Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Odisha’s Mo Bus: Recipient of the UN’s prestigious public service award

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green mobility

Mains level : NA

Mo Bus, the bus service of Odisha’s Capital Region Urban Transport (CRUT) authority, has been recognized by the United Nations as one of 10 global recipients of its annual Public Service Awards for 2022.

Mo Bus service

  • The Mo Bus service was launched on November 6, 2018.
  • It aimed to ensure transformation of the urban public transport scenario in the city and its hinterland through use of smart technology, service benchmarking and customer satisfaction.
  • The buses are designed to integrate smart technologies such as free on-board Wi-Fi service, digital announcements, surveillance cameras, and electronic ticketing.
  • CRUT says that to increase women’s participation in the workforce, and to make women riders feel safer, it is committed to ensuring that 50% of Mo Bus Guides (conductors) are women.

What is the recent award?

  • The public transport service has been recognised for its role in “promoting gender-responsive public services to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)”.
  • The “impact” is that 57 per cent of the city’s commuters now use the Mo Bus, the UN said.
  • Mo E-Ride is estimated to reduce pollution by 30-50 per cent.

About UN Public Service Award

  • The UN describes its Public Service Awards as the “most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service”.
  • The first Awards ceremony was held in 2003, and the UN has since received “an increasing number of submissions from all around the world”.
  • It is intended to reward the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.
  • Through an annual competition, the UN Public Service Awards promotes the role, professionalism and visibility of public service.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Explained: Occurrence of Lightning

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lightening and Thunderstorms

Mains level : Disaster management

At least 70 people died in lightning strikes across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

What is lightning?

  • Scientifically, lightning is a rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere some of which is directed towards earth.
  • The discharges are generated in giant moisture-bearing clouds that are 10-12 km tall.
  • The base of these clouds typically lie within 1-2 km of the Earth’s surface, while the top is 12-13 km away.
  • Temperatures in the top of these clouds are in the range of –35° to –45°C.

Its formation

  • As water vapour moves upward in the cloud, the falling temperature causes it to condense.
  • As they move to temperatures below 0°C, the water droplets change into small ice crystals.
  • They continue to move up, gathering mass until they are so heavy that they start to fall to Earth.
  • This leads to a system in which, simultaneously, smaller ice crystals are moving up and bigger crystals are coming down.
  • Collisions follow and trigger the release of electrons, a process that is very similar to the generation of sparks of electricity.
  • As the moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, a chain reaction ensues.
  • This process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged, while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • The electrical potential difference between the two layers is huge, of the order of a billion to 10 billion volts.
  • In very little time, a massive current, of the order of 100,000 to a million amperes, starts to flow between the layers.

Types of lightning

  • Broadly, there are three forms of lightning:
  1. Inter-cloud
  2. Intra-cloud
  3. Cloud-to-ground
  • It is the cloud-to-ground form of lightning that kills humans, as well as animals and livestock, and can substantially damage property.
  • While the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, it is electrically neutral.
  • However, in comparison to the middle layer of the cloud, it becomes positively charged.
  • As a result, about 15%-20% of the current gets directed towards the Earth as well.
  • It is this flow of current that results in damage to life and property on Earth.

How intensely does it strike?

  • A typical lightning flash is about 300 million volts and 30,000 amps.
  • To put it in perspective, household current is 120 volts and 15 amps.
  • A flash of lightning is enough to light a 100-watt incandescent bulb for about three months.

Why does lightning kill so many people in India?

  • The reason for the high number of deaths is due to people being caught unawares and more than 70% of fatalities happened due to people standing under isolated tall trees.
  • About 25 per cent of the people were struck in the open.
  • Also, lightning is the direct promulgation of climate change extremities.

Mitigating lightning incidents

  • Lightning is not classified as a natural disaster in India.
  • But recent efforts have resulted in the setting up of an early warning system that is already saving many lives.
  • More than 96% of lightning deaths happen in rural areas.
  • As such, most of the mitigation and public awareness programmes need to focus on these communities.
  • Lightning protection devices are fairly unsophisticated and low-cost. Yet, their deployment in the rural areas, as of now, is extremely low.
  • States are being encouraged to prepare and implement lightning action plans, on the lines of heat action plans.
  • An international centre for excellence on lightning research to boost detection and early warning systems is also in the process of being set up.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

How Marine Heatwave fuelled super cyclone Amphan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Marine Heatwaves

Mains level : Climate Change

The super-cyclone Amphan is said to have been triggered by Marine Heatwaves.

What is the news?

  • A study has found the presence of a strong MHW beneath the track of the cyclone with an extremely high anomalous sea surface temperature of more than 2.5°C.
  • This coincided with the cyclone track and facilitated its rapid intensification in a short period.

What are Marine Heatwaves?

  • We know that heatwaves occur in the atmosphere. We are all familiar with these extended periods of excessively hot weather.
  • However, heatwaves can also occur in the ocean and these are known as marine heatwaves, or MHWs.
  • These marine heatwaves, when ocean temperatures are extremely warm for an extended period of time can have significant impacts on marine ecosystems and industries.

When do they occur?

  • Heatwaves can happen in summer and also in winter, where they are known as “winter warm-spells”.
  • These winter events can have important impacts, such as in the southeast of Australia where the spiny sea urchin can only colonize further south when winter temperatures are above 12 °C.

What causes marine heatwaves?

  • Marine heatwaves can be caused by a whole range of factors, and not all factors are important for each event.
  • The most common drivers of marine heatwaves include ocean currents which can build up areas of warm water and air-sea heat flux, or warming through the ocean surface from the atmosphere.
  • Winds can enhance or suppress the warming in a marine heatwave, and climate modes like El Niño can change the likelihood of events occurring in certain regions.
  • MHWs can be caused due to large-scale drivers of the Earth’s climate like the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Impacts of the MHWs

  • Marine heatwaves affect ecosystem structure, by supporting certain species and suppressing others.
  • For example, after the 2011 marine heatwave in Western Australia, the fish communities had a much more “tropical” nature than previously and switched from kelp forests to seaweed turfs.
  • Marine heatwaves can cause economic losses through impacts on fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Temperature-sensitive species such as corals are especially vulnerable to MHWs. In 2016, marine heatwaves across northern Australia led to severe bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

How do we measure marine heatwaves?

  • A marine heatwave occurs when seawater temperatures exceed a seasonally-varying threshold (usually the 90th percentile) for at least 5 consecutive days.
  • Successive heatwaves with gaps of 2 days or less are considered part of the same event.

Why study MHWs?

  • MHWs are increasing in frequency due to climate change. MHWs increased by 54 per cent in the last 30 years.
  • MHW has severe socio-economic consequences such as fish mortality, and coral bleaching, and also has the potential to interact and modify other extreme events such as tropical cyclones.

Way Forward

  • Marine heatwaves clearly have the potential to devastate marine ecosystems and cause economic losses in fisheries, aquaculture, and ecotourism industries.
  • However, their effects are often hidden from view under the waves until it is too late.
  • By raising general awareness of these phenomena, and by improving our scientific understanding of their physical properties and ecological impacts, we can better predict future conditions and protect vulnerable marine habitats and resources.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Theri Desert in Tamil Nadu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Theri Desert in Tamil Nadu

Mains level : Desertification of land and preventive measures

Most of us may not know the small desert situated in the state of Tamil Nadu. It consists of red sand dunes and is confined to the Thoothukudi district.

Theri Desert

  • The red dunes are called theri in Tamil.
  • They consist of sediments dating back to the Quaternary Period and are made of marine deposits.
  • They have very low water and nutrient retention capacity.
  • The dunes are susceptible to aerodynamic lift.
  • This is the push that lets something move up. It is the force that is the opposite of weight.

Mineral composition of Theris

  • The analysis of the red sand dunes reveal the presence of heavy and light minerals.
  • These include Ilmenite, Magnetit, Rutile, Garnet, Zircon, Diopside, Tourmaline, Hematite, Goethite, Kyanite, Quartz, Feldspar, Biotite.
  • The iron-rich heavy minerals like ilmenite, magnetite, garnet, hypersthene and rutile present in the soil had undergone leaching by surface water.
  • They were then oxidised because of the favourable semi-arid climatic conditions.

How did they form?

  • Theris appear as gentle, undulating terrain.
  • The lithology of the area shows that the area might have been a paleo (ancient) coast in the past.
  • The presence of limestone in many places indicates marine transgression.
  • The present-day theris might have been formed by the confinement of beach sand locally, after regression of the sea.
  • When high velocity winds from the Western Ghats blew east, they induced migration of sand grains and accumulation of dunes.

Another story of their formation

  • Another view is that these are geological formations that appeared in a period of a few hundred years.
  • The red sand is brought from the surface of a broad belt of red loam in the plains of the Nanguneri region (about 57 kilometres) by south west monsoon winds during May-September.
  • The winds after draining the moisture behind the Mahendragiri hill and the Aralvaimozhi gap of the Western Ghats become dry and strike the plains in the foothills, where vegetation is sparse.
  • Deforestation and the absence of vegetative cover in the Aralvaimozhi gap and the Nanguneri plains are considered to be the major causes of wind erosion.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Environmental Performance Index (EPI), 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Environmental Performance Index

Mains level : Western anti-India lobby

India has objected to a report, called the EPI, 2022, that places the country last (along with Nigeria) on a list of 180 countries on managing climate change, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality.

Environmental Performance Index

  • The report is prepared by researchers at the Yale and Columbia universities.
  • It provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world.
  • Using 40 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, the EPI ranks 180 countries on climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality.
  • These indicators provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy targets.
  • The EPI offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance and provides practical guidance for countries that aspire to move toward a sustainable future.

Why the report is inherently biased?

  • The US placed itself at the 20th spot of the 22 wealthy democracies in the global west and 43rd overall.
  • The relatively low ranking has put all blame on the rollback policies during the Trump administration.
  • It goes on to preach that developing countries do not have to sacrifice sustainability for economic security.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India’s Vulnerability to Drought

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Drought

Mains level : Read the attached story

A United Nations report ‘Drought in Numbers’ has revealed that many parts of India fall under the list of regions that are vulnerable to drought globally.

What are Droughts?

  • Drought is a prolonged dry period in the natural climate cycle that can occur anywhere in the world.
  • It is a slow-onset disaster characterized by the lack of precipitation, resulting in a water shortage.

Types of Droughts

  • Meteorological drought is defined usually on the basis of the degree of dryness (in comparison to some “normal” or average amount) and the duration of the dry period.
  • Agricultural drought should be able to account for the variable susceptibility of crops during different stages of crop development, from emergence to maturity.
  • Hydrological drought is associated with the effects of periods of precipitation (including snowfall) shortfalls on surface or subsurface water supply (i.e. streamflow, reservoir and lake levels, and groundwater).
  • Socioeconomic drought is associated with the supply and demand of some economic goods with elements of meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural drought.

What is the Drought in Numbers report?

  • The Drought in Numbers report is a collection of data on the effects of droughts on our ecosystem and how they can be mitigated through efficient planning for the future.
  • The report also helps inform negotiations surrounding key decisions by the UNCCD’s 197 member parties at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15), currently underway in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Drought, land restoration, and related aspects such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment are among the top considerations at COP15.

What is COP15?

  • The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) COP15 focuses on desertification, land degradation, and drought.
  • The theme for the conference is “Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity.”
  • The conference has brought together government representatives, private sector members, and civil society stakeholders to ensure that land continues to benefit present and future generations.

What does the report entail?

  • The number and duration of droughts around the world has increased by an alarming 29% since 2000.
  • Globally, droughts in the same period caused economic losses of approximately $124 billion.
  • Drought conditions can force up to 216 million people to migrate by 2050.
  • Other factors at play along with drought could be water scarcity, declining crop productivity, rise in sea levels, and overpopulation.
  • The report also stated that India’s GDP reduced by 2 to 5% between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts in the country.

Gendered impacts of drought

  • Research shows that women and girls in emerging and developing countries suffer more in terms of education levels, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety as a result of droughts.
  • The burden of water collection also disproportionately falls on women (72%) and girls (9%).
  • The report notes that they may spend up to 40% of their caloric intake fetching water.

What are the environmental aspects?

  • The largest increase in drought losses is projected in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions of Europe.
  • Australia’s megadrought in 2019-2020 contributed to “megafires” resulting in one of the most extensive losses of habitat for threatened species.
  • About three billion animals were killed or displaced in the Australian wildfires.
  • Around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year due to drought and desertification.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What are Urban Heat Islands?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Urban Heat Islands

Mains level : Read the attached story

Several parts of the country are reeling under heat wave conditions. Cities, especially, are a lot hotter than rural areas. This is due to a phenomenon called an “urban heat island”.

Urban Heat Island

  • An urban heat island is a local and temporary phenomenon experienced when certain pockets within a city experience higher heat load than surrounding or neighbouring areas on the same day.
  • The variations are mainly due to heat remaining trapped within locations that often resemble concrete jungles.
  • The temperature variation can range between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius.

Why are cities hotter than rural areas?

  • Green cover: Rural areas have relatively larger green cover in the form of plantations, farmlands, forests and trees as compared to urban spaces.
  • Transpiration: Transpiration is a natural way of heat regulation. This is the scientific process of roots absorbing water from the soil, storing it in the leaves and stems of plants, before processing it and releasing it in the form of water vapour.
  • Heat-regulation: Urban areas are often developed with high-rise buildings, roads, parking spaces, pavements and transit routes for public transport. As a result, heat regulation is either completely absent or man-made.
  • Construction: Cities usually have buildings constructed with glass, bricks, cement and concrete all of which are dark-coloured materials, meaning they attract and absorb higher heat content.

This forms temporary islands within cities where the heat remains trapped.

How can urban heat islands be reduced?

  • The main way to cut heat load within urban areas is increasing the green cover; filling open spaces with trees and plants.
  • Other ways of heat mitigation include appropriate choice of construction materials, promoting terrace and kitchen gardens, and painting white or light colours on terraces wherever possible to reflect heat.

What has NASA said on urban heat islands in India?

  • NASA recently pointed out heat islands in urban parts of Delhi, where temperatures were far higher than nearby agricultural lands.
  • It used its Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment (Ecostress) on the International Space Station.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Is La Nina a fair weather friend of our country?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : El-Nino, La-Nina

Mains level : ENSO impact on Indian Monsson

This year the La Nina is being blamed for worsening the longest spell of heatwaves from March to April in north, west and Central India.

In most years, meteorologists considered the La Nina to be a friend of India.

What is El Nino and La Nina?

  • While El Niño (Spanish for ‘little boy’), the more common expression, is the abnormal surface warming observed along the eastern and central regions of the Pacific Ocean (the region between Peru and Papua New Guinea).
  • The La Niña (Spanish for ‘little girl’) is an abnormal cooling of these surface waters.
  • Together, the El Niño (Warm Phase) and La Niña (Cool Phase) phenomena are termed as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
  • These are large-scale ocean phenomena which influence the global weather — winds, temperature and rainfall. They have the ability to trigger extreme weather events like droughts, floods, hot and cold conditions, globally.
  • Each cycle can last anywhere between 9 to 12 months, at times extendable to 18 months — and re-occur after every three to five years.
  • Meteorologists record the sea surface temperatures for four different regions, known as Niño regions, along this equatorial belt.
  • Depending on the temperatures, they forecast either as an El Niño, an ENSO neutral phase, or a La Niña.

Impact on India

  • El Nino during winter causes warm conditions over the Indian subcontinent and during summer, it leads to dry conditions and deficient monsoon.
  • Whereas La Nina results in better than normal monsoon in India.
  • It has been established that Indian summer monsoon is a fully coupled land-atmosphere-ocean system and that it is linked to ocean temperature variability.
  • In an agricultural country like India, the extreme departure from normal seasonal rainfall seriously affects the agricultural output and thus the economy of the country.

Try this PYQ:

La Nina is suspected to have caused recent floods in Australia. How is La Nina different from El Nino?

  1. La Nina is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperature in equatorial Indian Ocean whereas El Nino is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  2. El Nino has an adverse effect on south-west monsoon of India, but La Nina has no effect on monsoon climate.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) Only 1

(b) Only 2

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
4
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India must use markets to decarbonise

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : World Energy Outlook Report

Mains level : Paper 3- Carbon tax

Context

Climate change is bound to impact human lives and the global economy at an exceptionally high scale in the not-so-distant future. The solution to the problem calls for government intervention.

