Science in Action

BBC World Service

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Mapping the Ocean Floor

June 16th, 2016

Episode 97 of 154 episodes

We still know less than 95% of what the sea floor looks like. Even shallow coastal waters are poorly mapped. Oceanographers are meeting in Monaco this week to discuss how to measure the landscape under the world’s oceans. Predicting The Indian Monsoon The weather system that creates the Indian monsoon is notoriously difficult to model, which leads to inaccurate forecasts of the start date and intensity that can lead to devastation for local residents and farmers. A team of oceanographers and scientists from the University of East Anglia are going to be out at sea during the monsoon and using underwater robots to map current flows and measure sea temperatures. The monsoon is driven by moisture and the temperature being picked up by the atmosphere as it passes over the bay. By measuring how currents mix salty water from the Arabian Sea with fresh colder water from the Ganges, a better understanding of how the monsoon is driven can be gathered. Gravitational Wave Detected Again The team at LIGO (The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) have done it again with a Christmas day detection of two black holes colliding. Leading on from the first detection last September, the team have this time detected gravitational waves from two smaller black holes where the collision lasted for a longer time. With the prolonged collision more information could be gathered and one of the black holes was seen to be rotating, the first such observational proof that black holes spin. Green Mining Wales in the UK has 1300 rivers with illegal levels of heavy metals. Toxic metals like lead, zinc and copper are a legacy left over from when the area was heavily mined. Natural Resources Wales and Innovate UK set a competition to look for technology that would clean up these rivers. One of the winners was Steve Skill from Swansea University, who has come up with some biotechnology that uses algae to suck the poison out of the rivers. Presenter: Roland Pease Producer: Fiona Roberts Image: 2005, from the HOTRAX (Healy-Oden Trans Arctic Expedition), credit: Martin Jakobsson

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