Environment - Current Affairs for October, 2017

Environment Current Affairs for October, 2017

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.

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  • Month & Year   
▼ Carbon dioxide grows at record rate in 2016!   [10-31-17]

Carbon dioxide grows at record rate in 2016! The amount of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere grew at record rate in 2016 to a level not seen for millions of years. This potentially fuelling a 20-metre rise in sea levels and adding 3 degrees to temperatures according to the UN. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main man-made greenhouse gas, hit 403.3 parts per million (ppm), up from 400.0 in 2015, the UN World Meteorological Organization's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin indicated. That growth rate was 50 per cent faster than the average over the past decade, driving CO2 levels 45 per cent above pre-industrial levels and further outside the range of 180-280 ppm seen in recent cycles of ice ages and warmer periods. Today's CO2 concentration of ~400 ppm exceeds the natural variability seen over hundreds of thousands of years. The latest data adds to the urgency of a meeting in Bonn next month, when environment ministers from around the world will work on guidelines for the Paris climate accord backed by 195 countries in 2015. The agreement is already under pressure because US President Donald Trump has said he plans to pull the United States out of the deal, which seeks to limit the rise in temperatures to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. Human CO2 emissions from sources such as coal, oil, cement and deforestation reached a record in 2016, and the El Nino weather pattern gave CO2 levels a further boost, the WMO said. As far as scientists can tell, the world has never experienced a rise in carbon dioxide like that of recent decades, which has happened 100 times faster than when the world was emerging from the last ice age. Scientists know prehistoric levels from tiny air bubbles found in ancient Antarctic ice cores, and they can derive even older data from fossils and chemicals trapped in sediment. CO2: Record Levels

  • The last time carbon dioxide levels reached 400 ppm was 3-5 million years ago, in the mid-Pliocene era.
  • During that period, global mean surface temperatures were 2-3°C warmer than today, ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica melted and even parts of East Antarctica's ice retreated, causing the sea level to rise 10-20 m higher than that today.
  • Since 1990, the global warming effect of CO2 and other long-lived greenhouse gases has risen by 40 percent.
  • The two other main gases - methane and nitrous oxide - also grew to record concentrations last year, although at a slower rate of increase than carbon dioxide.

▼ Clean Ganga mission uses bacterial bioremediation techniques   [10-31-17]

As urgency grows to show results for its Clean Ganga mission, the Centre is turning to bacterial bioremediation techniques to cut down the time lag in commissioning of Sewage Treatment Plants (STP). While STPs typically take two to three years to come up, large-scale application of bioremediation using 'sewage-eating microbes' quickens the process of improvement in the quality of river water, though only to an extent. Under bioremediation technique, the activated microbes eat up contaminants such as oil and organic matter. The bacteria play a vital role in treatment of sewage without causing any release of foul odour. The process thus also reduces stench from raw sewage. During the process of treatment, pollutants like heavy metals and toxic chemicals are reduced. The microbial dosing under the technique is done as per requirement assessed in terms of organic pollutants (microbial food) content in sewage. Referring to the long gestation period of STPs, bioremediation techniques are significantly less costly and require much shorter time duration of 6-8 months for commissioning and showing results. Implementing these techniques prevent degraded quality of water from flowing directly into river Ganga and its tributaries. The cost of the NMCG's identified projects ranges from INR 7 lakh to 17 crore, depending on sewage flow into the drain. Drains for Bioremediation

  • Some of the drains identified by the NMCG for application of bioremediation techniques include Golaghat, Ranighat and Budhiyaghat drains in Kanpur;
  • Sasurkhaderi and Mavaiya drains in Allahabad; Nagwa and Rajghat drains in Varanasi;
  • Saklichand drain in Bhagalpur and
  • Ramkrishna Mullick Ghat and Telkal Ghat drains in Howrah among others.