Carbon intensive nature of India’s energy ecosystem

  • After China and the United States, India, which releases 2.44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, is the third-largest emitter of this GHG, making it a key player in emissions reduction.
  •  The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2017 Report estimates that India will account for nearly one-fourth of the global energy demand by 2040.
  • As per the IEA’s India Energy Outlook 2021 Report, India’s energy system is highly dependent on fossil fuels — coal, oil and bioenergy — that supply about 90 per cent of the country’s demand.
  • Low electrification: About 38 per cent of primary energy is consumed for power generation, implying that the level of electrification is still low in the country.
  • Power generation is highly dependent on coal — about 78 per cent of it comes from this fossil fuel — and, transportation is almost entirely dependent on oil.
  • The Indian energy ecosystem is, thus, highly carbon-intensive.

Climate change as a feature of market failure

  • Market failure due to climate change: Economic activities by consumers (driving or air-conditioning, for instance) and by producers (such as electricity generation and manufacturing) cause emissions, leading to pollution and global warming.
  • Negative externalities: These negative externalities, causing outcomes that are not efficient, are not reflected in the costs incurred by consumers or producers.
  • The true costs to the consumers, producers and society are not reflected in the market interactions.
  • This leads to an uncontrolled rise in emissions and also breeds apathy towards mitigation efforts.

Way forward

  • Government intervention: Achieving economic growth sustainably requires a strategy for reducing carbon emissions aggressively while also focusing on efficiency, equity, fairness and behavioural aspects.
  • The solution to the problem of market failure calls for government intervention.
  • Limits of emission: The most natural option of government intervention for reducing emissions is by fixing limits of emissions through regulation, taking into consideration the Nationally Determined Contribution targets set by the country under the Paris Agreement.
  • Experts have shown that the wrongly set emission levels could lead to cost-inefficient outcomes.
  • It makes it difficult for the regulator to obtain the information about each firm’s abatement-cost and damage-cost schedules in advance.
  • Therefore, setting emission targets and regulating emissions through command and control might be good only during the initial phase of the mitigation strategy.
  • Why Carbon tax is a better option? The carbon tax is a better option than regulating the pre-fixed levels of emissions.
  • The marginal cost of abatement rises as the firms keep on reducing the emissions further, and the firm will stop reducing emissions and choose to pay tax at the point when the cost of abatement becomes higher than the rate of tax.
  • This option will lead to near-efficient outcomes.
  •  The trading scheme will bring in higher efficiency as the price of certificates will be determined by allowing firms facing low and high abatement costs to compete in the free market as per their own abatement and damage cost schedules.
  •  The emissions trading scheme will determine the optimal and cost-efficient levels of emissions reduction by providing a choice to the firms to either mitigate or trade — the net effect of this will be a reduction in emissions.
  • The low abatement-cost firms will keep reducing emissions as they would profit by trading the certificates.
  • Equity in energy access: The issue of equity in energy access must be addressed by channelling the revenues generated from carbon pricing to households and firms impacted by the carbon trading and carbon tax — these could be through incentives or lump-sum transfers.

Conclusion

The socio-economic impact of decarbonising the economy and the way humans live would be crucial in setting our priorities. We have limited time and our resources are scarce.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What are Heatwaves?

India is gripped in the wrath of a long spell of heatwaves that too in the early month of April.

What is a Heatwave and when is it declared?

  • Heatwaves occur over India between March and June.
  • IMD declares a heatwave event when the maximum (day) temperature for a location in the plains crosses 40 degrees Celsius.
  • Over the hills, the threshold temperature is 30 degrees Celsius.

How are they formed?

  • Heatwaves form when high pressure aloft (3,000–7,600 metres) strengthens and remains over a region for several days up to several weeks.
  • This is common in summer (in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres) as the jet stream ‘follows the sun’.
  • On the equator side of the jet stream, in the upper layers of the atmosphere, is the high pressure area.
  • Summertime weather patterns are generally slower to change than in winter. As a result, this upper level high pressure also moves slowly.
  • Under high pressure, the air subsides (sinks) toward the surface, warming and drying adiabatically, inhibiting convection and preventing the formation of clouds.
  • Reduction of clouds increases shortwave radiation reaching the surface.
  • A low pressure at the surface leads to surface wind from lower latitudes that brings warm air, enhancing the warming.
  • Alternatively, the surface winds could blow from the hot continental interior towards the coastal zone, leading to heat waves.

Following criteria are used to declare heatwave:

To declare heatwave, the below criteria should be met at least in 2 stations in a Meteorological subdivision for at least two consecutive days and it will be declared on the second day.

  1. a) Based on Departure from Normal
  • Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 4.5°C to 6.4°C
  • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is >6.4°C
  1. b) Based on Actual Maximum Temperature (for plains only)
  • Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥ 45°C
  • Severe Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥47°C

How long can a heatwave spell last?

  • A heatwave spell generally lasts for a minimum of four days. On some occasions, it can extend up to seven or ten days.
  • The longest recorded heatwave spell, in recent years, was between 18 and 31 May 2015.

Impact of Heat Waves:

Heat Strokes: The very high temperatures or humid conditions pose an elevated risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Older people and people with chronic illness such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes are more susceptible to heatstroke, as the body’s ability to regulate heat deteriorates with age.

Increased Healthcare Costs: Effects from extreme heat are also associated with increased hospitalisations and emergency room visits, increased deaths from cardio-respiratory and other diseases, mental health issues, adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, etc.

Lessens Workers’ Productivity: Extreme heat also lessens worker productivity, especially among the more than 1 billion workers who are exposed to high heat on a regular basis. These workers often report reduced work output due to heat stress.

Risk of Wildfires: The heat domes act as fuel to wildfires, which destroys a lot of land area every year in countries like the US.

Prevents Cloud Formation: The condition also prevents clouds from forming, allowing for more radiation from the sun to hit the ground.

Effect on Vegetation: The trapping of heat can also damage crops, dry out vegetation and result in droughts.

Increased Energy Demands: The sweltering heat wave also leads to rise in energy demand, especially electricity, leading to pushing up rates.

Power Related Issues: Heat waves are often high mortality disasters.

Avoiding heat-related disasters depends on the resilience of the electrical grid, which can fail if electricity demand due to air conditioning use exceeds supply.

As a result, there is the double risk of infrastructure failure and health impacts.

  • Initiatives Taken:
    • Global:
      • Global forums dealing with climate change issues—such as the World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, First Global Forum on Heat and Health, and the Global Forum for Environment-OECD—also focus on heat waves by investing in research on health risks of extreme heat, climate and weather information, advice on surviving heat waves, partnerships and capacity building, and communications and outreach.
    • Indian:
      • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued guidelines on dealing with heatwaves.
        • However, India does not recognise heatwaves as a disasterunder its Disaster Management Act (2005).

Way Forward

  • Adopting A More Sensitive Approach: The impact of such excessive heat needs to be understood from the point of view of common people — daily labourers; farmers; traders; fishermen etc.
    • Beyond numbers and graphs that capture the impact of the climate crisis, the human experience of living in oppressive heat needs to be understood by policymakers and measures should be taken accordingly.
  • Cooling Shelters: The government should come out with a policy to deal with the suffering and disability caused by heat extremes in different parts of the country.
    • Water kiosks, staggered outdoor work hours, cool roofs for buildings and homes are certain things that should be put in place immediately.
    • A number of emergency cooling shelters can be opened so that people without domestic air conditioning units can escape the heat.
      • Portable air-conditioning units, along with fans and even ice are also useful.
  • Passive Cooling to Reduce Urban Heat Islands: Passive cooling technology, a widely-used strategy to create naturally ventilated buildings, can be a vital alternative to address the urban heat island for residential and commercial buildings.
    • The IPCC report cites ancient Indian building designs that have used this technology, which could be adapted to modern facilities in the context of global warming.
  • Action Plans Similar to Ahmedabad: As per the IPCC Report, Ahmedabad has shown the way to combat heat extremes by heat-proofing buildings.
    • After the heat action plan was implemented in 2013 in Ahmedabad, heat-related mortality reduced by 30% to 40% over the years. Similar plans like that of Ahmedabad can be implemented in vulnerable regions.
  • Replacing Dark Roofs: A big reason that cities are so much hotter than rural areas is that they are covered by dark roofs, roads and parking lots that absorb and retain heat.
    • One of the long term solutions can be replacing the dark surfaces with lighter and more reflective materials; it will result in a comparatively cooler environment.

 

 

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Palli in Jammu becomes India’s First Carbon-Neutral Panchayat

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Carbon neutrality

Mains level : Not Much

Palli village in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir has become the first panchayat in the country to become carbon-neutral, fully powered by solar energy.

Various feats achieved

  • All its records have been digitised and the benefits of all the Central schemes are available in this village around 17 km from Jammu.
  • Palli village, with its enthusiastic and dedicated elected representatives full of dreams, has shown how to implement the Glasgow pledge (Panchamrita) made by PM Modi.
  • It has set an example of the slogan Sabka Prayas (everyone’s efforts).

What is Carbon Neutrality?

  • Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference.
  • This can be done by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal (often through carbon offsetting) or by eliminating emissions from society.
  •  It is used in the context of carbon dioxide-releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, agriculture, and industry.
  •  The term carbon neutral also includes other greenhouse gases, usually carbon-based, measured in terms of their carbon dioxide equivalence.
  • The term “net-zero” is increasingly used to describe a broader and more comprehensive commitment to decarbonization and climate action.
  • Net-zero emissions are achieved when your organization’s emissions of all greenhouse gases (CO2-e) are balanced by greenhouse gas removals

Methodology

Carbon-neutral status can be achieved in two ways:

  • Carbon offsetting: Balancing carbon dioxide emissions with carbon offsets — the process of reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions or removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make up for emissions elsewhere. If the total greenhouse gasses emitted is equal to the total amount avoided or removed, then the two effects cancel each other out and the net emissions are ‘neutral’.
  • Reducing emissions: Reducing carbon emissions can be done by moving towards energy sources and industrial processes that produce fewer greenhouse gases, thereby transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Shifting towards the use of renewable energy such as hydro, wind, geothermal, and solar power, as well as nuclear power, reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Agreement and Target

  • The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.
  • Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
  • Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement asks countries to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
  • It also requires countries to undertake rapid reductions in carbon emissions to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases.

Back2Basics:  Panchamrita

  • ‘Panchamrita’ is a traditional method of mixing five natural foods — milk, ghee, curd, honey, and jaggery.
  • These are used in Hindu and Jain worship rituals. It is also used as a technique in Ayurveda.
  • The PM euphemistically termed his scheme as ‘Panchamrita’ meaning the ‘five ambrosia’.
  • Under Panchamrita’, India will:
  1. Get its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030
  2. Meet 50 percent of its energy requirements till 2030 with renewable energy
  3. Reduce its projected carbon emission by one billion tonnes by 2030
  4. Reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45 percent by 2030
  5. Achieve net-zero by 2070

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Demand side strategies for climate change mitigation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Demand-side strategies to tackle climate change

Context

A paradigm shift in the way we think about climate action has been reported for the first time in the recent IPCC report through a chapter on “demand, services and social aspects of mitigation”.

Demand side strategies and their impact

  • The report shows how, through comprehensive demand-side strategies, carbon dioxide and non-carbon GHG emissions globally can be reduced by 40–70 per cent compared to the 2050 emissions projection.
  • This can be achieved through reduced food waste, following sustainable healthy dietary choices that acknowledge nutritional needs, adaptive heating and cooling, climate-friendly dressing culture, integration of renewable energy in buildings, shifting to electric light-duty vehicles, and to walking, cycling, shared and public transit, sustainable consumption by intensive use of longer-lived repairable products, compact city design and efficient floor area use of buildings.
  • The IPCC report also shows that individuals with high socioeconomic status contribute disproportionately to emissions and have the highest potential for emissions reductions, as citizens, investors, consumers, role models, and professionals.
  • Of the 60 actions assessed in this report, on an individual level, the biggest contribution comes from walking and cycling wherever possible and using electricity-powered transport.

Need for systemic changes

  • To be effective, these shifts will need to be supported by systemic changes in some areas — for example, land use and urban planning policies to avoid urban sprawl, support for green spaces, reallocation of street spaces for walking and physical exercise, investment in public transport and infrastructure design for active and electric vehicles.
  • Electrification and shifts to public transport also bring benefits in terms of enhancing health, employment, and equality.
  • By providing user-level access to more efficient energy conversion technologies, the need for primary energy can be reduced by 45 per cent by 2050, compared to 2020.
  • Demand-side changes cannot deliver the net-zero goal on their own.
  • But this requires investment in and transformation across every sector, along with policies and incentives that encourage people to make low-carbon choices in all aspects of their lives.
  • There is huge untapped potential in the near term through changes across transport, industry, buildings, and food that will take away the supply-side uncertainties and make it easier for people to lead low-carbon lifestyles and, at the same time, improve well-being.

Conclusion

The latest IPCC report puts people and their well-being at the centre of climate change mitigation. The messages are from a global perspective but have relevance to the national context of every country.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Crisis and sustainability in the face of climate change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IPCC

Mains level : Paper 3- Vulnerability to climate change and ways for adaptation

Context

The footprint of the Covid-19 pandemic across the sectors of the economy has instilled a new reckoning for resilience and sustainability on the economic, social and environmental (ESG) front.

IPCC reports suggest adaption for resilience

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest report on climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation last month.
  • The report suggests that adaptation to climate impacts in the near to medium term can help communities and ecosystems become resilient against the threats from current and future levels of warming.
  •  Ecosystem-based adaptation, for instance, is recommended for taking care of communities and social well-being, while restoring forests, lands and marine ecosystems.
  • The report details the variability in projected climate impacts and the vulnerabilities that can be expected across regions the world over due to differences in the range of warming, geographical location, demographics and the unique biophysical, social and cultural contexts.
  • Cost-effective adaptation: It depends on a host of enablers on which global partnerships need to deliver.
  • Enablers include international cooperation, inclusive technology, financial flows, knowledge sharing and capacity building, with institutions and innovations to support policy development and on-ground implementation.

Gaps in the literature, acknowledge the uncertainties in climate science

  • The IPCC has been consistently drawing attention to the lack of adequate science from and on developing countries.
  • These countries have in turn been asking for the inclusion of what is broadly termed as “grey literature” or non-peer-reviewed literature in the IPCC process.
  • Good science encompasses the formal and the informal, theory and empiricism, the traditional along with the modern.
  • It relies on evolution through acknowledging the gaps and unknowns, the negatives and positives of past knowledge.
  • The understanding of adaptation finance, adaptation costing, and mapping of climate impacts and adaptation needs of communities in geographically remote locations, for instance, could improve with suitable sourcing of information.

Way forward

  • Sustainable development, inclusive of climate resilience, calls for an ensemble approach — one that places contextually appropriate emphasis on tackling climate change impacts and development needs in a world with growing challenges.
  • The pathway to be adopted is one of an integrated risk assessment approach, where solutions are interventions that impact the immediate, near and medium-term outcomes for developing economies.
  • Striking the right balance is at any time a choice driven as much by enablers (capabilities, lifestyles and values, financial flows, technical know-how) as by constraints (warming levels, poverty, inequality, lack of health and education).

Conclusion

The pandemic highlighted the need for balance in nature-people relationships, even as it tested the ability of the developing world.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

The phenomenon of Coral Bleaching

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Coral Bleaching

Mains level : Coral Reefs and their significance

The management authority of the world’s largest coral reef system, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, confirmed on March 25 that the reef is experiencing a mass coral bleaching event.

What are Coral Reefs?

  • Corals are marine invertebrates or animals not possessing a spine.
  • Each coral is called a polyp and thousands of such polyps live together to form a colony, which grows when polyps multiply to make copies of themselves.
  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system stretching across 2,300 km.
  • It hosts 400 different types of coral, gives shelter to 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc.
  • Corals are of two types — hard coral and soft coral:
  1. Hard corals, also called hermatypic or ‘reef building’ corals extract calcium carbonate (also found in limestone) from the seawater to build hard, white coral exoskeletons.
  2. Soft coral polyps, however, borrow their appearance from plants, attach themselves to such skeletons and older skeletons built by their ancestors. Soft corals also add their own skeletons to the hard structure over the years and these growing multiplying structures gradually form coral reefs. They are the largest living structures on the planet.

How do the feed themselves?

  • Corals share a symbiotic relationship with single-celled algae called zooxanthellae.
  • The algae provides the coral with food and nutrients, which they make through photosynthesis, using the sun’s light.
  • In turn, the corals give the algae a home and key nutrients.
  • The zooxanthellae also give corals their bright colour.

