Environment - Current Affairs for February, 2016

Environment Current Affairs for February, 2016

Month wise coverage of Environment Current Affairs helps you improve your general knowledge and prepare for all competitive exams like IBPS, Bank PO, SBI PO, RRB, RBI, LIC, Specialist Officer, Clerk, SSC, UPSC, Railway etc. This section is updated daily with the most important events.

Preparing Environment Current Affairs February, 2016

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▼ GoI released draft rules on emission standards for various categories   [02-29-16]

Moving directly to Euro VI emission norms for petrol and diesel from April 1, 2020, government has come up with draft rules on emission standards for varying categories of vehicles. Specifying mass emission standards for BS-VI for numerous category vehicles including those with gross weight value not exceeding 3500 kg manufactured on or after April 1, 2020 for all models, government has sought suggestion within a month and the rules have been called the Central Motor Vehicles Amendment Rules 2016. Draft of certain rules aims at amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 which the central government proposed to make in exercise with powers conferred under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. Government decided to jump from Euro IV to Euro VI emission norms and oil plus will invest INR 28,750 crore for the transition.

▼ Scientists create Cyberforests to study impact of climate change on real forests   [02-29-16]

Scientists have created cyberforests or computer simulations that grow realistic 3D forests right down to branches, leaves and roots of individual trees. This is to see how climate related changes like drought and wildfires impact real forests. Model called LES uses computing power to grow drought and shade tolerant trees which can be scaled to actual forest size. This is the only forest growing simulator that comes up with intricate root systems and canopy structures for every tree while previous forest simulators could only grow one or another. Researchers used a blend of data from US Department of Agriculture’s Forest and Inventory Analysis Programme and other forestry database alongside aerial reconnaissance from UAV or drones for customising models to certain forests.

▼ Harvard scientists design new material to harvest water from thin air   [02-26-16]

Harvard scientists have designed a new material akin to organisms such as cacti, pitcher plants and desert beetles which harvest water from thin air. This is the first step towards developing a system that can collect water and guide it to reservoirs. While the Namib beetle collects water droplets on the bumps of its shell, the V shaped cactus spines move droplets into the body of the plant. Complex bioinspired approach involves the use of these natural systems and SLIPS/Slipper Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces Technology to collect and direct flow of water droplets that are condensed.

▼ Sea sponges were the first animals on earth: MIT   [02-25-16]

The first animal to appear on earth was the sea sponge, according to MIT researchers, as they predate the Cambrian explosion during which large number of new animals came about. MIT studied the discovery through analysis of molecular fossils which are trace amounts of molecules found in ancient rocks surviving till current times.

▼ India to host Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conversation   [02-24-16]

India, home to nearly 70% of the world's tiger population, will host the next Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation and the 3 day event will commence on April 12. All tiger range countries (TRCs) will participate in the conference where their representatives would share their good practices and success stories towards conserving tigers.According to the 2014 tiger census, India has 2,226 tigers with the three southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala of the Western Ghats recording nearly 1/3rd of the country's total number of big cats. Karnataka has the highest number of tigers (406) followed by 340 (Uttarakhand), 308 (Madhya Pradesh), 229 (TN), as well as 190 in Maharashtra, 167 in Assam, 136 in Kerala and 117 in Uttar Pradesh.

▼ Sea level rising fastest in 28 centuries: Scientists   [02-24-16]

Scientists reconstructed the level of the sea over time and confirmed that it is most likely rising faster than at any point in 28 centuries, with rate of increase growing sharply over the past century. They also confirmed that if emissions were to continue at the rate over next few decades, the ocean could rise as much as three or four feet by 2100. Extreme weather events are likely to increase as part of the rise in sea level.

▼ India’s second solar slum set up in West Bengal   [02-24-16]

The state's first and country's second solar slum was inaugurated on Tuesday by state power minister Manish Gupta at Topsia's Majdoor Para area falling under ward number 66 of the Kolkata municipal corporation. 800 families living in the slums benefited from solar domes developed by experts.

▼ India has overtaken China in air pollution: Greenpeace   [02-23-16]

India has surpassed China’s air pollution levels in 2015 and average particulate matter exposure was higher for the first time in the 21st C, according to Greenpeace India analysis of NASA satellite data. This marks the first time in this century that average particulate matter exposure was higher for Indian citizens than that of Chinese people.World Health Organization (WHO) states India has 13 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world with deteriorating air pollution levels in the past decade, especially in North India. Greenpeace has shown in its NAQI National Air Quality Index Report that 15 of the 17 Indian cities with such stations showed levels of air pollution far exceeding prescribed standards in India. In 2015, India particulate pollution stands higher than that of China, after increasing at an average rate of 2 per cent over the past decade.

▼ Expanding LWE affected areas, GoI relaxes green norms   [02-22-16]

For increasing creation of public infrastructure in LWE affected areas by government departments. Centre has extended the relaxation of green norms for projects till December 2018. General approval has been extended up to December 31, 2018. The aim is to expedite infrastructure growth and development in 60 LWE affected areas identified by Planning Commission for Implementation of the Integrated Action Plan. This was further extended to 117 LWE areas till December 2018.

