Role Of Aerosols Behind High Precipitation Over The Himalayan Region
- Scientists have found that aerosols like black carbon and dust, which makes the Indo-Gangetic Plain one of the most polluted regions of the world, have led to increased incidents of high rainfall events in the foothills of the Himalayan Region.
- The Indo-Gangetic Plain is located south and upwind of the Himalayan foothills. The region is associated with high aerosol loading, much of which is black carbon and dust, and thus provides an opportunity for studying how aerosol affects extreme rainfall events, particularly when air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain technically called orographic forcing.
- Scientists highlighted the crucial role of the aerosol direct radiative effect on high precipitation events over the Himalayan region.
- They showed that particulate emissions can alter the physical and dynamical properties of cloud systems and, in turn, amplify rainfall events over orographic regions downwind of highly polluted urban areas.
- Thy found clear associations between high precipitation events, high aerosol loading, and high moist static energy (MSE) values (Moist static energy of an air mass includes the potential energy due to its height above the ground and the latent heat due to its moisture content). The findings also highlight the crucial role of the radiative effect of aerosol on high precipitation events over the Himalayan region.
- The results of the study indicate that aerosols can play a vital role in exciting high precipitation (HP) events over the Himalayas during the monsoon season. Thus, aerosols, including chemistry, are essential to consider when forecasting HP events over the Himalayan region in regional modelling studies.
National Wildlife Week 2020
Wildlife Week is celebrated all over the country in the month of October from 2nd to 8th October every year to protect animal life. It was first started in the year 1952.
Initiatives/ Events This Year
- The government is working towards the upgradation and development of 160 Zoos in Public Private Partnership (PPP) across the country to encourage interaction between wildlife and humans, and help people observe and understand wildlife behaviour more closely.
- A report of the Central Zoo Authority and The Energy and Resources Institute (CZA-TERI) titled “Economic valuation of ecosystem services, National Zoological Park, New Delhi” was released.The report highlights the importance of habitats such as zoos to human wellbeing and the need of replication across India.
- The study first of its kind in India and perhaps the entire World, pegs the total annual economic value of the ecosystem services (biodiversity conservation, employment generation, carbon sequestration, education and research, recreational and cultural) at around 423 crore (2019-20) whereas, the total value of the one-time cost of services such as carbon storage and land value provided by the zoo is estimated to be around 55,000 crore.
- The CZA-PraniMitra awards were given to encourage the zoo officers and staff towards working for captive animal management and welfare.
- CZA which was established to oversee the functioning of Indian zoos and complement the wildlife conservation strategies through ex-situ measures, as on today recognizes around 160 zoo and rescue centers that enforce global standards in animal housing and welfare. Over 567 captive animal species (with 114 species under endangered category) with overall 56481 individual animals are currently housed in Indian zoos.
Himalayan Geothermal Springs Release Huge Amount Of Carbon Dioxide In The Atmosphere
- The Himalayan geothermal springs which cover about 10,000 square km in the Garhwal region of Himalaya, show a significant discharge of Carbon dioxide (CO2) rich water. This was found by Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, which investigated and characterised the gas emissions from these springs. The estimated carbon dioxide degassing (removal of dissolved gases from liquids, especially water or aqueous solutions) flux is nearly 7.2 ×106 mol/year to the atmosphere.
- The study suggested that CO2 in these thermal springs are sourced from metamorphic decarbonation of carbonate rocks present deep in the Himalayan core along with magmatism and oxidation of graphite. Most of the geothermal water is dominated by evaporation followed by weathering of silicate rocks. Isotopic analyses further point towards a meteoric source for geothermal water.
Why the Study is Important?
- Carbon outflux from Earth’s interior to the exosphere through volcanic eruptions, fault zones, and geothermal systems contribute to the global carbon cycle that effects short and long term climate of the Earth. Himalaya hosts about 600 geothermal springs having varied temperature and chemical conditions. Their role in regional and global climate, as well as the process of tectonic driven gas emission, needs to be considered while estimating emissions to the carbon cycle and thereby to global warming.
