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Scientists Prepare To Explore Uncharted Indian Ocean

The mission’s principal scientist, Lucy Woodall of Oxford University, said the researchers expect to discover dozens of new species.

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Indian Ocean
In this image taken from drone video, the Ocean Zephyr is docked in Bremerhaven, Germany, Wednesday Jan. 23, 2019. VOA

Scientists prepared Thursday to embark on an unprecedented, years-long mission to explore the Indian Ocean and document changes taking place beneath the waves that could affect billions of people in the surrounding region over the coming decades.

The ambitious expedition will delve into one of the last major unexplored frontiers on the planet, a vast body of water that’s already feeling the effects of global warming. Understanding the Indian Ocean’s ecosystem is important not just for the species that live in it, but also for an estimated 2.5 billion people at home in the region — from East Africa, the Arabian peninsula, South and Southeast Asia.

The Nekton Mission, supported by over 40 organizations, will conduct further dives in other parts of the Indian Ocean over three years. The research will contribute to a summit on the state of the Indian Ocean planned for late 2021.

The Ocean Zephyr is preparing to leave Bremerhaven, Germany, on the first leg of trip. Researchers will spend seven weeks surveying underwater life, map the sea floor and drop sensors to depths of up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) in the seas around the Seychelles.

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FILE – An undated and unplaced handout photo obtained from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on Dec. 3, 2015, shows Havila Harmony, one of three ships scouring the southern Indian Ocean for the remains of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. (VOA)

Little is known about the watery world below depths of 30 meters (100 feet), which scientists from Britain and the Seychelles will be exploring with two crewed submarines and a remotely operated submersible in March and April.

Ronny Jumeau, the Seychelles’ ambassador to the United Nations, said such research is vital to helping the island nation understand its vast ocean territory.

While the country’s 115 islands together add up to just 455 square kilometers (176 sq. miles) of land — about the same as San Antonio, Texas — its exclusive economic zone stretches to 1.4 million square kilometers (540 million square miles) of sea, an area almost the size of Alaska.

Jumeau said the Seychelles aims to become a leader in the development of a “blue economy” that draws on the resources of the ocean. The archipelago relies on fishing and tourism, but has lately also been exploring the possibility of extracting oil and gas from beneath the sea floor.

“Key to this is knowing not only what you have in the ocean around you, but where it is and what is its value,” he said. “It is only when you know this that you can properly decide what to exploit and what to protect and leave untouched.”

Indian ocean
Gunner Richard Brown (L) of Transit Security Element looks through binoculars as he stands on lookout with other crew members aboard the Australian Navy ship HMAS Perth as they continue to search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 10, 2014. 

“Research expeditions such as the Nekton Mission are therefore vital to help us fill those gaps and better know our ocean space and marine resources to make wise decisions in planning the future of our blue economy,” Jumeau added.

The island nation of fewer than 100,000 people is already feeling the effects of climate change, with rising water temperatures bleaching its coral reefs.

“Our ocean is undergoing rapid ecological transformation by human activities,” said Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York, England, who is a trustee of the mission.

“Seychelles are a critical beacon and bellwether for marine conservation in the Indian Ocean and globally,” he said.

Also Read: Communication of Coral Eating Starfish can save Coral Reefs: Scientists

The mission’s principal scientist, Lucy Woodall of Oxford University, said the researchers expect to discover dozens of new species, from corals and sponges to larger creatures like types of dog-sharks.

The Associated Press is accompanying the expedition and will provide live underwater video from the dives, using new optical transmission technology to send footage from the submarines to the ship and from there, by satellite, to the world. (VOA)

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Experts Claim, Climate Change Can Affect Food, Water Security

Lauding IIT-Mandi for hosting the workshop, Rajeevan said the Himalayas were one of the world's sensitive hotspots to climate change along with the Artic region.

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Ramesh P. Singh, workshop Coordinator and visiting faculty at IIT-Mandi, said: "We have to understand climate change and its impact as it is very important for the future generations." Pixabay

Climate change can affect the food, water and energy security of a region, Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary M. Rajeevan said here on Friday.

“Climate is changing and global warming is happening due to the release of greenhouse gases. In many parts of the world, including India, the effects of climate change are being seen especially in mountain regions like Mandi,” he said.

He was speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology-Mandi that hosted an International Workshop on Climate Change and Extreme Events in the Indian Himalayan Region.

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In many parts of the world, including India, the effects of climate change are being seen especially in mountain regions like Mandi,” he said. Pixabay

The workshop was aimed at understanding the effects of climate change, melting of glaciers, increased frequency of extreme events, atmospheric pollution and pollution due to the burning of crop residue in the Himalayan region and applications of remote sensing.

Lauding IIT-Mandi for hosting the workshop, Rajeevan said the Himalayas were one of the world’s sensitive hotspots to climate change along with the Artic region.

“The Himalayan region is experiencing increasing variability in weather in the last many years. This could lead to further snow accumulation over this region and more research is needed to understand this phenomenon. By studying data, there is also evidence that the number of extreme warm days and nights has increased in this Himalayan region, which are clear effects of global warming.”

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The workshop was aimed at understanding the effects of climate change, melting of glaciers, increased frequency of extreme events, atmospheric pollution and pollution due to the burning of crop residue in the Himalayan region and applications of remote sensing. Pixabay

In his presidential address, IIT-Mandi Director Timothy A. Gonsalves said: “We have 15 professors from six different disciplines in IIT-Mandi who are working on climate change. This workshop saw the participation of faculty from various disciplines and is an example of the inter-disciplinary and collaborative environment on campus.”

Also Read: Passwords on Sensitive Account Are Still Easy To Guess

Ramesh P. Singh, workshop Coordinator and visiting faculty at IIT-Mandi, said: “We have to understand climate change and its impact as it is very important for the future generations.”

The workshop has participation from all over India, besides Europe, and the US with over 90 speakers from across India. (IANS)