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1. Most natural disasters are caused by weather.

Weather disasters can be caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, thunderstorms, wind storms, wildfires, avalanches, and blizzards.

2. Some of the weather disasters can be predicted such as hurricanes and blizzards. The technology is getting better in predicting tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. By getting the data early people can be warned to take shelter or make the necessary preparations. 3. Some natural disasters are caused by volcanoes and earthquakes. 4. Some wildfires are caused by lightning, but some are caused by people. 5. Flooding is the worlds most expensive type of natural disaster because the damage can be so extensive. 6. Earthquakes are the deadliest of all natural disasters. 7. Some kinds of disasters are more common in some places than in others. When people are choosing a place to live they need to consider whether they will live on a fault line for an earthquake or near a river that has a history of flooding. 8. There isn't any way to avoid natural disasters, but if people know what kinds of disasters are most likely where they live, they can learn what to do if a disaster happens in order to stay safe. 9. FEMA is an acronym for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is the federal agency that deals with natural disasters across the United States. 10. Many different agencies such as the Red Cross come to the assistance of people affected by natural disasters.

Flooding is the worlds most expensive type of natural disaster. The cost of global flood damage is hundreds of billions of euros. The Pakistan floods of July 2010 alone caused more than 7 billion euros of damage. Floods can occur in coastal areas or close to rivers. When huge sheets of water cover low-lying areas, they can cause immense damage to property and threaten lives. European space technology is a key weapon in the fight against floods. The first line of defense is provided by the Meteosat and MetOp weather satellites. These show developing storm systems and allow accurate forecasts of wind and rain. Ordinary cameras can show flooding in daylight, when skies are clear. But floods usually occur beneath a blanket of cloud.

ESAs Envisat and ERS-2 spacecraft carry radar instruments that can see through the cloud, day or night. These provide accurate land use maps of the flooded areas, showing whether the water has covered fields, woodland or built-up areas. Radar data can even indicate how much water has soaked into the soil and whether the sponge is full. By using satellite data of past events, it is also possible to plan for future floods.

Mount Etna

There are about 1,500 active volcanoes, with 50 or so erupting each year. Most of these volcanoes are found around the Pacific Ocean a belt known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. Europe has its own volcanoes, such as Etna and Vesuvius, that have erupted many times in history. At least 500 million people live close to an active volcano. When an eruption occurs, nearby areas may be covered with ash and red-hot lava. Fields and buildings may be buried. Poisonous gases, clouds of glowing ash or mud flows may kill everyone in their path. Fortunately, satellites are now helping to identify the most dangerous volcanoes.

Mount Etna sputtering hot rock and ash

ESAs Envisat and ERS-2 satellites study volcanoes in many different ways. Cameras show lava flows and clouds of ash. Infrared instruments detect hot lava that is rising to the surface. Radar can view the breathing of a volcano as molten rock moves inside it. Surface swelling of only a few millimetres can reveal pressure building up before an eruption. Other sensors identify the gases and particles released into the air. Such data saves lives and helps to predict when the next eruption will come. Satellite maps of the damaged areas also help rescue and recovery.

Bam earthquake

Earthquakes are the deadliest of all natural disasters. Most deaths are caused by collapsing buildings or fires. Several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. However, many of these are undetected because they occur in remote areas or are very weak. On average, there are 18 major earthquakes and one great earthquake each year. The most recent major earthquake took place on the island of Haiti in the West Indies. The Haitian government reported that 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and one million made homeless. Earthquakes are most common near large cracks in the Earths crust, known as faults. They often occur in southern Europe, where two large slabs of crust are moving towards each other.

Satellite image of the 1999 earthquake in Turkey

Radar instruments on ESAs ERS-2 and Envisat satellites make it possible to find out if the surface is moving. They can measure the movement to within a few millimetres. Radar also can be used to map and assess the damage to buildings, day or night. This is of great help to rescue and recovery teams. There is still no accurate way to forecast earthquakes. However, ESAs satellites provide precise information that can help scientists in their task. Data collected over many years helps to predict future quakes and to unveil hidden faults