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Collaborative Monsoon Project Launched Today

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Scientists from the University of East Anglia are set to release underwater robots into the ocean to study monsoon rainfall as part of a collaborative project between researchers in the UK and India. The team will use state-of-the-art equipment to take atmospheric measurements and predict monsoon rainfall by studying ocean processes in the Bay of Bengal. The project will be launched later today.

It is hoped that the combined results of this large-scale scientific campaign will help forecast the arrival of the Indian monsoon more accurately than ever before.

As well as improving rainfall prediction, the research could revolutionise subsistence farming, improve the livelihoods of millions of people, and help mitigate the damage caused by monsoons when they hit land.

Summer monsoons provide 80 per cent of annual rainfall to around a billion people in India.

Forecasting the precise timing and location of the rains is vital to the region’s economy, which is dominated by farming, and for managing its increasingly pressured water resources.

Accurate predictions of intense downpours and breaks in the monsoon are essential to help farmers plan their crop planting and communities prepare for floods and droughts.

Last year, the monsoon spread rapidly over northern India, causing devastating damage, whereas prolonged breaks in 2009 led to a severe shortage of rainfall and poor harvests.

Lead researcher Prof Adrian Matthews, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “The Indian monsoon is notoriously hard to predict. It is a very complicated weather system and the processes are not understood or recorded in science.

“We will be combining oceanic and atmospheric measurements to monitor weather systems as they are generated. Nobody has ever made observations on this scale during the monsoon season itself so this is a truly ground-breaking project.

“We are aiming for a better understanding of the actual physical processes. What we have now are imperfect models for predicting monsoon rainfall when it hits land, so this will create better forecasts.

“Ultimately, the goal is to improve the prediction of monsoon rainfall over India. This will be enormously beneficial for India’s subsistence farmers, who need to know when and how much rain will fall. This would then enable them to change the timing of how they plant their crops.

“We hope that it will also help to mitigate international disasters caused by extreme rainfall and flooding.

“We also hope to better understand how the southern Asian monsoon affects the whole world’s climate.”

The Bay of Bengal Boundary Layer Experiment (BoBBLE) is led by UEA scientists in collaboration with the University of Reading and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton.

Collaborators in India include the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (CAOS), the Indian National Centre for Climate Information Services (INCOIS), the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).

The UEA team will arrive in India today and are due to set sail on June 24 from Chennai into the Bay of Bengal on the Indian research ship the Sindhu Sadhana.

Dr M Rajeevan, secretary for the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences, will visit the ship and meet the research team on the afternoon of its departure.

Once out in the ocean, they will then release seven underwater gliders to measure ocean properties such as temperature, salinity and current.

The team will spend a month at sea – with data from the 250-mile stretch of international water beamed back to the UK using mobile phone signals daily.

Back in the UK, researchers at UEA, the University of Reading and NOC, will use this data to create computer models of the ocean to determine how it affects weather systems and rainfall over India.

Prof Matthews added: “Our collaborators will be flying out from Bangalore to make simultaneous observations in the atmosphere above us. It will be really rather spectacular.”

Previous missions undertaken by UEA’s fleet of gliders have helped researchers make a variety of discoveries including why the Antarctic ice caps are melting.

The project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Newton Fund, the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the UK’s Met Office.

Below is a video, courtesy of UEA, showing their underwater robots in action on previous missions.

Photograph: credit University of East Anglia

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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