What is Coral Bleaching?

  • Bleaching happens when corals experience stress in their environment due to changes in temperature, pollution or high levels of ocean acidity.
  • Under stressed conditions, the zooxanthellae or food-producing algae living inside coral polyps start producing reactive oxygen species, which are not beneficial to the corals.
  • So, the corals expel the colour-giving zooxanthellae from their polyps, which exposes their pale white exoskeleton, giving the corals a bleached appearance.
  • This also ends the symbiotic relationship that helps the corals to survive and grow.
  • Severe bleaching and prolonged heat stress in the external environment can lead to coral death.

Impact of climate change

  • Over the last couple of decades, climate change and increased global warming owing to rising carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases have made seas warmer than usual.
  • Under all positive outlooks and projections in terms of cutting greenhouse gases, sea temperatures are predicted to increase by 1.5°C to 2°C by the time the century nears its end.
  • The first mass bleaching event had occurred in 1998 when the El Niño weather pattern caused sea surfaces in the pacific ocean to heat up; this event caused 8% of the world’s coral to die.
  • The second event took place in 2002.
  • In the past decade, however, mass bleaching occurrences have become more closely spaced in time, with the longest and most damaging bleaching event taking place from 2014 to 2017.

Significance of Corals

  • Coral reefs support over 25% of marine biodiversity, including fish, turtles and lobsters; even as they only take up 1% of the seafloor.
  • The marine life supported by reefs further fuels global fishing industries. Even giant clams and whales depend on the reefs to live.
  • Besides, coral reef systems generate $2.7 trillion in annual economic value through goods and service trade and tourism.
  • In Australia, the Barrier Reef, in pre-COVID times, generated $4.6 billion annually through tourism and employed over 60,000 people including divers and guides.
  • Aside from adding economic value and being a support system for aquatic life, coral reefs also provide protection from storm waves.
  • Dead reefs can revive over time if there are enough fish species that can graze off the weeds that settle on dead corals, but it takes almost a decade for the reef to start setting up again.

Current condition of the Great Barrier Reef

  • The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report this month, which warned that the life of the Great Barrier is in grave danger.
  • The report said that if temperatures continue to rise, bleaching events may occur more often and a large proportion of the remaining reef cover in Australia could be lost.
  • Just a couple of weeks after this warning, the Barrier Reef Authority confirmed a mass bleaching phenomenon affecting all pockets of the reef system.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Most of the world’s coral reefs are in tropical waters.
  2. More than one third of the world’s coral reefs are located in the territories of Australia, Indonesia and Philippines.
  3. Coral reefs host far more number of animal phyla than those hosted by tropical rainforests.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

 

Post your answers here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is a Heatwave?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Heatwaves

Mains level : Not Much

The Konkan region, including Mumbai, has been experiencing sweltering heat in recent days, with the maximum temperatures touching the 40 degrees mark.

What is a Heatwave and when is it declared?

  • Heatwaves occur over India between March and June.
  • IMD declares a heatwave event when the maximum (day) temperature for a location in the plains crosses 40 degrees Celsius.
  • Over the hills, the threshold temperature is 30 degrees Celsius.

Following criteria are used to declare heatwave:

To declare heatwave, the below criteria should be met at least in 2 stations in a Meteorological subdivision for at least two consecutive days and it will be declared on the second day.

a) Based on Departure from Normal

  • Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 4.5°C to 6.4°C
  • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is >6.4°C

b) Based on Actual Maximum Temperature (for plains only)

  • Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥ 45°C
  • Severe Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥47°C

How long can a heatwave spell last?

  • A heatwave spell generally lasts for a minimum of four days. On some occasions, it can extend up to seven or ten days.
  • The longest recorded heatwave spell, in recent years, was between 18 – 31 May 2015.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Mumbai Climate Action Plan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MCAP

Mains level : Climate vulnerability preparedness of coastal cities

The Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP) has laid down a 30-year road map for the city to tackle the challenges of climate change by adopting inclusive and robust mitigation and adaptation strategies.

What is MCAP ?

  • The MCAP has set short-, medium- and long-term climate goals aimed towards zero emission of greenhouse gas or a net-zero target for 2050.
  • It focuses on priority across six strategic areas:
  1. Sustainable waste management
  2. Urban greening and biodiversity
  3. Urban flooding and water resource management,
  4. Energy and buildings
  5. Air quality and
  6. Sustainable mobility

Features of the plan

  • The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) prepared the plan with technical support from the World Resources Institute (WRI), India and the C40 Cities network.
  • It concentrates on the city, its ecological, cultural and economical landscapes.
  • The plan throws light on the current climate of the city called Baseline Assessment—climate and air pollution risks, greenhouse gas inventory.
  • The plan then assesses future trajectories in the business-as-usual scenarios and assesses future emission reduction scenarios to make Mumbai net-zero by 2050.

Why does Mumbai need a climate action plan?

  • As per a study conducted by WRI India on Mumbai’s vulnerability assessment, the city will face two major challenges—temperature rise, and extreme rain events which lead to flooding.
  • The city is already witnessing a warming trend.
  • The analysis has revealed a warming trend over 47 years (1973-2020) with an increase of 0.25°C per decade for the city.

What is the current greenhouse gas emission?

  • In 2019, which is taken as a base year, Mumbai’s GHG emissions were 23.42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emission, which is 1.8 tonnes CO2e per person.
  • Out of which, 16.9 million tonnes or 72 per cent is from the energy sector, followed by 4.56 million tonnes of CO2 e or 20 per cent from the transportation sector.
  • The city’s waste sector contributes to a total of eight per cent of the total emissions.
  • Most of the city’s emissions come from energy use in residential buildings followed by commercial buildings and transport.
  • Electricity consumption contributes significantly to total emissions (64.3%), due to the city’s predominantly coal-based grid.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Need for political will to tackle climate change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IPCC

Mains level : Paper 3- IPCC sixth assessment report

Context

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on Monday its sixth assessment report.

Bleak assessment of our future

  • In its sixth assessment report, titled ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’, the IPCC discusses the increasing extreme heat, rising oceans, melting glaciers, falling agricultural productivity, resultant food shortages and increase in diseases like dengue and zika.
  • Failed climate leadership: Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, quoted in The New York Times, describes the IPCC report as being “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”
  • The IPCC warns that should our planet get warmer than 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times (we are at 1.1 degrees at present), then there will be irreversible impact on “ecosystems with low resilience” such as polar, mountain and coastal ecosystems “impacted by glacier melt, and higher sea level rise”.
  • This will cause devastation to “infrastructure in low-lying coastal settlements, associated livelihoods and even erosion of cultural and spiritual values.”
  • The increased heat will lead to an increase in diseases like diabetes, circulatory and respiratory conditions, as well as mental health challenges.

Impact on India

  • Climate “maladaptation”: The IPCC also highlights that climate “maladaptation” will especially affect “marginalised and vulnerable groups adversely, indigenous people, ethnic minorities, low-income households and informal settlements” and those in rural areas.
  • Therefore, India, with a majority of its people falling in these categories, will be especially devastated.
  • The IPCC highlights India as a vulnerable hotspot, with several regions and cities facing climate change phenomena like flooding, sea-level rise and heatwaves.
  • For instance, Mumbai is at high risk of sea-level rise and flooding, and Ahmedabad faces the danger of heat waves — these phenomena are already underway in both cities.
  • Vector-borne and water-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue will be on the rise in sub-tropical regions, like parts of Punjab, Assam and Rajasthan.
  • When the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the grains we consume, including wheat and rice, will have diminished nutritional quality.
  • Over the past 30 years, major crop yields have decreased by 4-10 per cent globally due to climate change.
  • Consequently, India, which continues to be predominantly agrarian, is likely to be especially hurt.
  • Urban India is at greater risk than other areas with a projected population of 877 million by 2050 nearly double of 480 million in 2020.
  • The concentration of population in these cities will make them extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Conclusion

Fighting climate change requires fiscal expenditure and policy changes fuelled by political will, which will reap results in a decade or so. Yet, our political class has no cohesive and urgent policy roadmap to combat rising emissions and our diminishing life spans.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

IPCC releases part of the Sixth Assessment Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IPCC, UNFCC

Mains level : IPCC assessment reports and their significance

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second part of its sixth assessment report. The first part was released in 2021.

What is IPCC?

  • The IPCC, an intergovernmental body was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • It was later endorsed by the UN General Assembly. Membership is open to all members of the WMO and UN.
  • The IPCC produces reports that contribute to the work of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the main international treaty on climate change.
  • The objective of the UNFCCC is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system.”

What are the Assessment Reports?

  • Every few years, the IPCC produces assessment reports that are the most comprehensive scientific evaluations of the state of earth’s climate.
  • Instead, it asks scientists from around the world to go through all the relevant scientific literature related to climate change and draw up the logical conclusions.
  • So far, five assessment reports have been produced, the first one being released in 1990.
  • The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report was a critical scientific input into the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement in 2015.

Highlights of the recent report

  • Rapidly advancing climate change: From the melting of the Greenland ice sheet to the destruction of coral reefs, climate related impacts are hitting the world at the high end much more quickly than previously assessed by the IPCC.
  • Limitations of technology: The use of some technologies designed to limit warming or reduce CO2 could make matters worse rather than better.
  • Impact of urbanization: While large cities are hotspots for climate impacts, they also offer a real opportunity to avoid the worst impacts of warming.
  • Limited opportunity for mitigation: The report has warned the opportunity for action will only last for the rest of this decade.

Some projections of the first part of 6th Report

Apart from incorporating the latest available scientific evidence, the Sixth Assessment Report is also attempting to provide more actionable information to help governments take policy decisions.

  • Regional focus: It is expected that this report would likely state what the scenarios for sea-level rise in the Bay of Bengal region is, not just what the average sea-level rise across the world is likely to be.
  • Rise of extreme events: There is expected to be bigger focus on extreme weather events, like the ones we have seen in the last few weeks.
  • Vulnerabilities of urban areas: Densely populated mega-cities are supposed to be among the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change. The report is expected to present specific scenarios the climate change impacts on cities and large urban populations, and also implications for key infrastructure.
  • Synergy of climate action is needed: IPCC is expected to present a more integrated understanding of the situation, cross-link evidence and discuss trade-offs between different options or pathways, and also likely to cover social implications of climate change action by countries.

Here is what the previous assessment reports had said:

First Assessment Report (1990)

  • Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases.
  • Global temperatures have risen by 0.3 to 0.6 degree Celsius in last 100 years. In business-as-usual scenario, temperatures likely to increase by 2 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels by 2025, and 4 degree Celsius by 2100
  • Sea-level likely to rise by 65 cm by 2100

This report formed the basis for negotiation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.

Second Assessment Report (1995)

  • Revises projected rise in global temperatures to 3 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, sea-level rise to 50 cm, in light of more evidence.
  • Global rise in temperature by 0.3 to 0.6 degree Celsius since late 19th century, “unlikely to be entirely natural in origin”.

This report was the scientific underpinning for Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

Third Assessment Report (2001)

  • Revises projected rise in global temperatures to 1.4 to 5.8 degree Celsius by 2100 compared to 1990. Projected rate of warming unprecedented in last 10,000 years.
  • Rainfall will increase on an average. The report also predicts that by 2100, the sea level is likely to rise by as much as 80 cm from 1990 levels. Glaciers to retreat during the 21st century.
  • Frequency, intensity and duration of extreme weather events to increase.
  • Presents new and stronger evidence to suggest that global warming is mostly attributable to human activities.

Fourth Assessment Report (2007)

  • Greenhouse gas emissions increased by 70 per cent between 1970 and 2004.
  • Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 in 2005 (379 ppm) the maximum in 650,000 years.
  • In worst case scenario, global temperatures could rise 4.5 degree Celsius by 2100 from pre-industrial levels. Sea-levels could be 60 cm higher than 1990 levels.

The report won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for IPCC and was the scientific input for the 2009 Copenhagen climate meeting.

Fifth Assessment Report (2014)

  • More than half the temperature rise since 1950 attributable to human activities.
  • Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide “unprecedented” in the last 800,000 years.
  • Rise in global temperatures by 2100 could be as high as 4.8 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times
  • More frequent and longer heat waves “virtually certain”.
  • “Large fraction of species” face extinction. Food security would be undermined.

This report formed the scientific basis for negotiations of the Paris Agreement in 2015.


Back2Basics: UNFCCC

  • The UNFCCC established an international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
  • It was signed by 154 states at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What are CRZ norms?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CRZ

Mains level : Sea level rise and threats to coastal cities

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) inspected a bungalow owned by a Union Minister for alleged violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

What is the news?

  • The Union Minister’s bungalow named has been illicitly constructed within 50 metres of the sea in violation of the CRZ rules.
  • The crackdown assumes significance in the escalating verbal spats between the two political rivals (which were allies for years).

What are CRZ norms?

  • In India, the CRZ Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline, in order to protect the fragile ecosystems near the sea.
  • They restrict certain kinds of activities — like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, reclamation and bunding — within a certain distance from the coastline.
  • After the passing of the Environment Protection Act in 1986, CRZ Rules were first framed in 1991.
  • After these were found to be restrictive, the Centre notified new Rules in 2011, which also included exemptions for the construction of the Navi Mumbai airport and for projects of the Department of Atomic Energy.
  • While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union environment ministry, implementation is to be ensured by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.

Where do they apply?

  • In all Rules, the regulation zone has been defined as the area up to 500 m from the high-tide line.
  • The restrictions depend on criteria such as the population of the area, the ecological sensitivity, the distance from the shore, and whether the area had been designated as a natural park or wildlife zone.
  • The latest Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.

New Rules under CRZ regulations

  • The government notified new CRZ Rules with the stated objectives of promoting sustainable development and conserving coastal environments.
  • For the so-called CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have been stipulated.
  • In the densely populated rural areas (CRZ-IIIA) with a population density of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census, the no-development zone is now 50 m from the high-tide level, as against the 200 m stipulated earlier.
  • In the CRZ-IIIB category (rural areas with population density below 2,161 per sq km) continue to have a no-development zone extending up to 200 m from the high-tide line.
  • The new Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Erra Matti Dibbalu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Erra Matti Dibbalu

Mains level : NA

Citizens join hands to preserve the geological marvel of Erra Matti Dibbalu in Visakhapatnam.

What is Erra Matti Dibbalu?

  • Located between Visakhapatnam and Bheemunipatnam, the Erra Matti Dibbalu are rare red sand dunes that are a reminder of the million years of geological processes.
  • Its towering red sand dunes with patches of greenery is like a meandering maze.
  • The width of the dunes, which runs for five kilometres along the coast, varies from 200 metres to two kilometres.
  • It is listed among the 34 notified National Geological Heritage Monument Sites of India by the Geological Survey of India.

(Don’t they resemble to Ravines of Chambal?)

Its formation

  • Studies indicate that the area was tectonically active between 2.5 million years and 11,000 years ago.
  • The sediments are mainly derived from the Khondalite rocks from the hinterland of the Eastern Ghats.
  • Geologically these red sand dune sediments particularly hold significance.
  • They are the result of the combined effect of numerous factors including global climatic changes, sea-level variations, monsoonal variability and as a result serves as valuable paleo-environment indicators.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CVI

Mains level : Climate vulnerability of coastlines

Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has carried out coastal vulnerability assessment for entire Indian coast at states level.

Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI)

  • Under the CVI, INCOIS has brought out an Atlas comprising 156 maps on 1:1,00,000 scales to prepare a CVI.
  • These maps determine the coastal risks due to future sea-level rise based on the physical and geological parameters for the Indian coast.
  • The CVI uses the relative risk that physical changes will occur as sea-level rises are quantified based on parameters like:
  1. Tidal range
  2. Wave height
  3. Coastal slope
  4. Coastal elevation
  5. Shoreline change rate
  6. Geomorphology
  7. Historical rate of relative sea-level change

Other components: MHVM

  • A coastal Multi-Hazard Vulnerability Mapping (MHVM) was also carried out using above mentioned parameters.
  • These parameters were synthesized to derive the composite hazard zones that can be inundated along the coastal low-lying areas due to extreme flooding events.
  • This MHVM mapping was carried for the entire mainland of India on a 1:25000 scale.
  • These maps depict the coastal low-lying areas exposed to the coastal inundation.

Significance of CVI

  • India has a coastline of 7516.6 Km i.e. 6100 km of mainland coastline plus coastline of 1197 Indian islands touching 13 States and Union Territories (UTs).
  • Coastal vulnerability assessments can be useful information for coastal disaster management and building resilient coastal communities.