▼ Special protection by Bonn Convention to vulture species   [10-30-17]

Several species of vultures, including four that have India on their migratory routes, were awarded the highest protection by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals also known as Bonn Convention. The whale shark, which inhabits the Indian Ocean, got global protection too. However, the proposal to extend additional protection to the chinkara or Indian gazelle was withdrawn, the summit's organisers said. Delegates from 91 countries had attended the summit, the next edition of which will be held in India in 2020. The Asian vultures that are set to get collaborative international protection are the red-headed vulture, white-rumped vulture, Indian vulture and slender-billed vulture. They are faced with threats such as poisoning, hunting, collision with electricity cables and habitat degradation. A subspecies of the black noddy, the yellow bunting and the lesser and great grey shrike are the other avians on the protected list. The Caspian seal has also been identified for conservation. It is the only marine mammal found in the world's largest inland sea, where its migration is prompted by ice formation and foraging. Governments also agreed to cooperate on reducing the negative impact of marine debris, noise pollution, renewable energy and climate change on the lives of migratory species. Lions, chimpanzees, giraffes and leopards were marked out as species that needed additional protection. More than 120 states are party to the Convention, but this does not include China and many other Asian countries. The summit held in Manila has been the largest in the 38-year history of the Convention, which is also known as the Bonn Convention after the German city in which it was signed

▼ New monsoon forecasting tool!   [10-27-17]

Scientists have developed a new tool for objectively defining the onset and demise of the Indian Summer Monsoon - a colossal weather system that affects millions of people annually. The researchers from Florida State University in the US developed a method that uses rainfall rates to mark the span of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) at any given location throughout the affected region. For generations, scientists have struggled to produce a model for reliably defining the duration of the monsoon. The researchers said that no existing system has allowed researchers to reliably define the parameters of the season at this fine a scale. Current weather forecasting and monitoring protocols focus attention on monsoon onset at one location-specifically the state of Kerala in the southwest corner of the country-and extrapolate for the rest of the region. The lack of a clear, granular and objective benchmark for ISM onset and demise for all areas of the country has been a longtime source of consternation for people, researchers said. In some parts of the country, the torrents of rain that characterise monsoon season account for more than 90 per cent of the total annual precipitation, they said. Researchers said that many rhythms of Indian political and agricultural life can be destabilised by dubious or false claims of monsoon onset. The new system, which ties the onset of the monsoon to location-specific rainfall thresholds works well. Up until now, regional meteorological departments have relied on their own ad hoc criteria for determining ISM onset, which can often lead to contradicting claims. A more inclusive method will allow officials and researchers throughout the country to define the monsoon season using a standardised system that, through rigorous testing, has been shown to capture ISM evolution comprehensively. The system has been tested for 105 years of available data, and this criterion has not failed once for any location over India.

▼ Meet the Jurassic icthyosaur, a prehistoric fish lizard!   [10-26-17]

A near-complete Jurassic-era fossil of an intriguing animal that looks like a mashup of a dolphin and lizard, and lived during the twilight of the dinosaurs, has been unearthed in Kutch, Gujarat. Ichthyosaurs, or ‘fish- lizards’ in Greek, were large reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs. While many ichthyosaur fossils have been found in North America and Europe, the fossil record in the Southern Hemisphere has mostly been limited to South America and Australia. A fossil bone from the animal’s skeleton was first found by an Indo-German research team in Kutch in 2016, they suspected it to be a dinosaur. "But the bone was too long and later the whole skeleton was unearthed. It’s the first Jurassic ichthyosaur found in India. The 5.5 metre-long skeleton is thought to belong to the Ophthalmosauridae family, which likely lived between 165 and 90 million years ago, when the arid Kutch was a sea. This also throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region of the former Gondwanaland and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic.

▼ Corals develop a preference for eating plastic!   [10-26-17]

Corals may have developed a preference for consuming plastic bits, putting them at risk of being choked by the indigestible materials, a study has found. Scientists have long known that marine animals mistakenly eat plastic debris because the tiny bits of floating plastic might look like prey. The study of plastic ingestion by corals by researchers from Duke University in the US suggests there may be an additional reason for the potentially harmful behaviour. Visual cues, such as a resemblance to prey, do not factor into the appeal because corals have no eyes, researchers said. Corals in the experiments ate all types of plastics but preferred unfouled microplastics by a threefold difference over microplastics covered in bacteria. This suggests the plastic itself contains something that makes it tasty. When plastic comes from the factory, it has hundreds of chemical additives on it. Any one of these chemicals or a combination of them could be acting as a stimulant that makes plastic appealing to corals. Further research will be needed to identify the specific additives that make the plastic so tasty to corals and determine if the same chemicals act as feeding stimulants to other marine species, researchers said. Microplastics: Know More