Localized Strain And Partial Melts In Shear Zones May Control Seismicity In Kumaun Himalaya
o Most research on seismic and landslide hazards in the Himalaya focus on geophysical and geomorphological characteristics. However, in many instances, the inherent cause of these natural disasters may lie deep in the subsurface and have geological implications like rock types, rheology (the study of deformation and flow of matter), strain localization, and so on. Therefore, understanding the geodynamic scenario of a given section of Himalaya is as important as its seismic and geomorphic characteristics in following natural disasters.
o A study by the Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun suggests that, unlike other parts of the western Himalaya, in Kumaun, partial melting of the crust is caused by activation of a tabular to sheet like, planar or curvi-planar zone composed of rocks that are more strained than rocks adjacent to the zone (major shear zones), instead of continuous zone of mid-crustal partial melts. The study also suggests that brittle deformation of these shear zones/ thrust planes may still control exhumation and seismicity in this region of the Himalaya.
- Inverted Metamorphism: The research shows inverted metamorphism (condition in which higher-grade metamorphic rocks lie on top of lower-grade rocks), leading to partial melting of the Himalayan crust in two short spans of 27 to 32 and 22 to 26 million years.
- One Uniform Mechanism can’t explain evolution of the Himalayan metamorphic core: The study agrees with recent studies which suggest that one uniform mechanism cannot explain the evolution of the Himalayan metamorphic core. Activation of major thrusts and different mechanisms may operate at different cross-sections of this orogeny with channel flow (long-lasting flow of a weak, viscous crustal layer between relatively rigid yet deformable bounding crustal slabs) being dominant in the hinterland, and at ductile regime.On the other hand, the critical taper, or wedge-like extrusion and forward propagation of thrust sheets, is more pronounced on the foreland and in the brittle regime. It has also been shown that the effect of channel flow is completely absent in various sections of the Himalaya. Therefore, different transects may have different mechanisms of exhumations (exposure of land surface that was formerly buried), thrust activity, and hence, different seismic and erosional characteristics.
- The Kali River Valley of Kumaun marks the international border between India and Nepal. This region experiences intense seismic and landslide events. The scientists carried out an integrated field, metamorphic modelling and geochronological investigation in the remote higher parts of the Kali River Valley and found the absence of any ‘channel flow’ or a regional scale mid-crustal zone of partial melt. The most important prerequisite for channel flow mechanism is protracted period of partial melting (20 to 30 million years at least).
- Short and Distinct Pulses of Magmatism:However, this study has shown short and distinct pulses of magmatism, which indicate events of strain localization and deformation along discreet shear zones. These shear zones, later in brittle regime, controlled exhumation along with the formation of new shear zones or thrusts that helped propagate and exhume the Himalayan core. Identification of these thrust zones on the basis of geological proxies help denote zones of seismicity and even landslides, as highly strained and crushed rocks present in thrust or fault zones are more susceptible to slope failure.
Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation Behind India’s 5-Decade Long Rainfall Decline
- In novel approach to understand natural variability factors behind five-decade long rainfall decline till the year 2000 in India, a group of scientists has now examined the differing trends in pre- and post-2000 Indian summer monsoon, its decline and recovery.
- The variability manifested itself in a decline in monsoon rainfall over north central India starting in the 1950s, which persisted for as long as five decades before a reversal from 1999 onwards.
- The study found that neither the five-decade long decline before 2000 nor the subsequent increase can be solely explained as a response to external climate forcing, instead, natural variability factor played the key role.
- External forcing includes changes in greenhouse gases, anthropogenic aerosols,land use, etc.
- Natural variability refers to variations in the mean state due to internal processes within the climate system.
- In addition to anthropogenic climate change, rainfall changes in recent decades are also influenced by natural sea surface temperature oscillation over Pacific basin.
- The prominent natural variability in Pacific sea surface temperature is usually described as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO).
- The scientists found that the differing phases of the IPO played subtle, but crucial supplementary roles in the recent inter-decadal variations of the ISM rainfall.
- Fluctuations in the IPO induced anomalous thermal contrasts between the north and south and changes to ascent and descent throughout the region. These, in turn, resulted in changes to the horizontal advection, from the west and east, of moisture into India.
