimated 1 billion animals, and burned 2,500 homes and millions of acres. And the human toll is expected to rise even after the blazes wind down. According to Harvard scientist Loretta Mickley, senior research fellow in atmospheric chemistry at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering (SEAS), long-term exposure to the smoke-filled air hanging over much of the country could lead to many premature deaths in Australia. In 2015, Mickley and a team of experts estimated that the air polluted by large forest fires in Indonesia had caused more than 100,000 premature deaths in that region. “The air quality across a large area of Australia has been very poor over a sustained amount of time, and the net health effects could last for several months to a year,” said Mickley, who spoke with the Gazette about her research.Q&ALoretta MickleyGAZETTE: What are the short-term versus the long-term effects of exposure to this kind of smoke?MICKLEY: We do see acute health effects from fires. For example, someone may have an asthma attack from high levels of smoke in her neighborhood, or we might see an increase in hospital admissions for lung complaints or similar conditions. But what people don’t always realize is that the particles in the smoke can affect chronic conditions like heart or pulmonary diseases, and the current thinking is that the long-term health effects can be quite severe over a period of a year or even more. So someone may get a stroke next June in that region and not realize that it can be traced back to smoke exposure. I think that effect has not been widely reported with the fires in Australia.GAZETTE: Can you talk about the findings from your earlier work around fires and health outcomes and if they might apply here?MICKLEY: A few years ago we did a big project involving researchers from SEAS [the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences], the [Harvard T.H. Chan] School of Public Health, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and fire experts at Columbia University. Our team, led by Harvard principal research scientist Sam Myers, wanted to know about fires in Equatorial Asia, mainly in Indonesia where they have periodic strong smoke events lasting weeks. In that part of the world, many fires are deliberately set to clear the tropical forests in order to plant oil palm or other trees that are valuable in the marketplace. Farmers also use fire to reduce pests and clear debris in agricultural fields. In very dry years, which come periodically, these fires can get out of control; they escape, and the smoke can linger over a broad area for weeks at a time. And 2015 was particularly bad, with very heavy smoke comparable, I would say, to what at least some areas of southern Australia are experiencing now. Our team determined that the smoke that people in Equatorial Asia experienced in 2015 led to 100,000 premature deaths, with most of those deaths occurring in the one-year aftermath of the fires.,GAZETTE: Was there a main condition or disease that contributed to those deaths?MICKLEY: For our study we relied on well-known, well-established relationships between particulate matter and health outcomes that people have developed over the years through long-term monitoring. The main diseases linked to particulate pollution are cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes, followed by pulmonary disease, and, in kids, pneumonia. At first glance, it looks like the levels of pollution experienced by some Australians because of the recent fires may be on par with what we saw in some areas of Equatorial Asia in 2015. We have not yet done any quantitative analysis, though. And Australia is much less densely populated than Equatorial Asia, so we would expect fewer deaths.GAZETTE: In your research, did you find there was a particular length of time someone needed to be exposed to this kind of poor air to suffer the long-term health effects?MICKLEY: The longer you are exposed, the more likely you are to get a health impact. In Equatorial Asia, the smoke lasted for weeks. In our study, we averaged exposure over the year to determine the health impacts over the following year. “Someone may get a stroke next June in that region and not realize that it can be traced back to smoke exposure.” — Loretta Mickley, pictured above Is your home making you sick? New report outlines tips for making your house a healthy one last_img read more

