In the small town of Kolasib, we stayed in Hotel Cloud 9. I had been told since I was a child that I was always off on Cloud 9 and now I was actually here. However, the electricity wasn’t for the first few hours, so showers were cold, but the dinner was hot.
We finished our time in the Sundarbans with a silent boat ride in a tidal creek. The highlight was sets of fresh tiger footprints. We then had a long sail back to Dhaka with only one stop at a village. We then had a whirlwind tour of Old Dhaka with enough shopping to send the students back happy.
Leaving Hiron Point, we headed east through the Sundarbans to Kotka. At Kotka the students had walks through the forest seeing deer, wild boar and monkeys, while a smaller group also sampled near a set of 300 year old salt making kilns for OSL dating. We managed to finish while the tide inundated the site. We ended our day with a visit to an island that has recently emerged from the slain which the succession from bare sand to mangrove is visible.
We visited Polder 32, an embanked island in the delta that was flooded for almost two years when the embankment failed in several places during Cyclone Aila. In addition to the problem of increased subsidence due to the embankment, the area struggles for fresh water. Then we sailed to Hiron Point, a forest station in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. We serviced equipment we have here while our armed guards watch for tigers.
After traveling by boat for two days, including crossing the Sundarban Mangrove Forest, we finally arrived in Khulna. We drove to the site of our compaction meter and separated into teams servicing the instruments, investigating agricultural practices, measuring arsenic in the well water and taking sediment samples for dating. We had finally started our work in rural Bangladesh.
Both of us are interested in the intersection of the environment and public health, and we wanted to explore a public health issue about which we felt ignorant. Water kept coming up in our conversations, because we felt that while water is a global issue, it often gets overlooked domestically among our peers. As such, we put together a six-week cross-country road trip, along which we are collecting stories about regional water issues.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial method for extracting natural gas, has become a hot button issue across the U.S. But let’s try to look objectively at its benefits and risks.
Groundwater levels are dropping across a much wider swath of the United States than is generally discussed, according to a new report, suggesting that the nation’s long-term pattern of groundwater use is broadly unsustainable.
Earth Institute field researchers study the planet on every continent and ocean. Projects are aimed at understanding the fundamental dynamics of climate, geology, ecology, human history and more. Here is a partial list of upcoming expeditions.