▼ 2015-2016 El Nino phenomenon begins decline   [02-19-16]

2015- 2016 El Nino weather phenomenon has continued its decline and have strong influence on international climate patterns, according to UN weather agency World Meteorological Organisation. El Nino which is the warm phase of ENSO or El Nino Southern Oscillation occurs every 2 to 7 years. It may have passed its peak, but it continues to raise ocean temperature. One of the most powerful El Nino events is the one in 2015-2016, said to be the worst in 15 years whereby ocean temperatures were more than 2.0 degree C above average. This phenomenon has fuelled record global heat in the current year and is comparable to the ones in the 1982-83 and 1997-98 span.

▼ January 2016 hottest month since 1880s: NOAA   [02-19-16]

Last month saw the hottest January in modern times with average global temperature across land and clean surfaces being 1.87 degree F or 1.04 degree C above the 20th century average for this month, according to US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This was the hottest January since 1880s surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.29 degree F. December 2015 was also the hottest month in 136 years.

▼ Green building industry to rise by 20% in India in coming 3 years: USGBC   [02-19-16]

US Green Building council has announced results of the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report where USGBC is a contributing renter. It estimates that by 2018, green building industry will grow by 20% largely driven by environmental regulations and demand for healthier neighbourhoods. Report which was conducted in close to 70 nations demonstrated that global green building will double every three years and that green building programmes such as LEED have transformed markets across the world. In India, there are more than 1,990 projects, comprising more than 822 million sq ft of space, participating in LEED.

▼ First fossil specimens of asterid found   [02-18-16]

Scientists have discovered the first fossil specimens of the asterid, a family of flowering plants ranging from petunias to potatoes and tomatoes. The 20 to 30 million year old fossil flowers were found in piece of amber came from the darker side of the asterid family belonging to the genus Strychnos which is the base for famous poisons such as curare and strychnine. Asterids are among the most important and diverse plants with 10 orders, 98 families and 80,000 species representing one third of the earth’s diversity of angiosperms or flowing plants. There are now about 200 species of Strychnos plants around the world, in forms ranging from shrubs to trees and woody climbing vines, mostly in the tropics studied for medicinal properties.

▼ Canada, US and Mexico sign landmark climate change deal   [02-15-16]

Canada, US and Mexico signed a deal in Winnipeg to tap into energy cooperation between the 3 nations. The Memorandum of Understanding on Climate Change and Energy Collaboration was signed at the meeting. As per this MoU, the three countries will share as well as collaborate information in areas such as energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction.

▼ World’s largest solar power plant opens in Morocco   [02-11-16]

Noor Ouarzazate Solar Complex, world’s largest solar power plant, was launched in the Souss-Massa-Drâa area in Morocco, 10 km from Ouarzazate town. The plant which can power over one million homes by 2018 was unveiled on 4th February 2016. Phase 1 of the project involved the construction of a 160MW concentrated solar power plant called Noor I. Phase 2 involved the construction of the 200MW Noor II CSP plant and the 150MW Noor III CSP plant, and Phase 3 will concern the construction of the Noor IV CSP plant. World Bank has provided partial funding for the solar power plant.

▼ US SC crushes President Obama’s Clean Power Plan   [02-11-16]

US SC delivered a massive blow to President Barack Obama by holding in place federal regulations for curbing CO2 emissions mostly from coal fired power plants which aimed to combat climate change. Court voted 5-4 along ideological viewpoint to permit request by 27 states and numerous companies to block the Clean Power Plan. This plan mandates a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Plan was aimed at lowering carbon emissions from US power plants by 2030 to 32% below 2005 levels.

▼ CPCB launches NAQI for 24 cities   [02-9-16]

Central Pollution Control Board during the first week of February 2016 published the National Air Quality Indices for over 24 cities. The indices are published with colour code and numerical value to compare pollution levels across different cities. NAQI measures 8 pollutants namely particulate matter, SO2, NO2, CO, O3, NH3 and Pb. Varanasi in UP and Muzzafarpur in Bihar led the list with a AQI value of 409 points while the capital city of Delhi stood at sixth position.

▼ Sariska gets increasing tourist footfall, MEE positive evaluation   [02-4-16]

Sariska has received increasing tourist footfall as well as positive Management Effective Evaluation report for country’s 47 tiger reserves. Saris has improved the status within the past 4 years following effective management and flora as well as fauna conservation. This reserve had attained fair status in the previous MEE conducted in 2010-2011. In the MEE for 2014-2015, it has been placed in the category of good tiger reserves. Another tiger reserve which is now falling in the same category is Ranthambore tiger reserve. MEE is conducted by NCTA and WII and assess how well protected areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and community as well as tiger reserves are being managed.

▼ Scientists find signs of life in shallow mantle of Atlantic Ocean   [02-3-16]

Scientists have obtained massive sequence of rock samples from the shallow mantle of the Atlantic Ocean bearing signs of life, ocean crust movement and unique carbon cycling. Researchers collected rock samples using sea bed rock drills from UK and Germany which marks the first time technology has been used in ocean drilling. Aim of this expedition was assessing how mantle rocks are brought to the seafloor and undergo reaction with seawater. Scientists hold that such reactions may fuel life in the absence of sunlight giving an indication of how life must have developed early in the history of earth or on other planets. Team will also acquire knowledge how the carbon will be impacted between the rocks and the seawater- which are processes impacting climate change through carbon sequesterisation. Rocks collected within these expeditions give a unique record of deeper processes formed during the Atlantis Massif. One also gains valuable insight into how there is a reaction between rocks with circulating seawater at the seafloor through a process called serpentinisation and its impact for chemical cycles and life. During the drilling process, evidence was found for hydrogen and methane in samples. This can be eaten by microbes to grow and form more cells.