What is Coastal Security?

  • Coastal Security is understood as a subset of maritime security. It
    involves the security of the coastal water zone against any threat or challenge that originates from the sea. Coastal water zone refers to the water area seawards of the Indian coast up to the limit of India’s contiguous zone, or the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) whichever is less.
  • Coastal security has a wide connotation encompassing maritime border management, island security, maintenance of peace, stability and good order in coastal areas and enforcement of laws therein, security of ports, coastal installations, and other structures
    including Vital Areas and Vital Points (VAs/VPs) and vessels and personnel operating in coastal areas. An effective
    organization for coastal security also facilitates coastal defense.

Why is coastal security considered indispensable for India?

  • National Security: The elaborate security arrangements on land forced the terrorists and illegal migrants to look towards the sea where security measures are comparatively lax, enabling them to ‘move, hide and strike’ with relative ease. Plugging this loophole is imperative to enable a holistic national security architecture.
  • Economic development: Coastal region plays an important part in India’s economic development. Security of the region will have a direct bearing on the following areas:
    a) Trade: India’s sea dependence on oil is about 93% which includes India’s offshore oil production and petroleum exports. Further, 95% of India’s trade by volume and 68% of trade by value comes via the Indian Ocean.
    b) Fish production: India is the second-largest fish producer in the world with a total production of 13.7 million metric tonnes in 2018-19 of which 35% was from the maritime sector. In the same period, India had exported Rs 46,589.37 crore worth of marine products.
    c) Strategic minerals: India hosts some of the largest and richest shoreline placers. The beach and dune sands in India contain heavy minerals (HMs) like ilmenite, rutile, garnet, zircon, monazite and sillimanite.
    d) Geostrategic interests: The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has become a pivotal zone of global strategic competition.
    e) Dealing with climate-induced crises: Coastal zones are already under threat from environmental degradation. At the same time, the sinking of islands due to the rising sea levels in the Indian Ocean may result in the rise of climate refugees.

How India’s Coastal Security Architecture has evolved over the years?

  • Customs Marine Organisation (CMO), 1974: Created on the recommendation of Nag Chaudhari Committee, it was mandated to conduct anti-smuggling operations. However, since the CMO was temporary in nature, not much attention was paid to strengthening this organisation. In 1982, it was merged with the ICG to avoid the duplication of efforts.
  • Indian Coast Guard (ICG), 1977: With the enactment of the Indian Coast Guard Act, 1978, the organization formally
    came into being as the fourth armed force of India. Its mandates include thwarting smuggling activities, safeguarding and protecting artificial islands, offshore terminals, installations, and other devices in the maritime zone, protecting and assisting fishermen in distress and preserving and protecting the marine environment, including
    controlling marine pollution.
  • Coastal Security Scheme (CSS), 2005: Instituted originally in 2005 and implemented by the Department of Border
    Management, Ministry of Home Affairs. The aim of the CSS was to strengthen infrastructure for patrolling and the surveillance of the coastal areas, particularly the shallow areas close to the coast.
  • Coastal Security Architecture Post ‘26/11’: Since then, the physical assets were built up and human resource capability was
    also enhanced to strengthen the coastal security. These
    efforts include:
    Strengthening the Multilayered Surveillance System: Before 2008, the existing multilayered surveillance system under the CSS was functioning only along the Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts.
    Indian Navy(IN): It was designated as the authority responsible for overall maritime security which includes coastal as well as offshore security. It was also made responsible for the coastal defense of the nation assisted by the ICG, the marine police, and
    other central and state agencies.
    ICG: The Director-General Coast Guard has been designated as the Commander Coastal Command, and is responsible for the overall coordination between central and state agencies in all matters relating to coastal security.
    Border Security Force (BSF): The water wing of the BSF have been deployed along with eight floating border outposts (BOPs), for the security and surveillance of the creeks in Gujarat and the Sunderbans.
    Central Industrial Security Force (CISF): It was entrusted with the responsibility of the physical security of India’s major ports. Vessel Traffic Management Systems (VTMS) are also being installed in all the major and a few non-major ports to monitor and regulate maritime traffic as well as to detect potentially dangerous ships.
    Sagar Suraksha Dal: An informal layer of surveillance, comprising the fishermen community- created following the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts – has also been formalized and activated in all coastal states.
  • National Maritime Domain Awareness (NMDA) Project: It includes an integrated intelligence grid to detect and tackle threats emanating from the sea in real-time. Post 26/11, it has been strengthened by establishing NC3I network and IMAC that generate a common operational picture of activities at sea
    through an institutionalized mechanism.
  • Maritime Theatre Command (MTC): MTC structure is
    proposed to integrate the assets of the Indian Navy, Army, IAF
    and Coast Guard to achieve the goals detailed out in the Joint
    Forces Doctrine (JFD), 2017. It will enable the security forces
    to form a ‘Net-centric’ Warfare model so as to gain an
    an advantage over the adversary using a flexible force structure
    to match the varied geographic domains.
  • Inter-agency maritime exercises: Such exercises help
    build inter-service synergy, interoperability, and
    jointness. These include ‘Sagar Kavach’, ‘Sea Vigil’, TROPEX.
  • Increased cooperation with littoral countries: India
    interacts more actively with littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region and employs maritime security engagement as a cornerstone of her regional foreign policy initiatives.

Gaps in existing architecture

  • Lackadaisical approach of the State governments resulting in the slow pace of construction of coastal infrastructure.
  • Multiplicity of agencies results in poor coordination.
  • Disproportionate focus on terrorism results in less emphasis on non-traditional threats.
  • Lack of professionalism and capacity constraints in marine police forces.
  • Technological backwardnessPort security remains neglected in most of the minor ports.

Ways to fill gaps in the existing architecture

  • Enacting the proposed Coastal Security Bill that will facilitate the creation of NMA.
  • Strengthening the surveillance system
  • Creation of Central Marine Police Force (CMPF)
  • Promulgate the National commercial maritime security policy document for efficient, coordinated, and effective actions.
  • Effective involvement of Coastal communities such as fishermen.
  • Reinforcing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations
    Recalibrate the defense expenditure to increase capacity and resources.

 


Back2Basics: INCOIS

  • Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) is an autonomous body under Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
  • It has been issuing alerts on Potential Fishing Zone, Ocean State Forecast, Tsunami Early Warning, Storm Surge Early Warning, High Wave Alerts, etc.
  • It works through a dedicated ocean modeling, observations, computation facilities and the marine data center.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Towards low emissions growth

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : COP26

Mains level : Paper 3- Transition to net zero-emission future

Context

While many developing countries made net-zero pledges at COP26 in Glasgow, they face enormous developmental challenges in their attempts to grow in a climate-constrained world.

Developmental challenges for India

  • For India, the national context is shaped by high youth unemployment, millions more entering the workforce each year, and a country hungry for substantial investments in hard infrastructure to industrialise and urbanise.
  • Growth with low emission footprint: India’s economic growth in the last three decades, led by growth in the services sector, has come at a significantly lower emissions footprint.
  • But in the coming decades, India will have to move to an investment-led and manufacturing-intensive growth model to create job opportunities and create entirely new cities and infrastructure to accommodate and connect an increasingly urban population.
  •  All of this requires a lot of energy. Can India do all of this with a low emissions footprint?

What could India do to pursue an industrialization pathway that is climate-compatible?

  • A coherent national transition strategy is important in a global context where industrialised countries are discussing the imposition of carbon border taxes while failing to provide developing countries the necessary carbon space to grow or the finance and technological assistance necessary to decarbonise.
  • What India needs is an overarching green industrialisation strategy that combines laws, policy instruments, and new or reformed implementing institutions to steer its decentralised economic activities to become climate-friendly and resilient.

Issues with India’s domestic manufacturing of renewable technology components

  • India’s industrial policy efforts to increase the domestic manufacturing of renewable energy technology components have been affected by policy incoherence, poor management of economic rents, and contradictory policy objectives.
  • India managed to create just a third of jobs per megawatt that China has managed to in its efforts to promote solar PV and wind technologies.
  • China has created more jobs in manufacturing solar and wind components for exports than domestic deployment.
  • India could have retained some of those jobs if it were strategic in promoting these technologies.

Opportunities in decarbonising transport and industry sector

  • Technologies needed to decarbonise the transport and industry sectors provide a significant opportunity for India.
  • However, India’s R&D investments in these emerging green technologies are non-existent.
  • PLI is a step in right direction: The production-linked incentives (PLIs) under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ are a step in the right direction for localising clean energy manufacturing activities.
  • Focus on R&D: Aligning existing RD&D investments with the technologies needed for green industrialisation is crucial for realising quantum jumps in economic activities.
  • Encourage private entrepreneurship: India also needs to nurture private entrepreneurship and experimentation in clean energy technologies.
  • Besides China, Korea’s green growth strategy provide examples of how India could gain economic and employment rents from green industrialisation without implementing restrictive policies.

Way forward

  • India should set its pace based on its ability to capitalise on the opportunities to create wealth through green industrialisation.
  • India should follow a path where it can negotiate carbon space to grow, buying time for the hard-to-abate sectors; push against counterproductive WTO trade litigations on decarbonisation technologies; all while making R&D investments in those technologies to ensure that it can gain economic value in the transition.

Consider the question “What are the challenges India faces as it strives to reach the goal of net-zero emission by 2070. Suggest the strategy India should follow to maximise the developmental gains.”

Conclusion

The government should neither succumb to international pressure to decarbonise soon nor should it postpone its investment in decarbonisation technologies and lose its long-term competitiveness in a global low-carbon economy.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Nusantara City: New Capital of Indonesia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nusantara

Mains level : NA

Indonesia passed a bill replacing its capital Jakarta with East Kalimantan, situated to the east of Borneo island. The new capital city of the country will be called Nusantara.

About Nusantara

  • The New State Capital Law Bill has been drafted by a special committee set up by Widodo’s government and makes Nusantara, also called IKN, the capital of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • The transfer of the status of Jakarta as Indonesia’s capital to Nusantara, where 256,142 hectares of land has been set aside for the project, will take place in the “first semester” of 2024.
  • East Kalimantan, where the new capital will be, as per the bill is said to have a world-city vision.
  • It will be designed and managed with the objective of becoming a sustainable city in the world.

Why is Indonesia changing its capital city?

  • The new location is very strategic – it’s in the centre of Indonesia and close to urban areas.
  • The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the centre of governance, business, finance, trade and services.
  • Jakarta is also infamous for being the worlds’ first sinking capital city due to rising sea levels.
  • The city’s pollution levels are so bad that it has been ranking as one of the most polluted cities in the world for years.
  • Another important reason to shift the capital from Java island to Borneo island has been the growing inequality – financial and otherwise.

Where is East Kalimantan?

  • East Kalimantan is 2,300 kilometres from Jakarta on the eastern side of Borneo island, shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
  • The new capital will be located in the North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara regions.
  • East Kalimantan is an area with immense water resources and habitable terrain.
  • East Kalimantan is rich in flora and fauna.

Why Nusantara?

  • Nusantara is an old Javanese term that means ‘archipelago’.
  • Nusantara has historical, sociological, and philosophical aspects attached to the name.
  • The name would represent Indonesia as a whole and would show the potential of the nation.

What are the other countries that have changed capitals?

  • Indonesia is not the first country to change its capital city.
  • There has been a long list of countries that have changed their capitals for various reasons. Brazil changed its capital city from Rio De Janerio to Brasilia, a more centrally-located city, in 1960.
  • In 1991, Nigeria hanged the country’s capital from Lagos to Abuja.
  • Kazakhstan moved its capital city from Almaty, which is still its commercial centre, to Nur-Sultan in 1997.
  • Myanmar changed its capital from Rangoon to Naypyidaw in 2005.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is Irrecoverable Carbon?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Irrecoverable Carbon

Mains level : Global carbon sinks

Researchers have identified and mapped 139 gigatonnes (Gt) of “irrecoverable carbon” in some of the world’s major forests and peatlands — including the Amazon and the Congo — to avoid catastrophic climate change.

What is Irrecoverable Carbon?

  • The concept of ‘irrecoverable carbon’ was introduced in 2020.
  • All kinds of ecosystems — lush rainforest, muddy peatland, shady mangroves — contain eons of stored carbon, captured by photosynthesis.
  • Per square kilometer, the forests are among the most effective carbon stores in the world; but they’re also some of the most difficult to restore.
  • If destroyed, these ecosystems could take decades or centuries to regenerate.
  • In other words, the 139 gigatons of carbon contained in these areas are effectively irrecoverable if released due to anthropogenic activities.
  • Once released in air, it can be recovered but would take centuries to fully recover or naturally reintegrate.

What is the new research?

  • In the new study, researchers have identified and mapped carbon reserves that are “manageable, are vulnerable to disturbance” and cannot be recovered by 2050.
  • They held study of peatlands of the Congo Basin and Northern Europe; and in North America, the mangrove swamps of the Everglades and old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest.
  • 2050 has been set as the deadline for taking global carbon emissions to net zero in order for Earth to avoid warming at 1.5-2 degrees celsius above the pre-industrial levels.
  • To mitigate such a warming scenario, it is imperative to conserve the ecosystems with 139 Gt carbon.

Key findings

  • Amazon is the biggest carbon sink on earth, holding 31.5 Gt irrecoverable carbon.
  • Brazil has the second-largest irrecoverable carbon reserves, after Russia that holds 23 per cent of the total irrecoverable carbon outlay in the world.
  • The second-largest reserve of carbon, at 132 Gt, comprise the islands of Southeast Asia, with their equatorial rainforests.
  • The Congo basin is the third-largest hotspot of irrecoverable carbon with over 8 Gt of carbon reserves, according to the study.
  • Australia, which has become a hotspot for wildfires, is home to 2.5 per cent of the world’s carbon reserve along its coastal mangroves and forests in the southeast and southwest.

Why conserve these forests?

  • These regions are already being ravaged by wildfires and exploited for resources by mining and oil industries.
  • Since 2010, agriculture, logging and wildfire have caused emissions of at least 4 Gt of irrecoverable carbon.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Majuli River Island

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Majuli Island

Mains level : Not Much

Soil erosion, coupled with changing climatic conditions, has been writing a cruel destiny for the inhabitants of Majuli in Assam, the largest river island in the world.

About Majuli Island

  • Majuli is a riverine island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam and in 2016 it became the first island to be made a district in India.
  • Majuli has shrunk as the river surrounding it has grown.
  • It had an area of 880 square kilometers (340 sq mi) at the beginning of the 20th century but having lost significantly to erosion it covers 553 square kilometers as at 2014.
  • It is the abode of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture.

Its formation

  • The island is formed by the Brahmaputra River in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north.
  • It was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Challenges in India’s net-zero emission target

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Challenges in meeting COP26 commitments made by India

Context

Even though New Delhi has invested in renewable energy and announced a net-zero target, there is a gap between the announcements and the ground reality, as is evident from the promotion of coal.

India’s commitments

  •  AT the COP 26 in Glasgow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India has set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
  • India also updated its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that have to be met by 2030.
  • Its new pledge includes increasing the country’s installed renewable capacity to 500 GW, meeting 50 per cent of its energy requirements from non-fossil fuel sources.

India’s achievements on past commitments

  • At the COP 21 in Paris, India, made similar ambitious announcements and aimed to reduce the economy-wide emissions intensity by 33-35 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • In August, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced that the country has installed 100 GW of renewable energy capacity.
  • The majority of this 100 GW, about 78 per cent, is due to large-scale wind and solar power projects.
  • While this is a milestone, India is on track to accomplishing only about two-thirds of its planned renewable target of 175 GW installation by 2022.
  •  To achieve its new goals, India will need to do more in different directions.
  • For instance, it has a target of achieving 40 GW of green energy from the rooftop solar sector by 2022, but it has not been able to achieve even 20 per cent of that so far.
  • In the transport sector, India has targeted a 30 per cent share of electric vehicles (EV) in new sales for 2030.

India’s climate actions against the Paris Agreement targets

  •  The Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action against the Paris Agreement targets, deems India’s performance as “highly insufficient” simply because coal represents about 70 per cent of the country’s energy supply. 
  • India also needs to cut down subsidies to the fossil fuel industry drastically — not the case currently.
  • While in the past seven years, the country has invested Rs 5.2 trillion in renewable energy, the investment in fossil fuel industry, though down by (only) 4 per cent from 2015-19, was Rs 245 trillion.
  • Coal production is estimated to increase to one billion tonnes by 2024 from 716 million tonnes in 2020-21.
  • According to the Central Electricity Authority, coal capacity is projected to increase from 202GW in 2021 to 266GW by 2029-30.
  • The Government of India is not actively discouraging such investments.
  • On the contrary, coal subsidies are still 35 per cent higher than the subsidies for renewables and coal-fired power generation receives indirect financial support from the government through income tax exemptions and land acquisition at a preferential rate.

