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Atmospheric rivers

Flood warnings in parts of California have seen some of the state’s best known celebrities flee their homes. The current weather conditions are in part the result of ‘Atmospheric rivers’ – literally fast flowing rivers of water vapor in the atmosphere. Marty Ralph from the Scripps Institute has been studying this phenomenon for years, he explains what atmospheric rivers are, and tells us how a greater understanding of the phenomenon is now informing weather forecasting and evacuation plans.

Over the past year several million people have fled Ukraine, amongst them many scientists. Nataliya Shulga from the Ukraine Science Club is working on a wide ranging initiative to attract them back. She tells us of plans not just to reconstruct Ukrainian science facilities after the war, but to offer a philosophical change which breaks with the Soviet past - a more global, collaborative environment for scientists returning to the Ukraine.

Last December the Afghan Taliban banned women from attending university, its just one of the many moves denying education to women since the Taliban returned to power. Particle physicist Kate Shaw had been working with Afghan physicists in the years before the Taliban’s comeback, she is now developing an initiative with scientists and institutions around the world to offer places to Afghan women keen to study physics. She says institutions and individuals who may be able to help should contact Physics without Frontiers at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics.

And Gibbons sing with synchronicity, a new study led by Teresa Raimondi, from the University of Turin shows the ability of couples to chorus together to be rather human like.

Image Credit: Josh Edelson

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Julian Siddle

One year on from the Tonga eruption

We’re taking a look back at the January 2022 eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, which literally sent shockwaves around the world. One year on, and we’re still uncovering what made the volcano so powerful, as well as unpacking its long lasting impacts.

Roland is joined by Professor Shane Cronin from the University of Auckland and Dr Marta Ribó from the Auckland University of Technology to share their findings from their latest trip to survey the volcano.

The impacts of the eruption weren’t just felt on Earth – they also reached all the way to space. Physicist Claire Gasque from the University of California, Berkeley, has been analysing how the eruption affected space weather.

Amongst all the material ejected by Hunga Tonga was a huge amount of water. The massive water vapour cloud is still present in our atmosphere, as Professor Simon Carn from the Michigan Technological University tells us.

The volcano also triggered tsunamis worldwide. Disaster sociologist Dr Sara McBride from the US Geological Survey has been using video footage of the event to analyse how people responded and how we can better prepare for future eruptions.

Image Credit: Tonga Geological Services

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Sophie Ormiston

2 episodes