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EcosystemsAcross the Ganges to southwest Bangladesh and the Sundarbans

Across the Ganges to southwest Bangladesh and the Sundarbans

Across the Ganges to southwest Bangladesh and the Sundarbans

The subsequent morning our group of 23 American and Bangladeshi students and professors crossed the Jamuna River, because the Brahmaputra is understood here, to the Sirajganj Hard Point.  This concrete embankment was built to guard town of Sirajganj from the slow westward migration of the river.  Since it now stands out into the river, they’ve been extending the land to the north and south to even out the bank.  The Hard Point also provided an amazing view across the Jamuna.

Our group walking along the embankment of the Sirajganj Hard Point along the Jamuna River.

Through the long bus rides, we read, napped, listened to music and looked out the window at the various scenary.

We then headed west for the long drive to the Lalon Shah Bridge across the Ganges River, passing the nuclear power plant that’s under construction.  On the opposite side we headed to Kushtia, where the Gorai River branches off from the Ganges.  Arriving within the afternoon, we headed straight to Shilaidaha Kuthibari, the house of Rabindranath Tagore winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature.  His poems supply the words to the national anthems of each Bangladesh and India.

We passed the nuclear power plant under construction near the Ganges River.

A few of us posing by Shilaidaha Kuthibari, the house of Rabindranath Tagore. A famous author and poet, he got here from a wealthy zamindar family.

The Gorai River, a significant supplier of fresh water to southwestern Bangladesh has been silting up. People argue as as to if it’s because of the Farrakka Barrage in India diverting water, natural river evolution or climate change.  From an embankment near our hotel, we could see much of the river covered with sand and dredgers for keeping the channel clear.

A sand dredger sits within the remaining open channel of the Gorai River, working to maintain the river open within the dry season.

We headed closer to where the Gorai meets the Ganges. Here the sediment has shifted the bank by 1.5 km, narrowing the once wide offtake. While our interview team, talking to people about environmental change and migration, stayed to talk to people living in the primary village constructed outside the unique embankment, the remainder of us walked across the sands to the river after which north to the Ganges along a more moderen embankment.  We found dredgers filling within the land behind the brand new embankment with dredge spoils, banana orchards and visited a brick factory, all on land that was once the Gorai River.

Walking along the pile of dredge spoils along the side of the Gorai River.

Carol went ahead and located the river almost a mile east of the embankment that was the old riverbank.

After collecting everyone, we stopped for a late lunch at our hotel and commenced the long drive to Khulna.  After darkness fell, our speed slowed in order that we didn’t get to the ghat (dock) until after 8pm.  The wood country boat transported us to our home for the remainder of the trip, the M/V Kokilmoni.  I actually have been on this 85-foot Sundarban tourist boat multiple times. For a whole lot of SW Bangladesh and all the Sundarban Mangrove Forest, boats are the simplest solution to get around.

On board the wood country boat that takes us to and from the M/V Kokilmoni.

Brendan and Zazoe with the watermelons that they got on the ghat (dock) once we joined the Kokilmoni.

Our first stop is Sreenagar on Polder 32, an embanked island that was flooded for two years following Cyclone Aila in 2009.  The island has saline groundwater, so people can only grow one rice crop a 12 months planting throughout the monsoon.  We sailed partway there throughout the night so we could arrive within the morning.  A recent bridge built recently is just too low for the Kokilmoni to pass under, so we stopped before it and used the country boat for the last mile to Sreenagar.

Kazi Matin explains the Managed Aquifer Recharge system on Polder 32 and the issue of keeping it functioning.

Carol visiting with the family that owns the land containing her RSETs and watch over the equipment.

Carol Wilson showed us her RSET instrumentation that measures elevation change and sedimentation. Kazi Matin Ahmed showed us a now unused Managed Aquifer Recharge system that stores monsoon water underground to enhance availability throughout the dry season.  The dearth of fresh water throughout the dry season is a significant issue here.  I spoke about my GPS, on one other a part of the island, for measuring land subsidence.

Students in my class and from Dhaka University climb down the slippery walkway to our country boat to travel farther down the Polder.

After their presentations, we broke into 3 groups.  The now experienced migration interview team was one. A second group is studying landscape change from distant sensing, particularly the increasing tree cover farther east.  They can be conducting interviews to grasp the changes seen by the satellites over time. The rest, a bunch studying flooding in NE Bangaldesh using distant sensing, stayed with me and the opposite professors.

Certainly one of the project teams arriving by autorickshaw to affix us going to see the shrimp ponds.

We met the family hosting Carol’s equipment and so they immediately gave us cocoanut water and tamarind despite our protests.  Masud and Carol then demonstrated how the RSET measurements are made at considered one of her sites.  Their measurements are confirming that the land contained in the embankment, receiving neither monsoon floodwater nor the sediment it carries in sinking.  Meanwhile the water level, and the land open to the river, are rising.  The 1-1.5 meter difference in elevation is what caused the 2009 disaster as the inside of the polder flooded every high tide. And the issue is constant to worsen.  The polders initially improved agriculture, however the unexpected subsidence is a challenge to their sustainability. It has forced some areas to change to shrimp farming as a substitute of rice growing.

The 4 professors, myself, Carol Wilson, Kazi Matin Ahmed and Mahfuz Khan, posing in our trip t-shirts at a ghat.

We walked back to the embankment road and continued along the island by foot, by autorickshaw and our country boat, with the two interview teams joining us along the best way.  We went to the location of a large-scale industrial shrimp farm over half a kilometer across.  Certainly one of the interviewees that spoke to our students spoke of being forced off of her land, probably by the shrimp farm.  Perhaps they only leased their land reasonably than actually owning it.

The M/V Kokilmoni, the 85-foot Sundarban tourist boat that’s our home for many of the remainder of the trip.

We then all headed back to the Kokilmoni for a 3 o’clock lunch and set sail for the Sundarbans, stopping for originally of the Sundarbans to select up and armed guard for the tigers.  We had a barbeque on the boat at the sting of the Sundarbans, before sailing to our next stop throughout the night.

Sailing up a small tidal channel in a silent boat ride at dawn to see wildlife on a foggy morning.

Before dawn, all of us arose for a silent boat ride up a tidal channel in the course of the forest.  This channel was once a meander loop within the river we’re traveling, however the river cut it off.  A lot of the loop has filled in with sediments and plants, so only a small creek stays.  We traveled in then cut the engine and continued by oar alone to hope to see wildlife within the early morning.  Unfortunately, it was a really foggy morning, so our sitings were few.  Still, we got to experience the forest close up.  On the best way back to the Kokilmoni, the crew bought fish from an area fisherman.  As we ate breakfast, the Kokilmoni began heading south to Katka on the shore of the Bay of Bengal.

Buying fresh fish from an area fisherman as we emerged from the tidal channel. We ate them later that day.


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