Conclusion

It is also true that India’s energy transition would be in its own interest because, otherwise, economic growth will not be sustainable and human security will be at stake if dozens of millions of climate refugees are created due to the devastating consequences of climate change.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Does India have a right to burn fossil fuels?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Chalking out a greener path to development

Context

There has been quite a lot of debate on India’s dependence on coal against the backdrop of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) meeting. The crux of the theoretical argument is that India needs to develop, and development requires energy.

Carbon budget framework

  • India has neither historically emitted nor currently emits carbon anywhere close to what the global North has, or does, in per capita terms.
  • If anything, the argument goes, it should ask for a higher and fairer share in the global carbon budget.
  • There is no doubt that this carbon budget framework is an excellent tool to understand global injustice but to move from there to our ‘right to burn’ is a big leap.
  • However, the question is do the countries in the global South necessarily need to increase their share in the global carbon budget?

Why should developing countries aim for development without increasing carbon emission

1) Reducing the cost of renewable energy

  • Normally the argument in favour of coal is on account of its cost, reliability and domestic availability.
  • Recent data show that the levelised cost of electricity from renewable energy sources like solar (photovoltaic), hydro and onshore wind has been declining sharply over the last decade and is already less than fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
  •  On reliability, frontier renewable energy technologies have managed to address the question of variability of such sources to a large extent and, with technological progress, it seems to be changing for the better.
  • As for the easy domestic availability of coal, it is a myth.
  • India is among the largest importers of coal in the world, whereas it has no dearth of solar energy.

2) Following different development model

  •  During the debates of post-colonial development in the Third World, there were two significant issues under discussion — control over technology and choice of techniques to address the issue of surplus labour.
  • India didn’t quite resolve the two issues in its attempts of import-substituting industrialisation which worsened during the post-reform period.
  • But it can address both today.
  • The abundance of renewable natural resources in the tropical climate can give India a head start in this competitive world of technology.
  • South-South collaborations can help India avoid the usual patterns of trade between the North and the South, where the former controls technology and the latter merely provides inputs.
  • And the high-employment trajectory that the green path entails vis-à-vis the fossil fuel sector may help address the issue of surplus labour, even if partially.
  • Such a path could additionally provide decentralised access to clean energy to the poor and the marginalised, including in remote regions of India.

3) Limitation of addressing global injustice in terms of a carbon budget

  •  The framework of addressing global injustice in terms of a carbon budget is quite limiting in its scope in more ways than one.
  • Such an injustice is not at the level of the nation-states alone; there is such injustice between the rich and the poor within nations and between humans and non-human species.
  • A progressive position on justice would take these injustices into account instead of narrowly focusing on the framework of nation-states.
  • Moreover, it’s a double whammy of injustice for the global South when it comes to climate change.
  • Not only is it not primarily responsible, but the global South, especially its poor, will unduly bear the effect of climate change because of its tropical climate and high population density along the coastal lines.
  • So, arguing for more coal is like shooting oneself in the foot.

Way forward

  • One of the ways in which this can be done is by making the global North pay for the energy transition in the South.
  • Chalking out an independent, greener path to development may create conditions for such negotiations and give the South the moral high ground to force the North to come to the table, like South Africa did at Glasgow.

Conclusion

Even if one is pessimistic about this path of righting the wrongs of the past, at the very least, it is better than the status quo.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

The long road to Net Zero

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Net-Zero

Mains level : Roadmap for net-zero targets

India has joined a high-profile group of countries pledging for net-zero target by 2070.

What does Net-Zero mean?

  • Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero.
  • That would be gross-zero, which means reaching a state where there are no emissions at all, a scenario hard to comprehend.
  • Therefore, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

What’s the difference between gross zero and net-zero?

  • Gross zero would mean stopping all emissions, which isn’t realistically attainable across all sectors of our lives and industry.
  • Even with best efforts to reduce them, there will still be some emissions.
  • Net-zero looks at emissions overall, allowing for the removal of any unavoidable emissions, such as those from aviation or manufacturing.
  • Removing greenhouse gases could be via nature, as trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or through new technology or changing industrial processes.

What is carbon negativity?

  • It is even possible for a country to have negative emissions if the absorption and removal exceed the actual emissions.
  • *Bhutan has negative emissions because it absorbs more than it emits.

What is the outlook for India’s emissions?

  • Analysis of India’s growth path points to rising GDP per capita, with a rise in carbon emissions in the short term, primarily from energy.
  • There is pressure from absolute increase in population and consumption, but population growth is slowing.

India’s major emission sources

  • In terms of sectoral GHG emissions, data from 2016 show that electricity and heat account for the highest share (1.11 billion tonnes).
  • It is followed by agriculture (704.16 million tonnes), manufacturing and construction (533.8 million tonnes), transport (265.3 million tonnes), industry (130.61 million tonnes).
  • Land-use change and forestry (126.43 million tonnes) is also a major source.
  • Other fuel use (119.04 million tonnes), buildings (109.2 million tonnes), waste (80.98 million tonnes), fugitive emissions (54.95 million tonnes) accounts for major urban sources.
  • Aviation and shipping (20.4 million tonnes) accounts for the least source of emission.

Immediate interventions that can be made

  • Legal mechanism: India needs to create a legal mandate for climate impact assessment of all activities.
  • Investment: This can facilitate investment by dedicated green funds.
  • Wholistic participation: Public sector institutions promoted by the government, co-operatives and even market mechanisms will participate.
  • Renewable energy: The 500 GW renewables target needs a major boost, such as channeling more national and international climate funding into decentralized solar power.
  • Hydrogen economy: Another emerging sector is green hydrogen production because of its potential as a clean fuel. India has a National Hydrogen Mission now in place.
  • Waste Management: India’s urban solid waste management will need to modernise to curb methane emissions from unscientific landfills.
  • Stored carbon mitigation: Preventing the release of stored carbon in the environment, such as trees and soil, has to be a net zero priority.

Role of developed countries

  • India’s argument is that it has historically been one of the lowest emitters of GHGs.
  • The impetus has to come from the developed economies that had the benefit of carbon-intensive development since the Industrial Revolution.

Way forward

  • These plans need a political consensus and support from State governments.
  • Net-zero will involve industrial renewal using green innovation, green economy support and supply chains yielding new jobs.
  • It also needs low carbon technologies, zero-emission vehicles, and renewed cities promoting walking and cycling.
  • The industry will need to make highly energy-efficient goods that last longer, and consumers should be given a legal right to repair goods they buy.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

The right time for India to have its own climate law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : COP26

Mains level : Paper 3- India needs climate laws

Context

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26, from October 31 to November 12, 2021), at Glasgow, Scotland is important as it will call for practical implementation of the 2015 Paris Accord, setting the rules for the Accord.

Indian proposals

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, on November 1 at Glasgow, a ‘Panchamrit solution’ which aims at reducing fossil fuel dependence and carbon intensity.
  • This also includes ramping up India’s renewable energy share to 50% by 2030.
  • Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav has reasserted the call for the promised $100 billion a year as support (from the developed world to the developing world).
  • But as we consider new energy pathways, we must also consider the question of climate hazard, nature-based solutions and national accountability.
  • This is the right time for India to mull setting up a climate law while staying true to its goals of climate justice, carbon space and environmental protection.

Why India needs climate law

  • There are a few reasons for this.
  • Existing laws not adequate: Our existing laws are not adequate to deal with climate change.
  • We have for example the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • Yet, climate is not exactly water or air.
  • The Environment (Protection) Act is grossly inadequate to deal with violations on climate. Clause 24 of the Act, “Effect of Other Laws”, states that if an offence is committed under the EPA or any other law, the person will be punished under the other law (for example, Code of Criminal Procedure).
  • This makes the EPA subordinate to every other law. 
  • There is a need to integrate climate action: Integration includes adaptation and mitigation — and monitoring progress.
  • Comprehensive climate action is not just technological such as changing energy sources or carbon intensity, but also nature-based such as emphasising restoration of ecosystems.
  • India’s situation is unique: Climate action cannot come by furthering sharpening divides or exacerbating poverty, and this includes our stated renewable energy goals.
  • The 500 Gigawatt by 2030 goal for renewable can put critically endangered grassland and desert birds such as the Great Indian Bustard at risk, as they die on collision with wires in the desert.

Suggestions on climate law

  • A climate law could consider two aspects.
  • Commission on climate change: Creating an institution that monitors action plans for climate change.
  • A ‘Commission on Climate Change’ could be set up, with the power and the authority to issue directions, and oversee implementation of plans and programmes on climate.
  • The Commission could have quasi-judicial powers with powers of a civil court to ensure that its directions are followed in letter and spirit.
  • System of liability and accountability: We need a system of liability and accountability at short-, medium- and long-term levels as we face hazards.
  • This also means having a legally enforceable National Climate Change Plan that goes beyond just policy guidelines.
  • A Climate Commission could ideally prevent gross negligence in fragile areas and fix accountability if it arises.

Conclusion

We have an urgent moral imperative to tackle climate change and reduce its worst impacts. But we also should Indianise the process by bringing in a just and effective law — with guts, a spine, a heart, and, most importantly, teeth.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] BASIC Countries

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BASIC Countries, Copenhagen Accord

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Environment Minister has delivered the statement on behalf of the BASIC group of countries at the UN Climate Change Conference underway at Glasgow.

Who are the BASIC Countries?

  • The BASIC countries (also Basic countries or BASIC) are a bloc of four large newly industrialized countriesBrazil, South Africa, India and China.
  • It was formed by an agreement on 28 November 2009.
  • The four committed to act jointly at the Copenhagen climate summit, including a possible united walk-out if their common minimum position was not met by the developed nations.
  • This emerging geopolitical alliance, initiated and led by China, then brokered the final Copenhagen Accord with the United States.

What is the Copenhagen Accord?

  • The Copenhagen Accord is a document signed at COP 15 to the UNFCCC on 18 December 2009.
  • The Accord states that global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C (3.6 °F).
  • It does not specify what the baseline is for these temperature targets (e.g., relative to pre-industrial or 1990 temperatures).
  • In January 2010, the Accord was described merely as a political agreement and not legally binding, as is argued by the US and Europe.
  • It is not legally binding and does not commit countries to agree to a binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose round ended in 2012.
  • According to the UNFCCC, these targets are relative to pre-industrial temperatures.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is Climate Vulnerability Index?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Climate Vulnerability Index

Mains level : Mapping India's climate change vulnerability

Environmental think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water has carried a first-of-its-kind district-level climate vulnerability assessment, or Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI).

Climate Vulnerability Index

  • The Index takes into account certain indicators when assessing the preparedness of a state or district.
  • It considers:
  1. Exposure (that is whether the district is prone to extreme weather events)
  2. Sensitivity (the likelihood of an impact on the district by the weather event)
  3. Adaptive capacity (what the response or coping mechanism of the district is)

Significance of CVI

  • CVI helps map critical vulnerabilities and plan strategies to enhance resilience and adapt by climate-proofing communities, economies and infrastructure.
  • Instead of looking at climate extremes in isolation, the study looks at the combined risk of hydro-met disasters, which is floods, cyclones and droughts, and their impact.
  • The study does not take into consideration other natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Why does India need a climate vulnerability index?

  • According to Germanwatch’s 2020 findings, India is the seventh-most vulnerable country with respect to climate extremes.
  • Extreme weather events have been increasing in the country such as supercyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal, which is now the strongest cyclone to be recorded in the country.
  • Recent events such as the landslides and floods in Uttarakhand and Kerala, have also increased in the past decade.
  • Further, the IPCC states that every degree rise in temperature will lead to a three per cent increase in precipitation, causing increased intensification of cyclones and floods.

Key findings of the CVI

According to CVI, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Bihar are most vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts and cyclones in India.

  • 183 hotspot districts are highly vulnerable to more than one extreme climate events
  • 60% of Indian districts have medium to low adaptive capacity in handing extreme weather events – these districts don’t have robust plans in place to mitigate impact
  • North-eastern states are more vulnerable to floods
  • South and central are most vulnerable to extreme droughts
  • 59 and 41 per cent of the total districts in the eastern and western states, respectively, are highly vulnerable to extreme cyclones.

Best performing states

  • Kerala and West Bengal have performed well comparatively, despite both being coastal states and dealing with the threat of cyclones and floods annually.
  • The reason why these states have performed better is that they have stepped up their climate action plans as well as preparedness to handle an extreme weather event.

Key recommendations

  • Develop a high-resolution Climate Risk Atlas (CRA) to map critical vulnerabilities
  • Establish a centralised climate-risk commission to coordinate the environmental de-risking mission.
  • Undertake climate-sensitivity-led landscape restoration focused on rehabilitating, restoring, and reintegrating natural ecosystems as part of the developmental process.
  • Integrate climate risk profiling with infrastructure planning to increase adaptive capacity.
  • Provide for climate risk-interlinked adaptation financing by creating innovative CVI-based financing instruments that integrate climate risks for an effective risk transfer mechanism.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Sundarbans among 5 sites with highest ‘Blue Carbon’ globally

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Blue carbon, Sunderbans

Mains level : Carbon sequestration

India’s Sundarbans National Park is among five sites that have the highest blue carbon stocks globally, according to a new assessment.

Highlights of the study

  • ‘World Heritage forests’ are now releasing more carbon than they are absorbing, primarily due to human activity and climate change, according to the assessment.
  • UNESCO lists 50 sites across the globe for their unique marine values. These represent just one per cent of the global ocean area.
  • But they comprise at least 15 per cent of global blue carbon assests.

Try this question from CSP 2021:

Q. What is blue carbon?

(a) Carbon captured by oceans and coastal ecosystems

(b) Carbon sequestered in forest biomass and agricultural soils

(c) Carbon contained in petroleum and natural gas

(d) Carbon present in atmosphere

 

Post your answers here.
7
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Carbon capacity of Sundarbans

  • The Sundarbans National Park has stores of 60 million tonnes of carbon (Mt C).
  • The other four sites besides the Sundarbans National Park in India are:
  1. Bangladeshi portion of the Sundarbans (110 Mt C)
  2. Great Barrier Reef in Australia (502 Mt C)
  3. Everglades National Park in the US (400 Mt C) and
  4. Banc d’Arguin National Park in Mauritania (110 Mt C)

About Sundarbans

  • Sundarbans is the largest delta and mangrove forest in the world.
  • The Indian Sunderbans, which covers 4,200 sq km, comprises of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq km is home to about 96 Royal Bengal Tigers (2020) is also a world heritage site and a Ramsar Site.
  • The Indian Sunderbans is bound on the west by river Muriganga and on the east by rivers Harinbhahga and Raimangal.
  • Other major rivers flowing through this eco-system are Saptamukhi, Thakuran, Matla and Goasaba.

Worrying scenario

  • The researchers found that 10 of 257 forests emitted more carbon than they captured between 2001 and 2020.
  • The reasons for included clearance of land for agriculture, the increasing scale and severity of wildfires due to drought as well as extreme weather phenomena.
  • The 10 sites are:
  1. Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Indonesia)
  2. Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)
  3. Yosemite National Park (US)
  4. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (Canada, US)
  5. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains (South Africa)
  6. Kinabalu Park (Malaysia)
  7. Uvs Nuur Basin (Russian Federation, Mongolia)
  8. Grand Canyon National Park (US)
  9. Greater Blue Mountains Area (Australia)
  10. Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)

(Try mapping these sites)


Back2Basics: Types of Carbon

  • Brown Carbon: It is brown smoke released by the combustion of organic matter.
  • Black Carbon: It is also a greenhouse gas and causes more pollution than Brown Carbon. The particles leftover from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (soot and dust). It has a greater effect on radiation transmission.
  • Green Carbon: Carbon incorporated into plant biomass and the soils below. Green carbon is carbon removed by photosynthesis and stored in the plants and soil of natural ecosystems.
  • Blue Carbon: Blue Carbon refers to coastal, aquatic and marine carbon sinks held by the indicative vegetation, marine organism and sediments.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Arctic ice is disappearing: How clouds interact with sea ice change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Polynya

Mains level : Glaciers retreat at the Poles

Temperatures in the Arctic, for example, have been rising much faster than the rest of the planet. Experts, for the longest time, have attributed the crisis to how clouds interact with sea ice, essentially frozen seawater.