  • Microplastics, tiny pieces of weathered plastic less than five millimetres in diameter, began accumulating in the oceans four decades ago and are now ubiquitous in the marine environment.
  • They pose a major threat to foraging sea animals, including many species of birds, turtles, fish, marine mammals and invertebrates.
  • Since plastic is largely indigestible, it can lead to intestinal blockages, create a false sense of fullness or reduce energy reserves in animals that consume it.
  • About eight per cent of the plastic that coral polyps in the study ingested was still stuck in their guts after 24 hours.
  • The biological effects of most of these compounds are still unknown, but some, such as phthalates, are confirmed environmental oestrogens and androgens-hormones that affect sex determination.
  • The researchers hope their findings will encourage scientists to explore the role taste plays in determining why marine organisms ingest microplastics.

▼ Study finds alarming noise pollution levels in 7 Indian cities    [10-24-17]

A study which analysed data on noise levels in seven big cities of the country came to the conclusion that finding a quiet place in these cities is next to impossible. Data from 70 monitoring stations in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Lucknow was analysed for 2015. While 17 of the stations were in silence zones, 25 were located in commercial areas, 16 in residential areas and the remaining 12 in industrial areas. Interestingly, 10 of the 12 industrial sites met the ambient noise standard. On the other hand, none of the silence zones met the standard. The study was carried out by a group of researchers from CSIR-National Physical Laboratory, Delhi Technological University (DTU) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). It noted that monitoring stations in residential and commercial areas too did not meet the required standard during both day (6 am to 10 pm) and night-time (10 pm to 6 am). The decibel (dB) level in silence zones should not exceed 50 dB during day-time and 40 dB during night-time. But the study, published in ‘Current Science' showed that noise level at these sites varied from 56 dB to as high as 77 dB in the day and from 51 dB to 75 dB at night. Under the Motor Vehicle Rules, the noise range for horns has been fixed between 93 dB and 112 dB. Exposure to sound beyond 93 dB for eight hours can cause irreversible hearing loss It recommended various control measures such as appropriate land use planning and creating buffer zones for sensitive receptors. Installation of noise barriers for hospitals, schools, colleges and old age homes; enforcement of maximum decibel level of vehicles; establishment of no-honking zones especially for residential areas and silence zones and development of poro-elastic road surfaces for traffic noise control are some of the other measures which are recommended by the scientists in the study.

▼ India scores first rank in pollution related deaths!   [10-23-17]

India is ranked number one globally on the toll taken by pollution, with a staggering 2.51 million deaths in 2015, an international commission has reported. Of an estimated 9 million premature deaths linked to pollution worldwide, the country accounted for about 28%. Air pollution, the leading cause, killed 6.5 million people around the world. India and Bangladesh recorded the largest increases in pollution-related deaths among the 10 most populous countries for the year. The results of the study were published in the journal The Lancet. Nearly a quarter of all deaths in India in 2015 were attributed to pollution; Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, and Kenya too reported one in four deaths due to the same cause. Again, air pollution took the heaviest toll in India (1.81 million), followed by water (0.64 million). Ambient air pollution was the leading cause in the country, while deaths from household air polluted by solid fuels came a close second, at 0.97 million. Half a million deaths were caused by unsafe water sources, while unsafe sanitation was behind 0.32 million deaths. China had the second highest mortality from air pollution at 1.58 million, while water pollution in the neighbouring country was linked to about 34,000 deaths, compared with 0.64 million in India. Particulate matter pollution in the air was severe in several cities in India and China: average annual concentrations of PM 2.5 (particulates less than 2.5 microns in width) were greater than 100 microgrammes per cubic metre. More than half of all global deaths due to ambient air pollution occurred in India and China during the year of study, the report said. Diseases Due to Air Pollution: Know More

  • Deaths linked to air pollution were a result of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Pollution has been responsible for most non-communicable disease deaths, The Lancet said, pointing to industrialisation, urbanisation and globalisation as the drivers, and calling for remedial measures.
  • In 2015, all forms of pollution combined were responsible for 21% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease, 26% due to ischaemic heart disease, 23% due to stroke, 51% due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 43% due to lung cancer.
  • Pollution was also responsible for three times as many deaths as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
  • The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health is a two-year project that involved over 40 international health and environmental authors.