Decarbonising Transport In India
- NITI Aayog in collaboration with International Transport Forum (ITF) has launched the “Decarbonising Transport in India” project on 24 June, with the intention to develop a pathway towards a low-carbon transport system for India.
- India has been a member of ITF, an intergovernmental organisation for transport policy, since 2008.
5 Mn-Year-Old Elephant Fossils Found Near Dehradun
- A camera-trap study in the reserve forests near Dehradun, which was conducted to develop a new tiger reserve, led to the discovery of one of the world's oldest fossil remains of elephants, dating back to 5 million years.
- The rare fossils of elephants suggest that the foothills of the Himalayas, the beautiful lush green Terai region in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, were once inhabited by giant elephants, giraffes, horses and hippopotamus.
- The sample, dating back to 5 to 8 million years, suggest the presence of Stegodon in the region.
- Stegodon is a genus of the extinct subfamily Stegodontinae of the order Proboscidea.Stegodonts were present from 11.6 million years ago (mya) to the late Pleistocene. There are unconfirmed records of regional survival until 4,100 years ago. Fossils are found in Asian and African strata dating from the late Miocene.
Schizothorax Sikusirumensis: New Fish Species
- A new species of fish has been discovered in Arunachal Pradesh and is named as Schizothoraxsikusirumensis. The name of this fish species has been derived from the name of the rivers where it was found.
- This fish was collected from the junction of River Siku and Sirum near Gakang area under Mebo circle of East Siang District. The fish inhabits the water logged area of torrential river drainage.
- Researchers have unearthed teeth belonging to a mammal called MagallanodonBaikashkenke that lived 74 million years ago, on a dig near Torres del Paine National Park, a remote area of Patagonia famous for its glacier-capped Andean spires and frigid ocean waters.
- The small mammal would have lived in southern Patagonia during the late Cretaceous era, alongside dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles and birds.
Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020
- The Global Forest Resources Assessment report has been released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- The FRA 2020 has examined the status of, and trends in, more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period 1990–2020.
- Forest area has declined all across the world in the past three decades.
- The world lost 178 million hectare (mha) of forest since 1990, an area the size of Libya.
- The rate of forest loss has also declined due to the growth of sustainable management.
- The world’s total forest area was 4.06 billion hectares (bha), which was 31 per cent of the total land area. This area was equivalent to 0.52 ha per person.
- Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010–2020, at 3.9 mha, followed by South America, at 2.6 mha.
- Asia had the highest net gain of forest area in 2010–2020, followed by Oceania and Europe.
- The largest proportion of the world’s forests were tropical (45 per cent), followed by boreal, temperate and subtropical.
Oil India To Explore Hydrocarbons In Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
- The Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) gave green clearance for the extension drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations by OIL under Dibru-Saikhowa National Park area in Assam’s Tinsukia district.
- The MoEFCC clearance comes close on the heels of the National Board of Wild Life’s (NBWL) approval on April 17, allowing Coal India Limited to carry out opencast and underground coal mining in a portion of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve in the state.
- Spread over 340 square kilometres, Dibru-Saikhowa is one of the five national parks in the north-east region’s most populous state. The park, which is also a biosphere reserve, is home to 36 mammal species including tiger, Gangetic dolphin, feral horses, etc. and 382 bird species.
- OIL will not enter the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park area and operations will be conducted through extended reach drilling (ERD) technology. ERD is used to explore for hydrocarbon far from the surface or areas of the reservoir, which are otherwise difficult to access.
‘Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus’: 1st Known Aquatic Dinosaur
- A team of scientists from various Universities of the United States have discovered a carnivorous (meat eating) swimming dinosaur named “Spinosaurus aegyptiacus” at the Kem Kem region of the Moroccan Sahara in North Africa.
- Unlike other theropod dinosaurs, the 50-feet (15 meters) long Spinosaurus used its tail for swimming to actively hunt for prey in rivers.
- Lived about 95 million years ago (Cretaceous period), spinosaurus was even longer than an adult Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex).
African Swine Fever
- Assam government is battlingthe contagious African Swine Fever (AFS), which has so far killed thousands of pigs in the state. It has also spread in Arunachal Pradesh.
- This is the first time the disease has spread in India.