Soggy Bottom SUP Tour: Day 2

first_img Jennings Randolph Lake Mount Storm Second stop – Savage River ReservoirThe rain continued as we headed to SRR, we first checked out the Dry Run launch site, the lake is lowered for the winter season for flood control and was down about 25’ already for the winter season, we decided to check out the other launch site at the upper end of the lake, about half way to the upper launch we turned around, due to the heavy rains, the lake had came up about two feet causing the upper end of the lake to become real muddy. We arrived at the launch near the dam and proceeded down to the water. As we were unloading the boards we were treated to the site of a golden eagle in flight just about the water, this area is know for eagle sightings. The wind was blowing down the lake at about 10+ mph, we headed toward the dam hugging the shoreline, the water was 72 and the outside air temperature was 55. This is a perfect place for mid summer paddle during the busy season at Deep Creek Lake, since this lake does not allow powerboats. The rain picked up and the winds gusted up to 15 mph so we packed up and headed towards our next stop Jennings Randolph Lake. Only drawback to this paddle session was the loss of my thermometer than I placed on my paddle earlier in the day. This is a US Army Corps of Engineers Lake. Savage River Reservoir Area information:Launch sites:Three public launch sites around the lake, these launch site are so what rough and can be long walks to the water during the fall draw down season. No charge to launch (swimming is not allowed at the reservoir)Paddleboard rental nearby at Deep Creek Lake or Bring Your Own Board:  Wisp Resort, Deep Creek Marina, High Mountain SportsNearby lodging: Savage River Outfitters (rental cabins) White Water Sites (camping)Dining options: none, Westernport about 10 minutes away (fast food)Other nearby area activities: Savage River and North Branch of Potomac (fly fishing and white water kayaking on select release dates)Third stop – Jennings Randolph Lake (Maryland side)We arrived at the boat launch on the Maryland side of the lake; there also is a boat launch and beach on the West Virginia side of the lake. The Maryland side launch is real nice and has plenty of length as the fall drawn down season comes into play. This was my first visit to JRL and is sure not to be my last, the water was super clear with 10+’ of visibility and is sure to become one of my favorite paddleboard sites. Due to the mountains surrounding the lake, the lake is somewhat sheltered from most winds, even during this rainy windy day we experienced little wind, the rain even stopped for about 25 minutes to allow us to enjoy a brief rain free paddle session. Along the way to the launch we came upon three different groups of wild turkeys. The lake was down about 20’ feet for the fall drawn down season. The water temperature was 76 degrees and the outside air was 55 degrees. This is a great place to paddle and is undiscovered gem. The rain picked up and we packed up and headed to our last stop for the day Mount Storm.  This is a US Army Corps of Engineers Lake. 1 2 Savage River Soggy Bottom SUP Tour: Broadford Lake Mount Storm Lake Click here to read Day 1“The Deluge Continues” First stop – Broadford LakeThe heavy rain continues with 2 – 4” of rain in the forecast for day two of the tour, we head out around 9am to meet Colin at Trader’s Landing Coffee House to get instructions on how to use the Go Pro video camera, Jeff and I are in need help with all this technology.  Around 11am we arrive at our first stop of the day, Broadford Lake near Oakland, Maryland. This park is operated by the Town of Oakland and is a great place to paddleboard since powerboats are not allowed on this lake; the park has a beach area and boat launch area. We were the only people in the park except for one person getting in a morning walk. It was a cool 52 degrees with heavy rain when we took off on our first paddle of the day, the water was fairly calm, we headed towards the beach area and then across the lake up the right side of the lake, the wind picked up as we made our way back to the launch area. The water was a warm 68 degrees. The rain continued as did the alarm on the Jeep as we were loading up to head to Savage River Reservoir, the electronic key got wet in the rain and then it would not turn off the alarm. We finally turned the alarm off and headed out to our next paddleboard site, before the police arrived to check out the alarm and the crazy people paddling in the rain.Broadford  Lake Area information:Launch site: Boat launch area, $4 park fee per vehiclePaddleboard rental nearby at Deep Creek Lake or Bring Your Own Board:  Wisp Resort, Deep Creek Marina, High Mountain SportsNearby lodging: a couple local motels in Oakland or various lodging options at nearby Deep Creek LakeDining options: Long Branch (wings) Cornish Manor (causal dining) Deep Park Inn (fine dining), Dairy Queen (fast food)Other nearby area activities: Potomac State Forest (hiking)last_img read more

Construction has started on a new $4m Gold Coast leisure centre

first_imgThe centre will be next to a park. The centre will have a lap pool.“As The Surrounds is not being created under a body corporate model, Villawood will look after the financial implications of the maintenance requirements for the complimentary period.”Local councillor William Owen-Jones said the centre was a good example of how developers could build estates that also engaged the community.He and Villawood Properties state manager of development Michael Williams turned the first sod at the site today.It is expected to be finished in mid-2019. Construction is due to start on the $4 million leisure centre at The Surrounds in May, 2018.CONSTRUCTION has started on a $4 million leisure centre for Helensvale.Villawood Properties is building the centre within its new residential development, The Surrounds.The centre, which was designed by Gold Coast architecture firm BDA, will have a 3500sq m footprint.A cafe, lap pool, fully equipped gym and change rooms are just some of the facilities it will offer.center_img More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa17 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days agoVillawood Properties state manager of development Michael Williams and local councillor William Owen-Jones turned the first sod at the site today.Villawood Properties executive director Tony Johnson said it would be built beside The Surrounds Central Park and within walking distance of every home.“The leisure centre is being built primarily for the amenity of The Surrounds residents, who will be entitled to two years’ complimentary use of the entire centre,” he said. “Eventually, it will be an independently-owned and operated facility. last_img read more