Role of Polynya

  • Decades of research have pointed that the losses in Arctic Sea ice cover allow for the formation of more clouds near the ocean’s surface.
  • New research by NASA has now shown that more heat and moisture is released through a large hole in sea ice called a polynya, which fuels the formation of more clouds.
  • This traps heat in the atmosphere and hinders the refreezing of new sea ice.

What is Polynya?

  • A polynya is an area of open water surrounded by sea ice.
  • It is now used as a geographical term for an area of unfrozen seawater within otherwise contiguous pack ice or fast ice.
  • It refers to a natural ice hole and was adopted in the 19th century by polar explorers to describe navigable portions of the sea.
  • There are two main types of polynyas:
  1. Coastal polynyas, which can be found year-round near the Antarctic and Arctic coasts and are mainly created by strong winds pushing the ice away from the coast, and
  2. Mid-sea or open-ocean polynyas, which may be found more sporadically in the middle of an ice pack in certain locations, especially around Antarctica.

What is the new research about?

  • The research stated that low clouds over the polynya emitted more energy or heat than clouds in adjacent areas covered by sea ice.
  • The polynya did refreeze, but only after the increased cloud cover and heat under the clouds persisted for about a week.
  • The extra clouds and increased cloud radiative effect to the surface remained for some time after the polynya froze.
  • The sea ice acts like a cap or a barrier between the relatively warm ocean surface and the cold and dry atmosphere above, so more heat and moisture from the ocean into the atmosphere.
  • This warming slows down the growth of the sea ice.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Thawing Permafrost

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Permafrost

Mains level : Thawing of Permafrost

The latest IPCC report has warned that increasing global warming will result in reductions in Arctic permafrost and the thawing of the ground is expected to release greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

What is Permafrost?

  • ‘Permafrost’ or permanently frozen ground is land that has been frozen at or below 0 degrees Celsius for two or more consecutive years.
  • A staggering 17 per cent of Earth’s entire exposed land surface is comprised of permafrost.
  • Composed of rock, sediments, dead plant and animal matter, soil, and varying degrees of ice, permafrost is mainly found near the poles, covering parts of Greenland, Alaska, Northern Canada, Siberia and Scandinavia.
  • The Arctic region is a vast ocean, covered by thick ice on the surface (called sea ice), surrounded by land masses that are also covered with snow and ice.

Permafrost thawing

  • When permafrost thaws, water from the melted ice makes its way to the caves along with ground sediments, and deposits on the rocks.
  • In other words, when permafrost thaws, the rocks grow and when permafrost is stable and frozen, they do not grow.

Why thawing?

  • The link between the Siberian permafrost and Arctic sea ice can be explained by two factors:
  • One is heat transport from the open Arctic Ocean into Siberia, making the Siberian climate warmer.
  • The second is moisture transport from open seawater into Siberia, leading to thicker snow cover that insulates the ground from cold winter air, contributing to its warming.
  • This is drastically different from the situation just a couple of decades ago when the sea ice acted as a protective layer, maintaining cold temperatures in the region and shielding the permafrost from the moisture from the ocean.
  • If sea ice (in the summer) is gone, permafrost start thawing.

Impact on Climate Change

  • Due to relentlessly rising temperatures in the region, since the late-twentieth century, the Arctic sea ice and surrounding land ice are melting at accelerating rates.
  • When permafrost thaws due to rising temperatures, the microbes in the soil decompose the dead organic matter (plants and animals) to produce methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), both potent greenhouse gases.
  • CH4 is at least 80 times more powerful than CO2 on a decadal timescale and around 25 times more powerful on a century timescale.
  • The greenhouse gases produced from thawing permafrost will further increase temperatures which will, in turn, lead to more permafrost thawing, forming an unstoppable and irreversible self-reinforcing feedback loop.
  • Experts believe this process may have already begun. Giant craters and ponds of water (called ‘thermokarst lakes’) formed due to thawing have been recorded in the Arctic region. Some are so big that they can be seen from space.

Why a matter of concern?

  • An estimated 1,700 billion tonnes — twice the amount currently present in the atmosphere — of carbon is locked in all of the world’s permafrost.
  • Even if half of that were to be released to the atmosphere, it would be game over for the climate.
  • Scientific estimates suggest that the Arctic Ocean could be largely sea ice-free in the summer months by as early as 2030, based on observational trends, or as late as 2050, based on climate model projections.

Potential to cause another pandemic

Ans. Permafrost has many secrets.

  • When the permafrost was formed thousands of years ago, there weren’t many humans who lived in that region which was necessarily very cold.
  • Researchers recently found mammoths in the permafrost in Russia.
  • And some of these mammoth carcasses when they begin to degrade again may reveal bacteria that were frozen thousands of years ago.
  • So there will be surprises. But whether they will be lethal surprises is just not possible to say.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Qeqertaq Avannarleq Island

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Qeqertaq Avannarleq

Mains level : Impact of climate change

A group of researchers who went out to collect samples off the coast of Greenland in July found themselves on a tiny, uninhabited and previously unknown island.

Qeqertaq Avannarleq

  • Measuring 60×30 metres and with a peak of three metres above sea level, it has now become the new northernmost piece of land on Earth.
  • Before this, Oodaaq was marked as the Earth’s northernmost terrain.
  • The new island is made up of seabed mud and moraine, i.e. soil, rock and other material left behind by moving glaciers, and has no vegetation.
  • The group has suggested the discovery be named ‘Qeqertaq Avannarleq’, which is Greenlandic for “the northernmost island”.

How this island came to existence?

Ans. Undoubtedly, climate change in Greenland

  • Global warming has had a severe effect on the ice sheet of Greenland.
  • The new island, which was exposed by shifting pack ice, is, however, not a direct consequence of climate change.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India must commit to net zero emissions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Net zero emission issue

Mains level : Paper 3- Net zero emission commitment

Context

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Glasgow is shaping up to be the most important climate meeting since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

What are net-zero emissions?

Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. This can be done by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal or by eliminating emissions from society.

Increase in pace and scale of climate action

  • Over 50% of the global economy is already committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
  • Over 100 countries have already committed to net zero emissions by 2050, with more expected at COP26.
  • The pace and scale of climate action are only set to increase, with the recent IPCC report unequivocal on the need for urgent and stronger responses.
  • It is not only governments that are increasing climate action. The business world is too, not just to protect themselves against the risks of climate change but also to take advantage of the massive opportunities arising as the global economy shifts to net-zero emissions.

Why India should commit to a net-zero target

  • National interest due to vulnerability: India itself has a national interest in ambitious global and national climate action.
  • It is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and, therefore, should be among the more active against the threats.
  • Influence as a rising power: Second, as a rising power, India naturally seeks stronger influence globally.
  • Being an outlier on the global challenge facing our generation does not support this aim.
  • Drag on international diplomacy: India’s reluctance to commit to net-zero will become a significant drag on India’s international diplomacy.
  • This applies not just to key relationships like with the U.S., but also with much of the Group of 77 (G77) states, who are increasingly concerned to see climate action, and in multilateral groupings such as the United Nations and ASEAN-APEC.
  • Interconnected with the economy: There is no longer a trade-off between reducing emissions and economic growth.
  • For example, the U.K. has reduced emissions by over 40% and grown its economy by over 70% since 1990.
  • Solar energy costs have fallen 90% in recent years, providing the cheapest electricity in India ever seen.
  • Also, given the negative impacts, addressing climate change in India’s economic development is now central to success, not an added luxury to consider.
  • The transition of the global economy to net zero emissions is the biggest commercial opportunity in history.
  • In just the energy sector alone, an estimated $1.6 to $3.8 trillion of investment is required every year until 2050.

India’s climate actions

  • India is set to significantly exceed its Paris Agreement commitment of reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Emphasis on renewable: India is impressing the world with its leading roll-out of renewable energy and target for 450GW by 2030, linked to its leadership on the International Solar Alliance and recent national hydrogen strategy.
  • Corporates: Indian corporates are also stepping up, with the Tata Group winning awards on sustainability, Mahindra committing to net-zero by 2040, and Reliance by 2035.
  • Notwithstanding reasonable arguments about historical responsibility, per capita emissions, and equity, India’s national interests in climate action are now engaged in ways that go significantly beyond waiting for donor support to drive ambition.

The way forward: International cooperation

  • The world needs to work together for success in the form of stronger political engagement, policy support in areas of mutual challenge such as energy policy, carbon markets, and economic recovery.
  • Practical support and cooperation in areas like renewable energy and integrating it with the national grid, zero-emissions transport, decarbonising hard to abate sectors like steel, cement, and chemicals, and decarbonising agriculture offer significant scope to raise ambition.
  • As does working with India on innovative green financing for decarbonizing investment.

Conclusion

India’s tryst with destiny rests in its own remarkable hands, as it always has been. In a land where the earth is called mother, and Mahatma Gandhi, major religions, and the Constitution enshrine environmental care, commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 should almost be foretold.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

 

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mumbai Climate Action Plan

Mains level : Sea level rise and threats to coastal cities

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is drafting a Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP) in a bid to tackle climate challenges.

What is the Mumbai Climate Action Plan?

  • Amid warnings of climate change leading to extreme weather events in the city, the civic body has started preparing the Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP).
  • It will look at climate resilience with mitigation and adaptation strategies by focusing on six areas —
  1. Sustainable waste management
  2. Urban greening and Biodiversity
  3. Urban flooding and Water Resource Management
  4. Building Energy Efficiency
  5. Air Quality and
  6. Sustainable Mobility
  • The plan is expected to be ready by November ahead of the United Nations Climate Change (COP26) conference at Glasgow, Scotland.

Why does Mumbai need a climate action plan?

Mumbai’s climate action plan will help set a vision and implement strategies to fight these climate challenges with mitigation and adaptation steps.

  • Flash floods: As per a study conducted by the World Resource Institute (WRI) India, the city will face two major climate challenges — the rise in temperature, and extreme rain events which will lead to flooding.
  • Temperature rise: The city has seen a constant rise in temperature after 2007, and a substantial increase in intense rainfall and storm events in the last five years.
  • Sea level rise: A recent report from the IPCC has warned that at least 12 Indian coastal cities including Mumbai will face a sea rise of 0.1 metres to 0.3 metres in the next three decades due to climate change.

What is the greenhouse gas emission of the city?

  • The data show that Mumbai’s greenhouse gas emission was 34.3 million tonnes in 2019, and of which 24.23 million tonnes or 71 per cent came from the energy sector which is mainly based on coal.
  • At least 24 per cent or 82,21,902 tonnes is from transport, and the remaining 5 per cent or 18,53,741 tonnes from solid waste management.
  • The maximum contribution from the energy sector was mainly due to domestic and commercial usage of electricity.
  • As per the data, 95 percent of Mumbai’s electricity is coal-based and needs to be shifted to renewable energy to bring down emissions.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India &Arctic ocean

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arctic Council

Mains level : Geopolitics of the Arctic

It is tempting to view the current geopolitics of the Arctic through the lenses of the ‘great power competition’ and inevitable conflict of interests.

Current geopolitical scenario in the Arctic: US-Russia Spat

  • It is mainly viewed as the growing tensions between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and Russia.
  • By the end of the Cold War, the geopolitical tensions and security concerns in the Arctic were almost forgotten.
  • The perceived ‘harmony’ was broken in 2007, when the Russian explorers planted their flag on the seabed 4,200m (13,779ft) below the North Pole to articulate Moscow’s claims in the Arctic.
  • This move was certainly viewed as provocative by other Arctic State.
  • The regional tension increased after the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2014.
  • Consequently, relations between the U.S. and Russia reached their lowest point again.

Note: Five Arctic littoral states — Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia and the USA (Alaska) — and three other Arctic nations — Finland, Sweden and Iceland — form the Arctic Council (estd. 1996).

Try mapping them.

Caution: India became an Observer in the Arctic Council for the first time in 2013. And, India isn’t a full-time observer.

China’s vested interests in Arctic

  • China, for example, with its self-proclaimed status of a ‘near Arctic state’, has been actively engaged in various projects across the region.
  • The importance of the Arctic region for China mostly stems from its energy security issues and the need to diversify shipping lanes.

Why China focuses on Arctic?

  • Transport routes from China to Europe through the Arctic are not only much shorter but also free from the challenges associated with the Malacca Strait and South China Sea.
  • In the latter case, China will continue facing a backlash from many Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, supported by US forces and Quad.

Impact of Climate change on Arctic

  • The Arctic is warming nearly twice as fast as the rest of the planet with consecutive record-breaking warm years since 2014.
  • The Arctic is likely to begin experiencing ice-free summers within the next decade, with summers likely to be completely free of sea ice by mid-century.

Conclusion

  • Given the significance of the region, the Arctic will continue to draw increased attention.
  • Hence, countries should refrain from mutual provocations, excessive militarisation, and quid pro quo tactics.
  • All Arctic actors should have a long-term vision and strategic goals as compared to immediate short-term gains.
  • Instead of creating a potential battleground that is reminiscent of the Cold War, the parties concerned should utilise their expertise and create the required synergy to achieve shared goals.
  • Climate change and its dramatic consequences must be a catalyst for Arctic cooperation.

Back2Basics: Arctic Council

  • It is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and indigenous groups as per the Ottawa Declaration of 1996.
  • Its focus is on sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic.
  • The Arctic Council consists of the eight Arctic States: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
  • In 2013, six Observers joined the Arctic Council, including China, Japan, India, Italy, South Korea, and Singapore, bringing their total number to 13.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Melting of the Greenland’s Snow Cover

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Greenland

Mains level : Not Much

Recently the summit of Greenland received rain and not snow. This has sparked fear as scientists are pointing to it as evidence that Greenland is warming rapidly.

About Greenland

  • Greenland is the world’s largest island located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
  • It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
  • Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers).
  • The majority of its residents are Inuit, whose ancestors migrated from Alaska through Northern Canada, gradually settling across the island by the 13th century.
  • It has three-quarters of its surface covered with a permanent ice sheet, which is increasingly coming under threat because of climate change.

Rain at Greenland: The rarest phenomenon

  • At the highest point on Greenland’s ice sheet, the US maintains a Summit Station, a research facility that observes changes occurring over the island as well as in Arctic weather.
  • Researchers observed rain at the normally frigid summit, with the precipitation extending up to Greenland’s southeast coast.
  • The rain, coupled with warm conditions, caused a major melting event at the summit.
  • This led to rapid ice melting running off into the ocean in volumes, thus accelerating global sea-level rise.

A cause of worry

  • Greenland, which is two-thirds the size of India, already witnessed one of its most severe melting events.
  • It has lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass in one day– the third such extreme event in the past decade.
  • The UN’s “code red” climate report released last week concluded that the burning of fossil fuels led to Greenland melting in the last 20 years.
  • The rapid melting is also threatening polar bears, which now have to make their way hundreds of kilometers towards Greenland’s interior from the coasts, where they usually find enough food.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

The message from the IPCC report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IPCC

Mains level : Paper 3- What IPCC report seeks to convery

Context

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). It is the first of four that the Panel will issue over the next one and a half years.

What does the report say?

  • Global surface temperature is now higher by 1.07oC since the pre-industrial era.
  • The impact of climate change on the atmosphere, oceans and land is unmistakably of human origin and this impact is picking up pace.
  • Carbon dioxide is the dominant source of warming.
  • Aerosols contribute to reducing the impact of warming by other greenhouse gases, by almost a third.
  • Methane reduction, while needed overall, is particularly significant only as part of the endgame as the drastic reduction of aerosols actually leads to an increase in warming.
  • The report expectedly projects an increase in climate extremes due to global warming, with heatwaves, extreme rainfall events and occurrence of extreme sea levels all expected to intensify and be more frequent.
  • A major finding of the report is that air pollution reduction and steep climate change mitigation are not complementary goals but require independent efforts over the short and medium-term
  • With the inclusion of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s Earth System Model among the climate models used in AR6, India too has joined the climate modelling fraternity.

About the net-zero emission targets

  •  The report’s clear message is that reaching net zero was not the determining factor for the world to limit itself to a 1.5oC , or 2oC, or indeed any specific temperature increase.
  • The report is clear that it is the cumulative emissions in reaching net zero that determine the temperature rise.
  • India’s Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change was quick to note this point about net zero in a statement, adding that “historical cumulative emissions are the cause of the climate crisis that the world faces today
  • The limitations of the remaining carbon budget for 1.5oC are so stringent — a mere 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide for an even chance of keeping to the limit — that they cannot be met by promises of net-zero 30 years from now.
  • Equally, the disconcerting finding is that the world is set to cross the 1.5oC limit within 10-15 years.