- African swine feveris fatal for domestic pigs, with almost 100 per cent mortality rate. The disease spreads from animal to animal. There has not been an instance of humans contracting the disease.
- ASF is a severe viral disease that affects wild and domestic pigs typically resulting in an acute haemorrhagic fever.
- It is differentiated from Classical Swine Fever (CSF), whose signs may be similar to ASF, but is caused by a different virus for which a vaccine exists.
- While ASF is lethal, it is less infectious than other animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease. But as of now, there is no approved vaccine, which is also a reason why animals are culled to prevent the spread of infection.
Uttarakhand Releases Report On Conservation Of Endemic, Threatened Floras
- Uttarakhand has become the first state to release a unique report highlighting its conservation efforts to save over 1,100 rare plants from extinction.
- Conservation of endemic species is considered to be particularly important as they exist in one geographical region only.
- As per the report, the main aim of this project is also to promote conservation of plant species among the general public so as to end ‘plant blindness’, a term coined by US botanist Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandersee in 1998 – meaning inability to see or notice plants in one’s own environment.
- It is because of ‘plant blindness’ that most of the conservation efforts, public attention and funds are diverted into conservation of glamorous mega fauna species like tiger and elephants, there by completely neglecting plant conservation despite the fact that they play much more important ecological role.
IDEAthon On “The Future Of River Management’
- The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) organized an IDEAthon on “The future of River Management’ to explore how the COVID-19 crisis can shape River Management strategies for the future.
- The IDEAthon examined how the social angle of rivers can be leveraged on to address other crises. What lessons for river management has the pandemic taught us? And what response mechanisms are needed in the event of a river crisis?
- National Mission for Clean Ganga had initiated this IDEAthon to garner more attention towards river management and also highlight the interconnectivity of Cities with the River.
Prey, Predator Estimation In TATR
- A new prey and predator estimation in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra has found the presence of 115 tigers and 151 leopards.
- Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is located in Chandrapur district in Maharashtra.
- The reserve includes the Tadoba National Park and the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary.
Coal Mining In Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve
- National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) has approved to a proposal recommending usage of 98.59 hectares of land at Saleki (which falls under Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve in Assam) proposed reserve forest for coal mining project under North-Eastern Coal Field (NECF), a unit of Coal India Limited.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Based Vehicles
- To decarbonizing mobility segment, Global EoI has been issued by NTPC's wholly owned subsidiary, NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) Limited to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) based electric buses and an equal number of Hydrogen Fuel Cell based electric cars in Leh and Delhi.
- The move to procure Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles is first of its kind project in the country, wherein a complete solution from green energy to the fuel cell vehicle would be developed.
- The initiative, which has been undertaken with support of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, will also harness renewable energy for generation of hydrogen and develop it's storage and dispensation facilities as part of pilot projects at Leh and Delhi.
Lesser Adjutant Stork Multiplying In Fields
- In a first-of-its kind study in Asia, researchers have found the lesser adjutant stork that was thought to avoid human-modified areas like agricultural landscapes is multiplying there.
- The study in lowlands of Nepal highlights the high value that agricultural areas can have for conserving even large water birds like the lesser adjutant stork.
- It is Vulnerable according to IUCN Red List.
- It is a widespread species found from India through Southeast Asia to Java.
- Researchers at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune have developed a sensitive and low-cost sensor to rapidly detect bacteria.
- The ‘bug sniffer,’ which is a biosensor that uses synthetic peptides, magnetic nanoparticles, and quantum dots to detect the presence of bacteria, providing a cost- and time-effective way of screening water and foodborne pathogens.
- The conventional techniques available for pathogen detection are less sensitive and cannot detect low cell numbers, besides being time-consuming and laborious whereas the ARI device, can detect pathogens with a limit of detection of 10 cells per 1 mL within 30 minutes.
- The most common disease-causing bacteria Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium can be detected individually and simultaneously.
- D Vasini Bai, a women innovator from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, has developed 10 varieties of Anthurium.
- National Innovation Foundation-India (NIF)has facilitated mass multiplication and large scale production of four highly demanded varieties through tissue culture technique at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore, for the diffusion of the varieties in similar agro-climatic zones of the country.