▼ Meet the Kanger valley house lizard!    [10-23-17]

Geckos or house lizards usually evoke in us varying degrees of disdain. But a team of scientists’ fascination for these reptiles led them to discover a new species from the Eastern Ghats. The Kanger valley rock gecko Hemidactylus kangerensis is the newest addition to India’s lizard species. According to a paper published in the taxonomic journal Comptes Rendus Biologies on Wednesday, researchers, led by Zeeshan Mirza of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, discovered the gecko from Chhattisgarh’s Kanger Ghati National Park. Though named after this park, the species is also found in Jagdalpur and Sukma in Chhattisgarh and in Khamman in the adjoining State of Telangana, which are part of the Eastern Ghats. Growing to over eight inches long, the adult Kanger valley rock gecko is fairly large. The researchers found them in abandoned houses in the national park and juveniles on termite mounds and tree trunks. Though several researchers and reptile buffs had spotted the species before, they had mistaken it for the commonly-found rock gecko which it resembles. The distinct black-bordered beige bands that the new species sports right from its neck to its tail tip and specific scales on its thighs (which are visible only on closer inspection) set the Kanger valley rock gecko apart from the commonly-found rock gecko. According to the researchers, the discovery highlights the need for dedicated surveys across the Eastern Ghats, where biodiversity has not been quantified too well. Most areas here also need protection from various anthropogenic pressures.

▼ Paris set to ban gas powered cars by 2030   [10-18-17]

In its latest initiative to reduce pollution, Paris City Hall is planning to ban gas-powered cars by 2030. The controversial move follows Mayor Anne Hidalgo's plan to ban all diesel cars from the city by 2024, when Paris will host the Summer Olympics. Parisians have planned the end of thermic vehicle use, and therefore of fossil energies, by 2030." Hidalgo has angered many Parisians with her efforts to make Paris a greener city, notably by adding cycling paths that have slowed vehicle traffic along the Seine River.

▼ Whales and dolphins brainier than humans!   [10-18-17]

Cetaceans - whales and dolphins - are among the brainiest of beings. In terms of sheer brain size, the sperm whale is top on Earth, with a brain six times larger than that of a human being. Now, scientists have identified key differences among cetaceans linked to brain size. A study of 90 cetacean species found that those with larger brains exhibit greater complexity in social structures as well as behaviours, with species like the killer whale and sperm whale leading the way. Dolphin and whale societies are at least as complex as what we have observed in primates. They are extremely playful, they learn from each other, have complex communication. One problem for understanding just how smart they are is how difficult it is to observe them and to understand their marine world. Therefore, we have only a glimpse of what they are capable of. The researchers created a comprehensive database of brain size, social structures and cultural behaviours across cetacean species. The group of species with the largest brain size relative to body size was the large whale-like dolphins such as the killer whale, the similar-looking false killer whale and the pilot whale. Killer whales have cultural food preferences, have matriarchs that lead and teach other group members, and cooperatively hunt. In terms of intra-species food preferences, certain killer whale populations, also known as orcas, prefer salmon whereas others prefer seals or other whales or sharks depending on their group’s culture. Other big-brained cetaceans also demonstrate sophisticated behaviours. Mother sperm whales organise babysitting duties using other members of their pod to protect their young while they hunt for food down deep. The distinctive vocalisations sperm whales use to communicate sometimes differ depending upon where they live, much like regional dialects in human language.

▼ What are waterwheel plants?   [10-18-17]

Researchers have found a large number of an endangered species known as waterwheel plants, in a wetland in China's Heilongjiang province. Researchers from the Qixinghe National Nature Reserve identified more than 5,000 waterwheel plants scattered in an area of over 600 sq.metres in the reserve during an observation tour between September 20 and 23. Waterwheel is a rootless and free-floating plant, like an aquatic Venus flytrap. It was under class one national protection in 1999 and listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Waterwheel plants have strict requirements for water, which needs to be shallow, warm and extremely clean. China has 577 nature reserves and 468 wetland parks. The push for preservation has gone as far as becoming part of the criteria for assessing local government officials in some regions. Waterwheel plants are found in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

▼ Mizoram's Dampa Tiger Reserve : Home to highest number of clouded leopards in SE Asia   [10-18-17]

Mizoram's Dampa Tiger Reserve now holds the distinction of housing the highest number of clouded leopards in Southeast Asia. The density of population of clouded leopards, locally known as 'Kelral', is 5.14 per 100 sq km in the reserve, situated along the Mizoram-Bangladesh-Tripura. The area of the reserve is around 80 sq km, the release said, adding, the density of population of marbled cats, also known as 'Sanghar', is 5.03 per 100 sq km. The state's environment, forests and climate change department placed several camera traps at different places across the Dampa Tiger Reserve, which captured the clouded leopards 84 times and the marbled cats 36 times.