Implications for India

  •  India has contributed less than 5% of global cumulative emissions to date, with per capita annual emissions a third of the global average.
  • India is also the only nation among the G20 with commitments under the Paris Agreement that are even 2oC warming-compatible.
  • India needs its development space urgently to cope with the future, one where global temperature increase may be closer to 2oC.
  • Even if India completely stops its emission which is 3 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent terms, for the next 30 years, with others’ emissions remaining the same, will buy the world less than two years of additional time for meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

Way forward

  • Equity: Focusing on definite cumulative emission targets keeping equity and historical responsibility in view,
  • Immediate reduction by developed countries: Immediate emission reductions by the developed countries with phase-out dates for all fossil fuels.
  • Investment: Massive investment in new technologies and their deployment,
  • Climate finance: a serious push to the mobilisation of adequate climate finance is the need of the hour.

Conclusion

This is the message that the IPCC report has sent to this year’s climate summit and the world. The message is a dire warning, all the stakeholders should heed the warning.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Net-zero emission targets do little to retard carbon grab

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Climate change and climate politics

Context

Earlier this week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported on climate science, warning against the folly of a business-as-usual development model.

What does science say about future pathways

  • Globally, average surface temperatures have already risen by 1.09°C between 1850-1900 and 2010-2019.
  • What happens next depends on our development and technological choices.
  • High fossil fuel use path: As per the the IPCC document, if we followed high fossil fuel development (doubling emissions by 2050), temperatures would rise by 4.4°C (range of 3.3-5.7°C) by 2100.
  • Sustainable pathways: If a more sustainable pathway were pursued average global temperature rise would be 1.4°C (range of 1.0-1.8°C).
  • Regardless, it is likely that the average rise in temperatures will breach the 1.5°C barrier within the next two decades.
  • If emissions are not mitigated rapidly, we are staring at rising climate risks and catastrophic impacts.
  • Human influence is very likely the main reason behind glacial retreat since the 1990s.
  • Since observations began, glaciers have lost the maximum mass during 2010-19.
  • Sea level rise: Even with warming restricted to 1.5°C, we are still on course for more than 2 metres of sea-level rise beyond this century.

India’s vulnerability to climate change

  • If warming exceeds 4°C, India could see about 40% increase in precipitation annually, leading to extreme rainfall events.
  • Three-quarters of India’s districts are now hotspots of extreme weather events.
  • Since 1990, more than 300 such events have resulted in damages exceeding INR 5.6 lakh crore.

Changes needed to stabilise temperature rise

  • The IPCC says that in order to stabilise rise in temperatures, two things have to happen:
  • 1) Anthropogenic emissions must become net-zero.
  • 2) In the interim cumulative emissions cannot exceed a global carbon budget.
  • Carbon Budget: To stay within the 1.5°C limit, starting in 2020 the remaining global carbon budget is 300-500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) (with a likelihood of 50%-83%).

Unjust climate politics and net-zero emission targets

  • Of late, several large emitters have promised net-zero emission targets. 
  • CEEW analysts calculate that despite their self-laudatory targets, China would consume 87% of the global carbon space (if it reached net-zero in 2060) and the US would eat up 26% (if it reached net-zero in 2050).
  • Mere announcements of net-zero targets do little to retard the “carbon grab” of the largest emitters.
  •  Rich countries, as a whole, emitted ~25 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) more than their estimated emission allowance during 2008-20, thanks to non-participation in pre-2020 climate agreements and misuse of accounting loopholes. 
  • Climate justice demands that developed countries now take steps to free up carbon space for others.

Way forward for India

  • India must adopt a more climate-friendly development pathway for its own sake.
  • Its per capita incomes, energy consumption and carbon footprint are well below the global average but it must deliver high rates of economic growth within a shrinking carbon budget.
  • Shift discourse to economy: The discourse must shift from energy to the economy.
  • There are very few sunrise sectors that are not low-carbon.
  • India must tap new technology frontiers (green hydrogen), new business models (distributed and digitalised services, for distributed energy, EV charging, cold chains), new construction materials (low-carbon cement, recycled plastic), new opportunities in the circular economy of minerals, municipal waste and agricultural residue, and new practices for sustainable agriculture and food systems.
  • Policy and regulatory support: Many of above technologies and business models are proven but need policy and regulatory support.

Conclusion

The climate crisis is a strategic threat to our development prospects. It deserves sober, continuing analysis, deliberation and action. The headlines look bad; reality will get worse.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)

Mains level : Assessing Climate Change impact

According to the IPCC’s Report (AR6), the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), is losing its stability.

What is AMOC?

  • The AMOC is a large system of ocean currents.
  • It is the Atlantic branch of the ocean conveyor belt or Thermohaline circulation (THC), and distributes heat and nutrients throughout the world’s ocean basins.
  • AMOC carries warm surface waters from the tropics towards the Northern Hemisphere, where it cools and sinks.
  • It then returns to the tropics and then to the South Atlantic as a bottom current. From there it is distributed to all ocean basins via the Antarctic circumpolar current.
  • Gulf Stream, a part of the AMOC, is a warm current responsible for mild climate at the Eastern coast of North America as well as Europe.

What happens if AMOC collapses?

  • Colder Europe: Without a proper AMOC and Gulf Stream, Europe will be very cold.
  • Rainfall decline: Modelling studies have shown that an AMOC shutdown would cool the northern hemisphere and decrease rainfall over Europe.
  • El-Nino trigger: It can also have an effect on the El Nino.
  • Cooling of Atlantic: AMOC collapse could bring about large, markedly different climate responses: a prominent cooling over the northern North Atlantic and neighboring areas.
  • Weaker thermohaline: Freshwater from melting Greenland ice sheets and the Arctic region can make circulation weaker as it is not as dense as salt water and doesn’t sink to the bottom.

Has the AMOC weakened before?

  • AMOC and THC strength has always been fluctuating, mainly if you look at the late Pleistocene time period (last 1 million years).
  • The extreme glacial stages have seen weaker circulation and slowdown in AMOC, while the glacial terminations have shown a stronger AMOC and circulation.
  • AMOC has been relatively stable until the late 19th century.
  • With the end of the little ice age in about 1850, the ocean currents began to decline, with a second, more drastic decline following since the mid-20th century.

Why is the AMOC slowing down?

  • Climate models have long predicted that global warming can cause a weakening of the major ocean systems of the world.
  • Last month researchers noted that a part of the Arctic’s ice called “Last Ice Area” has also melted.
  • The freshwater from the melting ice reduces the salinity and density of the water. Now, the water is unable to sink as it used to and weakens the AMOC flow.

Influence of Indian Ocean

  • Another study suggested that the Indian Ocean may also be helping the slowing down of AMOC.
  • As the Indian Ocean warms faster and faster, it generates additional precipitation.
  • With so much precipitation in the Indian Ocean, there will be less precipitation in the Atlantic Ocean, leading to higher salinity in the waters of the tropical portion of the Atlantic.
  • This saltier water in the Atlantic, as it comes north via AMOC, will get cold much quicker than usual and sink faster.
  • This acts as a jump start for AMOC, intensifying the circulation.

Now try this:

Q.With reference to Ocean Mean Temperature (OMT), which of the following statements is/are correct? (CSP 2020)

  1. OMT is measured up to a depth of 26ºC isotherm which is 129 meters in the south-western Indian Ocean during January-March.
  2. OMT collected during January-March can be used in assessing whether the amount of rainfall in monsoon will be less or more than a certain long-term mean.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Post your answers here:
2
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Back2Basics:  Ocean Currents

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Net-Zero Concept in Climate Change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Net Zero

Mains level : Global rush for carbon neutrality

Independent charitable organization Oxfam has said that ‘net zero’ carbon targets that many countries have announced maybe a “dangerous distraction” from the priority of cutting carbon emissions.

What does Net-Zero mean?

  • Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero.
  • That would be gross-zero, which means reaching a state where there are no emissions at all, a scenario hard to comprehend.
  • Therefore, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Achieving net-zero targets

  • One way by which carbon can be absorbed is by creating carbon sinks.
  • Until recently, the Amazon rainforests in South America, which are the largest tropical forests in the world, were carbon sinks.
  • But eastern parts of these forests have started emitting CO2 instead of absorbing carbon emissions as a result of significant deforestation.

What’s the difference between gross zero and net zero?

  • Given the impact that carbon emissions have on our planet, you might wonder why we aren’t aiming for zero, or gross zero, rather than net-zero.
  • Gross zero would mean stopping all emissions, which isn’t realistically attainable across all sectors of our lives and industry. Even with best efforts to reduce them, there will still be some emissions.
  • Net-zero looks at emissions overall, allowing for the removal of any unavoidable emissions, such as those from aviation or manufacturing.
  • Removing greenhouse gases could be via nature, as trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or through new technology or changing industrial processes.

What is carbon negativity?

  • It is even possible for a country to have negative emissions if the absorption and removal exceed the actual emissions.
  • Bhutan has negative emissions because it absorbs more than it emits.

Which countries have recently announced net-zero targets?

  • In 2019, the New Zealand government passed the Zero Carbon Act, which committed the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.
  • In the same year, the UK’s parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100 per cent relative to 1990 levels by the year 2050.
  • More recently, US announced that the country will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • The European Union too, has a similar plan, called “Fit for 55”, the European Commission has asked all of its 27 member countries to cut emissions by 55 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Last year, China also announced that it would become net-zero by the year 2060 and that it would not allow its emissions to peak beyond what they are in 2030.

What does the Oxfam report say?

  • “Land-hungry ‘net zero’ schemes could force an 80 per cent rise in global food prices and more hunger while allowing rich nations and corporates to continue “dirty business-as-usual”.
  • The report says that if the challenge of change is tackled only by way of planting more trees, then about 1.6 billion hectares of new forests would be required to remove the world’s excess carbon by 2050.
  • Currently, countries’ plans to cut emissions will only lead to a one percent reduction by the year 2030.
  • Oxfam estimates that it could rise by 80 percent by the year 2050.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Great Barrier Reef

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Great Barrier Reef

Mains level : Coral Reefs and their significance

Chinese official has said that political tensions between Beijing and Australia were not behind a UNESCO recommendation to place the Great Barrier Reef on its endangered list.

Great Barrier Reef

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
  • It is stretched for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres.
  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
  • It was world heritage listed in 1981 by UNESCO as the most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet.

Importance of Corals

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth.

  • They support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species.
  • This biodiversity is considered key to finding new medicines for the 21st century.
  • Medical use: Many drugs are now being developed from coral reef animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.
  • Fisheries: Healthy coral reefs support commercial and subsistence fisheries as well as jobs and businesses through tourism and recreation.
  • Local economies receive billions of dollars from visitors to reefs through diving tours, recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses based near reef ecosystems.
  • Coral reef structures also buffer shorelines against 97 per cent of the energy from waves, storms, and floods, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Most of the world’s coral reefs are in tropical waters.
  2. More than one-third of the world’s coral reefs are located in the territories of Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  3. Coral reefs host far more number of animal phyla than those hosted by tropical rainforests.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1 and 3 only


Back2Basisc: Coral Reef

  • Coral reefs are built by and made up of thousands of tiny animals—coral “polyps”—that are related to anemones and jellyfish.
  • Polyps are shallow-water organisms that have a soft body covered by a calcareous skeleton. The polyps extract calcium salts from seawater to form these hard skeletons.
  • The polyps live in colonies fastened to the rocky seafloor.
  • The tubular skeletons grow upwards and outwards as a cemented calcareous rocky mass collectively called corals.
  • When the coral polyps die, they shed their skeleton on which new polyps grow.
  • The cycle is repeated for millions of years leading to the accumulation of layers of corals shallow rock created by these depositions is called a reef.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Why the Amazon forests are no longer acting as a carbon sink

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Amazon forests

Mains level : Climate Change

The Amazon forests in South America, which are the largest tropical forests in the world, have started emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of absorbing carbon emissions.

Note the countries bordered by the Amazon forests.

Amazon forests

  • The Amazon rainforest is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America.
  • This basin encompasses 7,000,000 sq km of which 5,500,000 sq km are covered by the rainforest.
  • The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.
  • It represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world.

Why in news?

  • A significant amount of deforestation in eastern and southeastern Brazil has turned the forest into a source of CO2 that has the ability to warm the planet.
  • Not only the Amazon rainforests, some forests in Southeast Asia have also turned into carbon sources in the last few years as a result of the formation of plantations and fires.

What have the researchers found?

  • Over the years as fossil-fuel emissions across the world have increased, the Amazon forests have absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere, helping to moderate the global climate.
  • But researchers are not saying that because of significant levels of deforestation (over the course of 40 years) there has been a long-term decrease in rainfall and increase in temperatures during the dry season.
  • Because of these reasons the eastern Amazon forests are no longer carbon sinks, whereas the more intact and wetter forests in the central and western parts are neither carbon sinks nor are they emitters.
  • Another reason for the eastern region not being able to absorb as much CO2 as it did previously is the conversion of forests into agricultural land.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Arctic’s ‘Last Ice Area’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Last Ice Area

Mains level : Climate Change

A part of the Arctic’s ice called the “Last Ice Area”, located north of Greenland, has melted before expected. Scientists had believed this area was strong enough to withstand global warming.

What is the Last Ice Area?

  • In an article published in 2015, National Geographic noted that climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic by the year 2040.
  • However, the only place that would be able to withstand a warming climate would be this area of ice called the “Last Ice Area”.
  • But while this piece of ice above northern Canada and Greenland was expected to last the longest time, it is now showing signs of melting.
  • WWF claims that WWF-Canada was the first to call this area the‘ Last Ice Area’.

Why is the area important?

  • The area is important because it was thought to be able to help ice-dependent species as ice in the surrounding areas melted away.
  • The area is used by polar bears to hunt for seals who use ice to build dens for their offspring.
  • Walruses too, use the surface of the ice for food search.

When did the area start changing?

  • The first sign of change in LIA was observed in 2018.
  • Further, in August last year, sea ice showed its “vulnerability” to the long-term effects of climate change.
  • The ice in LIA has been thinning gradually over the years much like other parts of the Arctic Ocean.

What are the reasons that explain the change?

  • About 80 per cent of thinning can be attributed to weather-related factors such as winds that break up and move the ice around.
  • The remaining 20 per cent can be attributed to the longer-term thinning of the ice due to global warming.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is the ‘Heat Dome’ causing record temperatures in USA?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Heat Dome

Mains level : Rising events of heatwave

A US city has recorded the highest temperatures as high as 46-degree Celsius part due to the historic heatwave that lasted as a result of a phenomenon referred to as a “heat dome”.

What is a Heat Dome?

  • To understand what causes a heat dome, one should liken the Pacific Ocean to a large swimming pool in which the heater is turned on.
  • Once the heater is on, the portions of the pool close to the heating jets will warm up faster and therefore, the temperature in that area will be higher.
  • In the same way, the western Pacific ocean’s temperatures have increased in the past few decades and are relatively more than the temperature in the eastern Pacific.
  • This strong change in ocean temperature from the west to the east is what a team of scientists believe is the reason for the heat dome.
  • This occurs when the atmosphere traps heat at the surface, which encourages the formation of a heatwave.
  • To compare, the reason that the planet Venus is the hottest in the Solar System is that its thick, dense cloud cover traps the heat at the surface, leading to temperatures as high as 471 degrees Celsius.

Is this heat wave a result of climate change?

  • It cannot be said for sure if the heatwave is a direct result of global warming.
  • Scientists are usually wary of linking climate change to any contemporary event mainly because of the difficulty in completely ruling out the possibility of the event having been caused by some other reason.
  • Similarly, scientists who have been studying the climate tend to agree that the heat waves occurring today are more likely to be a result of climate change for which humans are responsible.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Jet streams occur in the Northern Hemisphere only.
  2. Only some cyclones develop an eye.
  3. The temperature inside the eye of a cyclone is nearly 100C lesser than that of the surroundings.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] Glacial Lake Atlas of Ganga River Basin

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Glacial Lake Atlas

Mains level : Not Much

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has released the Glacial Lake Atlas of Ganga Basin.