- Anthurium is one of the best domestic flowering plants in the world. It purifies the surrounding air and remove harmful airborne chemicals like formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, xylene, and allergens.
- NASA has placed it in the list of air purifier plants.
National Policy On Biofuels, 2018 On Surplus Food Grains
- In a recent meet of National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) it was approved that the surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) may be converted to ethanol for utilization in making alcohol-based hand-sanitizers and in blending for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme.
- National Policy on Biofuels, 2018 envisages that during an agriculture crop year when there is projected over supply of food grains as anticipated by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, the policy will allow conversion of these surplus quantities of food grains to ethanol, based on the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC).
Community Forest Resources
The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) noted in a study that state-level guidelines must be created for sustainable resource usage in areas where community forest resource (CFR) rights are given under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA). The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in February 2019.
- MoTA must issue broad guidelines and principles for implementation of CFRs, mentioning specific role of the state forest department, state tribal/social welfare department, revenue department and gram sabhas.
- State governments should prepare state-specific guidelines on the basis of MoTA’s guidelines.
- MoTa should focus on capacity-building of gram sabha members, assessment of the biomass stock and biodiversity conservation.
- Focus on capacity building programmes to educate various stakeholder government departments about the acts/schemes/policies.
- The micro-plans prepared by gram sabha for their respective CFR should be a part of the working plans of forest division concerned, so that forest staff could facilitate the implementation of sustainable forest management.
COVID-19 Flattens Peak-hour Pollution
An analysis carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment has assessed hourly trend in PM2.5 and NO2 levels during the day before and after the lockdown and also on the day of the Janata curfew.
- As vehicles go off the road after the country-wide lockdown in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the typical two humps of daily pollution coinciding with morning and evening traffic peak-hours have nearly flattened out in India’s big cities.
- As cities slow down to fight the pandemic, daily average levels of particulate matter of size less than 2.5 micron (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have reduced sharply from the pre-lockdown days by close to more than half in Delhi and the towns of the national capital region (NCR).
- A similar trend is evident in other big cities including Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. But the impact of this overall declining trend is dramatic on daily peak-hour pollution.
- This brings out the pronounced effect of traffic on hourly pollution trends. With traffic minimised, hourly trends have plummeted, reducing daily exposures to toxic vehicular pollution.
GreenCo Rating System
GreenCo Rating, developed by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), has been acknowledged in India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) document, submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, as a proactive voluntary action of Indian industry / private sector towards combating climate change.
- Assessment and rating of major Workshops and Production Units of Indian Railways as Green Industrial Units started with ‘GreenCo’ certification in 2016-17.
- It helps the industrial units in identifying and implementing various possible measures in terms of energy conservation, material conservation, recycling, utilisation of renewable energy, Green House Gases (GHG) reduction, water conservation, solid and liquid waste management, green cover etc. Increasing focus in these areas helps Railways in resource conservation and reduction in intensity of environmental impact.
CARBON AS OLD AS 8,000 YEARS FOUND IN DEEPEST BLUE HOLE
- Carbon more than 8,000 years old has been found inside the world's deepest blue hole — the Yongle Blue Hole (YBH) — which was recently discovered in the South China Sea.
- This finding will help in studying carbon cycling and potential mechanisms controlling it.
- Blue holes are marine caverns filled with water and are formed following dissolution of carbonate rocks, usually under the influence of global sea level rise or fall. What distinguishes them from other aquatic caverns is that they are isolated from the ocean and don’t receive fresh rainwater. They are generally circular, steep-walled and open to surface.
- YBH has a depth of 300 metres, far deeper than the previously recorded deepest blue hole, Dean’s Blue Hole in Bahamas, which had a depth of 202 metres.
Animal Culture Linked To Conservation For The First Time
- A report on conserving Sperm Whales and Chimpanzees based on their culture was presented in the 13th Conference of Parties CMS (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)). This is the first time that a conservation strategy based on animal culture was considered in CMS.
- Animal Culture is the learning of non-human species through socially transmitted behaviour. It is believed that animals learn from their adults or peers, the ability of acquiring knowledge, choosing optimal migration routes, etc.