▼ Are these three marine species extinct?   [10-12-17]

Are these three marine species extinct? Three marine species, the Pondicherry Shark, the Red Sea Torpedo and the Tentacled Butterfly Ray might have become possibly extinct in the oceanic waters of the Arabian Seas Region (ASR) since no evidence of its existence has surfaced in the last three decades. Scientists are also worried about the possible disappearance of other species from the region even before they were known to science. The first ever assessment of the conservation status of sharks, rays, and chimaeras (collectively called chondrichthyans) in the region has left the scientists grim-faced as 78 of the 153 species revived were found fighting for survival. The Guitar fish found in coastal waters of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Ganges Shark found in Arabian Sea were classified as Critically Endangered, among others. The extinction risk and conservation status of all chondrichthyans naturally reproducing in the region were reviewed by the IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group. Though 184 species of sharks, rays, and chimaeras occur in the region, only the confirmed 153 species were considered for the analysis. The ASR covers the waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Sea of Oman, and the Gulf. The region is also bordered by 20 countries including India, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel and Pakistan. The assessment also revealed that 27 species were near threatened and 19 others were of least conservation concerns. It was also known that less was known about 29 to evaluate their risk of extinction. By-catch was found to be the biggest threat to the majority of chondrichthyan fishes besides the “pressure from artisanal and industrial fisheries.” The assessors were of the view that the increasing decline in the extent and quality of habitat as a result of coastal development and other anthropogenic disturbances, particularly for those critical habitats that many species depend on coral reefs, mangroves, sea grasses pose a serious threat to the survival of many species. India, which banned the exploitation and trade of 10 species of sharks and rays, had in 2015 banned the export and import of shark fins of all species.

▼ Flip flops made of algae!   [10-11-17]

Scientists have developed algae-based, renewable flip-flops that could be an environment friendly alternative to petroleum-based slippers-the go-to footwear in countries like India and China. Three billion petroleum-based flip-flops are produced worldwide each year, eventually ending up as non-biodegradable trash in landfills, rivers and oceans around the globe. These are the shoes of a fisherman and a farmer. This is the number one footwear in India, China and in Africa. One of the largest pollutants in the ocean is polyurethane from flip-flops and other shoes that have been washed or thrown into rivers and flow into the ocean. The flip flops consist of a flexible, spongy slipper and a simple strap. Petroleum comes from algae that lived in the ancient oceans hundreds of millions of years ago. A lot of people do not know that. But what that means is that anything we can make from petroleum we can ultimately make from algae. The flip-flops, shoe soles and other polyurethane products scientists make from living algae oil are "sustainable" because the carbon to construct them was pulled from the atmosphere, rather than underground oil reserves. Scientists are seeking to also make them "biodegradable," by chemically converting the algae oil into polyurethane in manner that will allow the carbon bonds to be degraded by microorganisms.

▼ 8 Namami Gange projects approved   [10-10-17]

National Mission for Clean Ganga has approved eight projects worth INR 700 crore, out of which four pertain to sewage management in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, three are related to treatment of drains through bio-remediation and one of inventorisation and surveillance of river Ganga. On sewage management front, a project for pollution abatement in river Ganga at Bally in West Bengal has been approved at an estimated cost of INR 200.07 crore that would include construction of a 40 MLD STP under Hybrid Annuity based PPP model among other works. Similarly, construction of a 65 MLD STP under Hybrid Annuity model has been approved for Bhagalpur in Bihar at an estimated project cost of INR 268.49 crore. In Uttar Pradesh, sewage treatment related works at an estimated cost of INR 213.62 crore have also been approved that includes construction of two STPs (28 MLD + 05 MLD) in Farrukabad and one 2 MLD STP at Bargadiya drain in Fatehpur. Pollution abatement works for river Ganga like interception, diversion and treatment of sewage in Bithoor have also been approved at an estimated cost of INR 13.40 crore. Three projects of treatment of drains using bio-remediation technology have also been given a green signal at an estimated cost of INR 4.29 crore. These are for Rajapur drain and Digha drain in Patna and Laksar drain in Haridwar. One project for pollution inventorization, assessment and surveillance on river Ganga has also been approved at an estimated cost of INR 42.9 crore. Continuation of an ongoing exercise, the project aims to strengthen environmental regulation and water quality monitoring vis-à-vis river Ganga.

