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Robots to Swim in Bay of Bengal in Monsoon Study 

Scientists will spend a month at sea releasing seven underwater robots across a 400-kilometer stretch of water.

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India
2 min read
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To better understand and predict South Asia’s seasonal monsoon, scientists are preparing to release robots into the Bay of Bengal in a study of how ocean conditions might affect rainfall patterns.

The monsoon, which hits between June and September, delivers more than 70 percent of India’s annual rainfall. Yet, the rains are hard to predict and depend on the complex interplay between global atmospheric and oceanic movements in ways not yet fully understood. They can be affected by weather phenomena such as El Nino, and could become even more erratic with climate change and even air pollution.

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It’s such a complex system, the processes that occur in the Bay of Bengal are not well understood.
Ben Webber, Oceanographer, University of East Anglia

One of the biggest mysteries is how water currents work, with colder and fresher water streaming into the northern part of the bay, while warmer and saltier water flows in further south from the Arabian Sea. The colder water tends to stay on the surface, while warmer saline water swirls in below. But as the two masses mix, the warmer water moves toward the surface and releases heat and moisture, which then powers atmospheric storms.

Scientists will spend a month at sea releasing seven underwater robots across a 400-kilometer stretch of water.
A fisherman rowing his boat during monsoons in Alleppy, Kerala. (Photo: Reuters)
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Working from an Indian research ship departing the southern port city of Chennai later this month, British scientists will spend a month at sea releasing seven underwater robots across a 400-kilometer (250-mile) stretch of water. The torpedo-shaped robots are programed to navigate up and down through the water to a depth of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), measuring the water salinity, temperature and current and transmitting the data to a satellite.

At the same time, in a related study, scientists from the University of Reading and the Indian government will take atmospheric measurements.

By comparing the two sets of data, scientists hope to better understand how ocean conditions affect monsoon patterns.

Scientists will spend a month at sea releasing seven underwater robots across a 400-kilometer stretch of water.
Schoolgirls stand on a road divider as they huddle under an umbrella during monsoon rain in New Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)
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Also Read:
India’s 90-year-old Met Dept to Spend $60 M on a Tech Makeover

(Published in arrangement with AP.)

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Topics:  agriculture   El Nino   Monsoon 

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