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Weekly Digest 14th August

For this week we have a compact sensor to detect harmful gases, how aerosols affect the Indian monsoon, how to best integrate solar cells integrated into building roofs, where the invasive plant Lantana likes to live and a report on Earth Science initiatives in India.

1) Atmospheric aerosols affect the Indian monsoon remotely

Aerosols are extremely small solid or liquid particles that remain suspended in air. Examples of such aerosols include dust, smoke and deodorant sprays. Apart from causing local air pollution, these particles reflect and absorb radiation from the sun and hence affect both local and global climate. A recent study published in the International Journal of Climatology has investigated how soot aerosols accumulating in other parts of Asia influence the Indian summer monsoon.
2) Making your roof generate electricity
*With images*
The Centre for Sustainable Technologies at the Indian Institute of Science has an unusual roof made up of solar panels. The panels, sitting on top of the terrace, produce 5.25 kW of power by harvesting sunlight, which is sufficient to run four tubelights, four fans and a couple of computers.
IMAGE: Building Photovoltaics. | The Building Integrated Photovoltaic System at Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Indian Institute of Science.
3) The invasive plant Lantana likes living next to streams
*with images*
Lantana, a plant species introduced in India about 200 years ago, is not just an alien species, but is also considered invasive. It has been proliferating rapidly across many habitats in India, attaining the status of an infamous wed. Finding ways to control its spread is still a challenge for both scientists and forest managers. A recent study has shone light on the conditions under which lantana proliferates.
Lantana 1: Lantana infesting an entire hill in Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Photo: R. Sukumar)
Lantana 2: Flowers and fruits of lantana that pollinators and fruit eating animals and birds find attractive (Photo: R. Sukumar)
4) A compact sensor to detect harmful gases
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have developed a tiny gas sensor that can detect harmful gases like toluene and acetone, gases that we encounter in our daily lives. These sensors could replace the big, expensive instruments that are currently available in the market.  
5) News story: Earth science initiatives in india
The intricate processes that affect weather patterns have perplexed humans across the ages. In an article published in the Journal of the Indian Institute of Science the well-known scientist Roddam Narasimha talks of earth system science as a “strong candidate for a visionary program for the 21st century”. Earth system science looks at earth as a system, whose components are earth, oceans and its atmosphere.