▼ New species of balsam discovered in Arunachal Pradesh, takes total discovery to 6 in 2017   [10-9-17]

In August 2017, a research paper describing Impatiens walongensis, a new species of balsam, was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Phytotaxa. The species was discovered from Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjaw district, one of India’s easternmost. About a meter tall with ovate elliptical leaves and light pink flowers, the plant was named after Walong, the locality where it was found. Impatiens walongensis is the latest but not the only new discovery of balsam in Arunachal Pradesh. In 2017 alone, scientists discovered and published their findings on five other new species of balsam, taking the total number of balsam species discovered this year to six. Impatiens arunachalensis, which bears purple flowers and a pink throat, was discovered from the Upper Siang district. Since only 50 plants of the species were found at a particular location, scientists described the conservation status of the plant as critically endangered. Another species, Impatiens zironiana, with lanceolate pale yellow floral buds flowering and fruiting in the rainy season from July to September, was discovered from the Lower Subansiri district. Two more species of balsam, Impatiens rugosipetala from the State’s Lower Dibang valley, and Impatiens tatoensis from the West Siang district, were also discovered and described earlier this year. Three new species of balsam were discovered from Arunachal Pradesh in 2016, and five [were discovered] in 2015. Since 2013, at least 16 new species of plants under the genus Impatiens, commonly referred to as balsam, have been discovered from Arunachal Pradesh. Botanists have found 55 species of balsam from the northeastern State, 16 of which are new discoveries to science. Balsam: Know More

  • Known for their starkly differing flower shapes, which are produced along the stem with vivid colours like pink, red, white, purple and yellow, balsams grow in rich moist soil.
  • Across the world, about 1,000 species of these angiosperms or closed seeded plants are known to occur.
  • In India, about 210 balsam species were known till these new discoveries from Arunachal Pradesh emerged. Now, the number of balsam species has increased to 230.
  • What makes the Impatiens interesting is the high endemism among these plants.
  • In most cases, while collecting the specimens, only a handful of plants are spotted.
  • Since these plants have a very small habitat, they face a threat from the fast-changing landscape of the region.
  • Balsams have immense horticultural importance.
  • Studies on hybrids of the plants have been undertaken in parts of the country to produce flowers that can sustain in different environmental conditions.
  • Different hybrids can be created from wild balsam species, so it is important to know the actual number of balsam species in the wild.

▼ New Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad to protect aquatic biodiversity   [10-5-17]

In order to protect the rich aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga from escalating anthropogenic pressures, development of a Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad along with a River Biodiversity Park at Sangam have been approved under Namami Gange programme. The project at an estimated cost of INR 1.34 crore would include development of River Biodiversity Park at Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati), establishment of a Turtle Rearing Centre (Permanent nursery at Triveni Pushp and makeshift annual hatcheries) and awareness about the importance of river Ganga and imperativeness of its conservation has been approved. This project will provide much needed platform to make the visitors aware of their place in the ecosystem, their roles and responsibilities, improve their understanding of the complexity of co-existence with the environment and help generate awareness for reducing the impact of human activities on critical natural resources. The task of dissipating knowledge about river Ganga will be taken up ardently in this project, which is 100% centrally funded. River Ganga's Diversity: Know More

  • The sustenance of more than 2000 aquatic species including threatened gharials, dolphins and turtles in river Ganga exemplifies the rich biodiversity of this lifeline to over 40 per cent of the country’s population.
  • Rivers Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad are home to some of the most endangered fauna like turtles (Batagur kachuga, Batagur dhongoka, Nilssonia gangetica, Chitra indica, Hardella thurjii etc.), the National Aquatic Animal - Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica), the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and numerous migratory and resident birds.