Warming, Acidic Oceans May Nearly Eliminate Coral Reef Habitats By 2100
- Rising sea surface temperatures and acidic waters could eliminate nearly all existing coral reef habitats by 2100, and restoration of projects in these areas will likely meet serious challenges, according to a new research presented in the Ocean Sciences Meeting, 2020.
- The study further states that cleaning beaches, combating land pollution are decent but not concrete enough measures in ensuring sustenance of coral reefs. The preliminary findings, as per the report, suggest sea surface temperature and acidity are the most important factors in determining if a site is suitable for restoration.
Vulture Population Down From 4 Crore To 4 Lakh In 3 Decades
- While addressing the media before CoP 13 (CMS), Environment Minister said that the number of vultures reduced from 4 crore to 4 lakh in three decades .
- The major reason for decline in the population of vultures has been the use of ‘Diclofenac’, a veterinary drug used to treat cattle.
- Vultures are known to be of vital importance for ecosystem as they feed on dead cattle. This scavenging act helps in allaying diseases caused by animal leftovers like rabies, anthrax, etc.
- Vulture is listed as 'Critically Endangered' under IUCN Red List since 2002.
- Diclofenac application on cattle is not yet banned Pan-India except Tamil Nadu which has put a ban on application of Diclofenac for cattle treatment.
NGT Calls For Scientific Disposal Of Fly Ash
- The National Green Tribunal has directed thermal power plants in the country to take prompt steps towards scientific disposal of fly ash (a by-product of thermal power plant).
- It asked the thermal power plants to follow the statutory notification of MoEFCC under Environment Protection Act, 1986 (requiring 100% utilization and disposal of fly ash).
European Green Deal
- The European Commission (an executive branch of the EU) has launched an ambitious roadmap termed the Green Deal at the CoP25, Madrid event that aims to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 by addressing environmental challenges while, at the same time, promoting an efficient use of resources.
Climate Change Performance Index 2020
- India is among the top 10 nations (ranked 9th) for the first time as per the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) released at the CoP25 Madrid, Spain.
- The CCPI 2020 results illustrate the main regional differences in climate protection and performance within the 57 evaluated countries and the EU.
- Indicators: The ranking results are defined by a country’s aggregated performance in 14 indicators within the four categories “GHG Emissions”, “Renewable Energy” and “Energy Use”, as well as on “Climate Policy”.
- Sweden leads the ranking on rank 4, followed by Denmark (5) and Morocco (6). The three countries are Chinese Taipei (59), Saudi Arabia (60) and the United States (61), rated low or very low across almost all categories.
- Still no country performs well enough in all index categories to achieve an overall very high rating in the index. Therefore, once again the first three ranks remain empty.
- Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and the Climate Action Network publish the Index annually.
Rhinos To Be Re-introduced In Uttarakhand
- The Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board has cleared a proposal by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to introduce rhinoceroses in the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) to boost tourism and revive the habits of species that survive on low-height grass. Rhinos were once found in the Terai grassland in the state and adjoining areas but were wiped out by poaching.
- The geographical terrain and environmental conditions in CTR are suitable for rhinos. The ideal sites chosen in Corbett are valley habitats bounded on either side by the lower Himalayas (north), Shivalik Hills (south) and the Ramganga Reservoir (east), which would also act as natural barriers to rhino movement outside these area, there by minimising conflict with people.
IUCN Adds 1840 New Species To Red List
- The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added 1,840 new species to its catalogue of plants and animals that risk extinction. The list now contains more than 30,000 species under threat of disappearing. The IUCN mentioned it was increasingly clear that climate change on its own was a growing threat.
- The latest update was released at COP25 climate talks in Madrid.
'Swachchh Samundra NW-2019
- It was an exercise conducted at sea off Vadinar in Gulf of Kutch by the Indian Coast Guard to reinforce the response mechanism for oil spill/pollution incidents and to fine-tune the actions required in such eventualities.
- The Gulf of Kutch (GoK) region handles 70 per cent of the oil imported by India and 11 Single point Moorings (SPMs) out of total 27 SPMs i.e. 42 per cent in the country are located in this area.
