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Daily Category  (Environment)

India to expand research, tourism in Arctic

CONTEXT:

India has unveiled a new draft ‘Arctic’ policy that, among other things, commits to expanding

  • Scientific research,
  • Sustainable tourism and
  • Mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.

                               Arctic Council: Members, Benefits & Concerns for India - IAS EXPRESS

NEW DRAFT ‘ARCTIC’ POLICY:

Open to public comments: The draft policy is open to public comments until January 26 and has been prepared after deliberations among several ministries.

National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research: India expects the Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research to lead scientific research and act as a nodal body to coordinate among various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities by expanding in Indian Universities

  • Earth sciences,
  • Biological sciences,
  • Geosciences,
  • Climate change and
  • Space related programmes,
  • Dove-tailed with arctic imperatives.

Other objectives of the policy: It includes programmes for mineral/oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes and encouraging tourism and hospitality sectors in building specialised capacities and awareness to engage with Arctic enterprises.”

Impact of Arctic on Climate and Seasons: However, climate change has meant that seasons in the Arctic influence tropical weather.

  • The Arctic influences
    • Atmospheric,
    • Oceanographic and
    • Biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.

Spill over effect of Global Warming/Arctic Melting: The loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean and atmosphere would

  • Lower salinity in the ocean,
  • Increase the temperature differential between land and oceans in the tropical regions, dry subtropical areas and
  • Increase precipitation at higher latitudes.

Use of Arctic Study for India: It will help in study melting rates of the third pole — the Himalayan glaciers, which are endowed with the one of largest freshwater reserves in the world.

INDIA’S SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION TO THE ARCTIC:

  • It began in 2007 and set up a research station ‘Himadri’ in the international Arctic research base at  Svalbard, Norway.
    • Himadri is manned for about 180 days a year.
  • Two other observatories: in Kongsforden and Gruvebadet.
  • Since its establishment, over 300 Indian researchers have worked in the station. India has sent 13 expeditions to the Arctic since 2007 and runs 23 active projects.

THE ARCTIC:

Five Arctic littoral states — Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia and the USA (Alaska) —

Arctic Council:

  • 8 Members: Five Arctic littoral states and three other Arctic nations — Finland, Sweden and Iceland — form the Arctic Council.
  • 1996 – Ottawa declaration
  • It is an Intergovernmental forum.
  • It is Not a treaty-based international organization but rather an international forum that operates on the basis of consensus.
  • Its mandate explicitly excludes military security.

The Arctic is home to almost four million inhabitants, of which approximately one-tenth are considered as indigenous people.

Source: The Hindu

2020 among the three warmest years recorded on Earth-WMO

CONTEXT:

According to a statement released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 2020 is among the three warmest years ever recorded on Earth.

In December, the global organisation had declared 2011-2020 as the warmest ever decade, with the warming trend noticed with each passing decade since the 1980s.

NEWS IN DETAILS:

Average global temperature: Last year, the average global temperature recorded was 14.9 degrees Celsius, which was 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level (1850-1900).

Warmest ever year: The warmest ever years recorded are 2016, 2019 and 2020, the WMO stated.

Warmest Year in India: In India, too, 2020 remained the eighth warmest year recorded since 1901, when the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had started maintaining temperature records.

  • The annual mean land surface air temperature over India last year was 0.29 degree Celsius.

Prevalence of the La Nina: This is a unique development, meteorologists said, as the year reported the prevalence of the La Nina weather pattern.

  • La Nina: This is an oceanic phenomenon when cooler than normal sea surface temperatures are recorded along the central and equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean, which in turn affects global average temperatures.
  • The current cycle of La Nina is expected to continue till mid-2021.
  • The exceptional heat of 2020 is despite a La Nina event, which is a temporary cooling effect.

Paris Climate Agreement:

  • Global average temperatures need to be controlled well below two degrees Celsius of the pre-industrial era.
  • However, with the growing evidence, the latest incidence being in 2020, the task before all the countries remains an exceptionally humongous one.
  • The presence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is one of the major reasons for global warming.
  • According to the WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, there is a one-in-five chance that by 2024, this temperature will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Source: Indian Express

Dzukou Valley wildfire doused

CONTEXT:

The two-week long forest fire in Dzukou valley on Nagaland-Manipur border has been doused and no fresh fire or smoke was visible on Monday, the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) said.

                                     Dzukou Valley Fire Doused After 2 Weeks Of Air Force, NDRF Operations

DZUKOU VALLEY WILDFIRE:

The wildfire broke out in the Dzukou Valley under Kohima district in southern Nagaland on December 29 and crossed over to the northern Manipur side, forcing both the state governments to request the NDRF and the army to help contain the wildfire.

According to the officials, the inferno has destroyed much of the forest areas, seasonal flowers, flora and fauna and harmed the rich biodiversity of the valley, which is also a famous trekking site.

NSDMA said it will assess the damage caused to the forest, environment and other flora and fauna in Dzukou valley.

The Manipur government will also conduct similar exercise at their end of the Dzukou range.

Forces involved: The Indian Air force, the NDRF and other central forces who were involved in the operations to douse the fire.

ABOUT DZUKOU VALLEY:

Dzukou valley  is also a sanctuary for the endangered Blyth's tragopan - Nagaland's state bird - and other species of birds and animals.

Rare Dzükou Lily is found only in this valley.

This valley is ‘Valley of flowers’ of the Nagaland State.

The Asian Highway 1 and also the NH-2 passes through its foothills.

Often caught in a boundary dispute between Manipur and Nagaland, it has been prone to wildfires.

Source: The Hindu

Tirthan Sanctuary, Great Himalayan National Park best performers among protected areas

CONTEXT:

India has a network of 903 Protected Areas covering about 5 per cent of its total geographic area of the country.

According to the survey, Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary and Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh have performed the best among the surveyed protected areas.