▼ Summer monsoon declines, extreme rain on the rise in Central India   [10-4-17]

There has been an average 10% decline in summer monsoon (June to September) rainfall over central India between 1950 and 2015 as a result of weakening of the summer monsoon winds. However, the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall (more than 150 mm per day for two-three days covering an area of 250 by 250 km) events during the same period over central India (from Gujarat in the west to Odisha and Assam in the east) has been on the rise. There has been a three-fold increase in widespread extreme events over central India during 1950-2015. In the 1950s, there were two extreme rainfall events per year, while in recent years the number of events has increased to six per year. Models suggest further increase in extreme events over most parts of the Indian subcontinent by the end of the century. The weakening of the monsoon winds has resulted in less supply of moisture to the Indian subcontinent. The warm ocean temperatures in the northern Arabian Sea result in large fluctuations in the monsoon winds leading to occasional surges of increased moisture transport. These sudden surges of the monsoon winds bring in plenty of moisture and that is what is causing extreme rainfall events across the central Indian belt. While the central Indian Ocean has warmed up, the Indian peninsular region has not warmed up compared to other regions in the tropics leading to reduced land-sea temperature difference. Probably the cooling caused by aerosol and the reduced land-sea temperature difference in recent years is what is causing the weakening of the monsoon winds and decline in monsoon rainfall. At the same time, the northern Arabian Sea is becoming increasingly warm leading to more moist air over the Arabian Sea. In addition, the northern Arabian Sea gets warmer (1-2 degrees C) 2-3 weeks prior to extreme events. As a result, there is 20-40% more evaporation and increased moisture levels over the Arabian Sea before an extreme event. This gets transported over central India resulting in extreme rainfall events. “The Arabian Sea supplies more moisture to the extreme rainfall events than the Bay of Bengal and the central Indian Ocean combined. The study found that the Arabian Sea contributes 36% of the total moisture to central India, while the Bay of Bengal’s is 26% and the Indian Ocean’s is 9%. Interestingly, land evotranspiration contributes 29% moisture, which is much more than even the Bay of Bengal. Moisture from land evotranspiration is often neglected in monsoon studies.

▼ Global Wildlife Programme stresses modern technology to combat poaching   [10-4-17]

Inaugurating the Global Wildlife Programme here today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised that modern technology must be used to counter poachers and wildlife crimes. He pointed out that the effort has always been to resolve all issues related to wildlife in a harmonious manner. The Minister said that India has the largest participation of people living in the forests towards conservation efforts. Two documents – India’s National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) for the period 2017-2031 and Secure Himalaya were released on the occasion. The Plan focuses on preservation of genetic diversity and sustainable development. The NWAP has five components, 17 themes, 103 conservation actions and 250 projects. The five components are – strengthening and promoting the integrated management of wildlife and their habitats; adaptation to climate change and promoting integrated sustainable management of aquatic biodiversity in India; promoting eco-tourism, nature education and participatory management; strengthening wildlife research and monitoring of development of human resources in wildlife conservation and enabling policies and resources for conservation of wildlife in India. The Plan will help to mainstream wildlife conservation in development planning processes. The Minister also launched the India Wildlife Mobile App to mark the occasion. Conference will provide a platform to build strategic partnerships between all the 19 nations and enable India to strengthen its enforcement mechanism to control wildlife trafficking. The nations will learn from each other on strengthening peoples’ participation. The Environment Secretary emphasised that some new action issues have been considered in the Third National Wildlife Action Plan. These issues include – climate change and wildlife, wildlife health, inland, coastal and marine conservation and wildlife conflict mitigation. Some of the issues that will be discussed during the Conference are – leveraging partnerships to promote shared benefits on public-private partnerships and opportunities in wildlife-based tourism that help promote wildlife conservation; inclusive growth infrastructure for wildlife conservation and ways to mitigate impacts of infrastructure in wildlife and innovative approaches to engage people in wildlife conservation.

▼ Wetlands Conservation and Management Rules 2017: Know more   [10-3-17]

The Centre on September 26 notified a new set of rules under the head Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 replacing the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. One of the outstanding rules of the notification is that encroachments on wetlands stand banned. The rules prohibit solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated waste and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages, and other human settlements into wetlands. The new notification is expected to appreciably benefit the State government’s Haritha Keralam Mission to conserve and protect wetlands. There is considerable scope for the new rules to complement the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, 2003, say environmentalists. The draft rules had largely sought to dilute the Centre’s onus for wetland conservation and pass that responsibility to the State governments. The environmentalists had also felt that the draft had watered down priority to wetland conservation under the label of balancing development and environmental concerns.