More Plastic Pollution On Maharashtra Beaches Than K'taka, Goa
- Beaches in Maharashtra are more polluted with microplastics and macroplastics than those in Goa and Karnataka, according to a study conducted by Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).
- The study has blamed plastic industries located near the shore and increased tourism activities for the pollution.
- Plastics less than five millimeters in length are called 'microplastics' and the relatively larger particles, of more than 5 mm, are classified as 'macroplastics'.
South China Salamander: World’s Biggest Amphibian
- Using DNA from museum specimens, researchers have found that South China Salamander (Andrias sligoi) is the largest amphibian.
- Chinese giant salamanders, which are critically endangered and can grow to nearly 2m long, were previously thought to be of a single species until new research revealed not one, but three different genetic lineages. Only two of them have been analysed by the researchers.
Greater Adria: A Continent Found Buried Deep Beneath Europe
- Researchers from Utrecht University have revealed a piece of continental crust, named Greater Adria for the Adriatic region it settled in, broke away from North Africa more than 200 million years ago.
- Much of the territory was plunged into the earth’s mantle, however some of the landmass has remained visible – making up a strip of land across Italy that stretches from Turin in the north to Puglia in the south.
- Earth’s modern-day continents were joined together in one Pac-Man-shaped supercontinent known as Pangea, which eventually split into two fragments: Laurasia in the north and Gondwana in the south.
Other Recent Discoveries
- Mauritia: A lava-covered piece of continent found under the popular island of Mauritius in Indian Ocean.
- Zealandia: It is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, including New Zealand, New Caledonia and two Australian islands, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. The continent spans 1.9 million square miles but the bulk of it 94% is under the Pacific Ocean.
- It was a campaign launched on World Rhino Day on September 22 by WWF India and Animal Planet with Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma as the face of the programme to help build awareness for the need to conserve the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros or the Indian Rhino.
- It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
- It is the state animal of Assam.
- There are an estimated 3,500 Indian rhinos left in the world, out of which 82 per cent are found in India.
- Once found abundantly across the Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra river basins, the animal is now found only in select pockets in Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
NGT & RO Purifiers Issue
- The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for the delay in issuing a notification to ban RO purifiers where total dissolved solids (TDS) in water are below 500 milligrams per litre and sensitise public about the ill-effects of demineralised water.
A Green Wall To Prevent Desertification
- It is a 1,400km-long and 5km-wide green corridor all the way from Panipat in Haryana to Porbandar in Gujarat, at its conception stage.
- The corridor will act as a barrier against the heat and dust that blows in from the west.
- The Aravalli range, which separates western India’s Thar Desert from the relatively green plains to its east, has lost so much green cover that it is losing its ability to act as a natural barrier.
- It would be modelled on the so-called Great Green Wall of Africa that was envisioned to run from Djibouti in the continent’s east to Senegal in its west.
29th BASIC Ministerial Meet On Climate Change
- The 29th ministerial meeting of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) countries on Climate Change was held at Beijing, China.
- BASIC countries have urged developed nations to adhere to the commitment made under the Paris Agreement and provide finance and technology to the developing world.
- The MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) project will take a modern research icebreaker laden with scientific instruments close to the North Pole in winter.
- It will be the first year-round expedition into the central Arctic exploring the Arctic climate system.
- It will contribute to a quantum leap in our understanding of the coupled Arctic climate system and its representation in global climate models.
- The focus of MOSAiC lies on direct in-situ observations of the climate processes that couple the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem.
- Vishnu Nandan, a remote sensing scientist from Kerala will be the only Indian among 300 scientists all over the world aboard the multidisciplinary drifting observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition.
Poba Reserved Forest
- The Poba Reserved Forest will soon be a wildlife sanctuary.
- MoEFCC has directed the Assam government to take necessary steps to declare the Poba reserve forest in the state’s Dhemaji district a wildlife sanctuary.
Poison Fire Coral
- Poison Fire Coral is one of world’s deadliest fungi.
- It was found recently in north Queensland, a long way from its usual home in Japan and Korea.
- Poison fire coral, typically found on tree roots and in the soil, is the only known fungus whose toxins are absorbed through the skin.