Glacial Lake Atlas

  • The atlas is based on the inventoried glacial lakes in part of the Ganga River basin from its origin to the foothills of the Himalayas covering a catchment area of 2,47,109 sq. km.
  • The study portion of the Ganga River basin covers part of India and the transboundary region.
  • The Atlas is available on National Hydrology Project or NHP-Bhuvan Portal.
  • It can be used by water resources professionals, researchers, disaster management authorities and other stakeholders for managing the glacial lakes as well as to mitigate the possible adverse impacts of GLOF and climate change.

Expected utility of the atlas is:

  • The atlas provides a comprehensive and systematic glacial lake database for Ganga River basin with size > 0.25 ha
  • In the context of climate change impact analysis, the atlas can be used as reference data for carrying out change analysis, both with respect to historical and future time periods
  • The atlas also provides authentic database for regular or periodic monitoring changes in spatial extent (expansion/shrinkage), and formation of new lakes
  • The atlas can also be used in conjunction with glacier information for their retreat and climate impact studies.
  • The information on glacial lakes like their type, hydrological, topographical, and associated glaciers are useful in identifying the potential critical glacial lakes and consequent GLOF risk.
  • Central and State Disaster Management Authorities can make use of the atlas for disaster mitigation planning and related program.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following Pairs :

Glacier: River

  1. Bandarpunch : Yamuna
  2. Bara Shigri : Chenab
  3. Milam : Mandakini
  4. Siachen : Nubra
  5. Zemu : Manas

Which of the following pairs given above are correctly matched? (CSP 2019)

(a) 1,2 and 4

(b) 1,3 and 4

(c) 2 and 5

(d) 3 and 5

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Yellowstone National Park

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Yellowstone National Park

Mains level : NA

A new assessment of climate change in the Yellowstone National Park shows that it has lost a quarter of its annual snowfall.

Yellowstone National Park

  • Yellowstone NP is an American national park located in the western United States, largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending into Montana and Idaho.
  • Yellowstone was the first national park in the US and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world.
  • The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular.
  • While it represents many types of biomes, the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.
  • The area also represents the one point where the three major river basins of the western U.S. converge.
  • The rivers of the Snake-Columbia basin, Green-Colorado basin, and Missouri River Basin all begin as snow on the Continental Divide as it weaves across Yellowstone’s peaks and plateaus.

Impact of climate change

  • Since 1950, average temperatures in the Greater Yellowstone Area have risen 1.3°C and potentially, more importantly, the region has lost a quarter of its annual snowfall.
  • The loss of snow there has repercussions for a vast range of ecosystems and wildlife, as well as cities and farms downstream that rely on rivers that start in these mountains.
  • It is home to the southernmost range of grizzly bear populations in North America and some of the longest intact wildlife migrations, including the seasonal traverses of elk, pronghorn, mule deer and bison.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following pairs:

River                              Flows into

1. Mekong –                   Andaman Sea

  1. Thames –                     Irish Sea
  2. Volga –                     Caspian Sea
  3. Zambezi –                  Indian Ocean

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2020)

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 3 and 4 only

(d) 1,2 and 4 only

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What the G7 message on net-zero emissions means for India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Net-zero emission targets and G-7

The article highlights G-7 countries’ emphasis on adoption of net-zero emission target and its implications for India.

Shifting responsibility to developing countries

  • The Cornwall G7 summit sought to re-establish a common purpose among the richest democracies of the world.
  • The G7 agreed “collectively” to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 and called on “all countries, in particular, major emitting economies” to join as part of global efforts.
  • And, ODA (official development assistance) has been made contingent on net-zero emissions by 2050 and deep cuts in emissions in the 2020s.
  • G7 made an equal effort to shift the responsibility to the large developing countries.
  • However, “common and differentiated responsibilities” is the agreed guiding principle for tackling climate change.
  • Differentiation underscores the responsibility of the industrialised countries to lead.

India’s climate actions

  • India has been a leading stakeholder in climate action and is among the few in the G20 in line to meet their commitments under the Paris Accord.
  • It has also taken on a most ambitious target of 450 GW of renewable power by 2030.
  • India has shown the world the way forward on solar power with producers now offering ultra-competitive tariffs.

India’s concerns

  • Coal was particularly in the eye of the G7 which stressed “that international investments in unabated coal must stop now” .
  •  India, that continues to rely on coal, could face a crunch in assistance in thermal power.
  • BASIC, comprising India, China, Brazil and South Africa, has so far led the efforts of large developing countries in climate negotiations.
  • But with possible differences of opinion on net zero, BASIC’s clout in future global negotiations is questionable.

Way forward

  • Finance and technology are the key areas where the industrialised West can and must lead.
  • The collective developed countries’ commitment of $ 100 billion per year was made in Copenhagen in 2009 and is nowhere near being reached.
  • A smallish sum of $2 billion was committed by G7 to accelerating the transition from coal.
  • For India, with its huge developmental needs and global high-table aspirations that require carbon and policy spaces, the imperative is strong diplomatic partnerships with large developing economies that have an inherent interest in GREEN-Growth with Renewable Energy, Entrepreneurship and Nature.

Conclusion

India, which has huge developmental needs and global high-table aspirations that require carbon and policy spaces, must protect its interests.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

NatGeo recognizes ‘Southern Ocean’ as globe’s fifth ocean

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Southern Ocean

Mains level : NA

The National Geographic magazine has recognized the ‘Southern Ocean’ as the world’s fifth ocean June 8, 2021 hoping others will soon follow suit.

Answer this PYQ from CSP 2019 in the comment box:

Q.The most important fishing grounds of the world are found in the regions where:

(a) warm and cold atmospheric currents meet

(b) rivers drain out large amounts of freshwater into the sea

(c) warm and cold oceanic currents meet

(d) continental shelf is undulating

Southern Ocean

  • The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica.
  • As such, it is regarded as the second-smallest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean.
  • Over the past 30 years, the Southern Ocean has been subject to rapid climate change, which has led to changes in the marine ecosystem.

What has NatGeo attempted?

  • The magazine says the Southern Ocean is the only ocean ‘to touch three other oceans and to completely embrace a continent rather than being embraced by them’.
  • Its northern limit is a latitude of 60 degrees south.
  • It is also defined by its Antarctic Circumpolar Current that was formed 34 million years ago. The current flows from west to east around Antarctica.
  • The Southern Ocean is home to large populations of whales, penguins, and seals.

Why such a move?

  • Usually, the magazine has followed the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) on marine names, it said in an article notifying the change.
  • The IHO too had recognized ‘Southern Ocean’ as a distinct body of water surrounding Antarctica in 1937 but had repealed the same in 1953.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Glacier melting in Hindu Kush Himalayas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hindu Kush Himalayas

Mains level : Melting of glaciers

Up to two billion people in southeast Asia can face food and water shortages even as the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) mountain ranges lose up to two-thirds of its ice by 2100, a United Nations-backed research flagged.

Hindu Kush Himalayas

  • The HKH region, often referred to as the ‘Third Pole’, is spread over 3,500 square kilometers across eight countries including India, Nepal, and China.
  • The range forms the western section of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region (HKH) and is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram, and the Himalayas.
  • It divides the valley of the Amu Darya (the ancient Oxus) to the north from the Indus River valley to the south.
  • It contains the world’s third-largest storage of frozen water after the Antarctica and Arctic.
  • Over 240 million people live in the region’s mountains; 1.7 billion live in the river basins downstream, while food grown in these basins reaches three billion people.

Continuous warming

  • HKH region continues to warm through 21st century even if the world was able to limit global warming at the agreed 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Another study published in 2019 on the ice thickness of glaciers had estimated that glaciers in the HKH may contain 27 percent less ice than previously suggested.
  • The HKH region lies downwind from some of the most heavily polluted places on Earth. This threatens agriculture, climate as well as monsoon patterns.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

World’s largest iceberg breaks off from Antarctica

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : A-76 Iceberg

Mains level : Impact of climate changes on Cryosphere

A huge ice block has broken off from western Antarctica into the Weddell Sea, becoming the largest iceberg in the world and earning the name A-76.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.On the planet earth, most of the freshwater exists as ice caps and glaciers. Out of the remaining freshwater, the largest proportion:

(a) is found in the atmosphere as moisture and clouds

(b) is found in freshwater lakes and rivers

(c) exists as groundwater

(d) exists as soil moisture

A-76 Iceberg

  • A-76 is the latest in a series of large ice blocks to dislodge in a region acutely vulnerable to climate change, although scientists said in this case it appeared to be part of a natural polar cycle.
  • The iceberg, measuring around 170 km long and 25 km wide, with an area of 4,320 sq km is now floating in the Weddell Sea.
  • Slightly larger than the Spanish island of Majorca, A-76 had been monitored by scientists since it began to separate from the Ronne Ice Shelf.
  • It joins the previous world’s largest title holder A-23A — approximately 3,880 sq. km. in size — which has remained in the same area since 1986.
  • A-76 was originally spotted by the British Antarctic Survey and the calving — the term used when an iceberg breaks off — was confirmed using images from the Copernicus satellite.

Note: An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that has broken off a glacier or an ice shelf and is floating freely in open water.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Leang Sakapao Caves

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Leang Sakapao Caves

Mains level : Not Much

Researchers have reported that Pleistocene-era rock paintings dating back to 45,000-20,000 years ago in cave sites in southern Sulawesi, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, are weathering at an alarming rate.

Have you ever found the mention of ‘Altamira Caves’ in your NCERTs?

Leang Sakapao Caves

  • This cave art of Sulawesi is much older than the prehistoric cave art of Europe.
  • The artwork in the area includes what is believed to be the world’s oldest hand stencil (almost 40,000 years ago), created by pressing the hand on a cave wall and spraying wet red-mulberry pigments over it.
  • A nearby cave features the world’s oldest depiction of an animal, a warty pig painted on the wall 45,500 years ago.

Impact of climate change

  • The artwork made with pigments was decaying due to a process known as haloclasty, which is triggered by the growth of salt crystals due to repeated changes in temperature and humidity.
  • This is caused by alternating wet and dry weather in the region.
  • Indonesia has also experienced several natural disasters in recent years, which have quickened the process of deterioration.

Note:

Mark all islands of the Indonesian Archipelago in your Atlas.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Climate change causing a shift in Earth’s axis, finds new study

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Polar shift

Mains level : Paper 3- How climate change causing a shift in the Earth's axis of rotation

About the study

  • A study is published in Geophysical Research Letters of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
  • The study has added yet another impact of climate change on the earth – marked shifts in the axis along which the Earth rotates.
  • It says that due to the significant melting of glaciers because of global temperature rise, our planet’s axis of rotation has been moving more than usual since the 1990s.

How the earth’s axis shifts

  • The Earth’s axis of rotation is the line along which it spins around itself as it revolves around the Sun.
  • The points on which the axis intersects the planet’s surface are the geographical north and south poles.
  • The location of the poles is not fixed, however, as the axis moves due to changes in how the Earth’s mass is distributed around the planet.
  • Thus, the poles move when the axis moves, and the movement is called “polar motion”.
  • Generally, polar motion is caused by changes in the hydrosphere, atmosphere, oceans, or solid Earth.
  • But now, climate change is adding to the degree with which the poles wander.

What the study says

  • As per the study, the north pole has shifted in a new eastward direction since the 1990s, because of changes in the hydrosphere (meaning the way in which water is stored on Earth).
  • From 1995 to 2020, the average speed of drift was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.
  • The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s, the study says.
  • The other possible causes are terrestrial water storage change in non‐glacial regions due to climate change and unsustainable consumption of groundwater.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Melting of Glaciers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Factors contributing to the melting of glaciers

Mains level : Paper 3- Glaciers melting rapidly

Glaciers shrinking faster than before

  • A new study by ETH Zurich and University of Toulouse researchers finds that the world’s glaciers are shrinking at a faster rate than before.
  •  If the trend continues this will put the densely-populated parts of Asia at risk of flood and water shortages.
  • The study found the world’s ice fields lost 298 gigatons of ice per year from 2015 to 2019, a 30% increase in the rate of retreat compared with the previous five years.
  • Glaciers in Alaska, the Alps and Iceland are among those disappearing at the fastest pace.
  • The scientists used images from a special camera aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, which has circled the Earth every 100 minutes since its launch in 1999.

Impact

  • The situation in the Himalayas is particularly worrying.
  • Swathes of India and Bangladesh could face water stress during dry periods when major rivers like the Ganges and Indus are mainly fed by glacial runoff.
  • Glaciers typically accumulate ice in the winter, but a warming climate means summer melting has outstripped those gains and caused a net loss of ice in mountain regions.
  • The melting in turn contributes to global warming and indirectly accelerates sea level rise, raising the risk of flooding faced by coastal communities.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Major oil and gas producers form Net Zero Producers’ Forum

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Net Zero Producers' Forum

Mains level : Paper 3- Net Zero Producers' Forum

About the Net Zero Producers’ forum

  • Five of the world’s major oil and gas producers are working together to ‘develop pragmatic net-zero emission strategies’.
  • Qatar, the US, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Norway, collectively responsible for 40% of global oil and gas production, will come together to form a cooperative forum that will develop pragmatic net zero-emission strategies.
  • Energy producers are faced with unique responsibilities to furnish the world with energy but the climate crisis requires serious leadership and a strong alliance to deliver a path to net-zero.

Strategies and technologies

  • The Net Zero Producers’ Forum will consider strategies and technologies which include methane abatement, circular carbon economy approach, development and deployment of clean energy and carbon capture and storage technologies, diversification from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues etc.

Source:

https://www.energy.gov/articles/joint-statement-establishing-net-zero-producers-forum-between-energy-ministries-canada

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Eastern India most vulnerable to climate change, says study

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vulnerability Index

Mains level : Paper 3- Vulnerability to climate change

About the report

  • Published this week, the report on ‘Climate vulnerability assessment for adaptation planning in India using a common framework’ was conducted in 2019-2020 across 29 States.
  • It was part of a capacity building programme under the National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.
  • The report was prepared by IISc, IIT-Mandi and IIT-Guwahati.

Major findings

  • Along with Chhattisgarh in central India, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal are the eight most vulnerable States.
  • These eight most vulnerable States require prioritisation of adaptation interventions.
  • Jharkhand, with the highest vulnerability indices VI of 0.674, topped the list of States most vulnerable to climate change.
  • The major drivers for the vulnerability of all the States included lack of forest area per 1,000 rural population, lack of crop insurance, marginal and small operational land holding, low density of health workers, low participation of women in the workforce, yield variability of food grains, and a high proportion of the population below the poverty line.
  • Tamil Nadu and Kerala are among seven States that are the least vulnerable but there’s more to it meets the eye.
  • However, the vulnerability indices (VIs) for these seven States range from the lowest of 0.419 for Maharashtra to 0.468 for Uttarakhand, which is on the higher side.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Thwaites Glacier

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Thwaites Glacier

Mains level : Glacial melting and sea level rise

The melting of Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier – also called the “Doomsday Glacier”– has long been a cause of concern because of its high potential of speeding up the global sea-level rise happening due to climate change.

Thwaites Glacier

  • Called the Thwaites Glacier, it is 120 km wide at its broadest, fast-moving, and melting fast over the years.
  • Because of its size (1.9 lakh square km), it contains enough water to raise the world sea level by more than half a meter.
  • Studies have found the amount of ice flowing out of it has nearly doubled over the past 30 years.
  • Thwaites’s melting already contributes 4% to global sea-level rise each year. It is estimated that it would collapse into the sea in 200-900 years.
  • Thwaites is important for Antarctica as it slows the ice behind it from freely flowing into the ocean. Because of the risk it faces — and poses — Thwaites is often called the Doomsday Glacier.

What have previous studies said?

  • A 2019 study by New York University had discovered a fast-growing cavity in the glacier. Then last year, researchers detected warm water at a vital point below the glacier.
  • The study reported water at just two degrees above freezing point at Thwaites’s “grounding zone” or “grounding line”.
  • The grounding line is the place below a glacier at which the ice transitions between resting fully on bedrock and floating on the ocean as an ice shelf.
  • The location of the line is a pointer to the rate of retreat of a glacier.
  • When glaciers melt and lose weight, they float off the land where they used to be situated. When this happens, the grounding line retreats.
  • That exposes more of a glacier’s underside to seawater, increasing the melting rate resulting in the glacier speeding up, stretching out, and thinning, causing the grounding line to retreat ever further.

What has the new study revealed?

  • The recent Gothenburg study used an uncrewed submarine to go under the Thwaites glacier front to make observations.
  • The submersible called “Ran” measured among other things the strength, temperature, salinity and oxygen content of the ocean currents that go under the glacier.
  • There is a deep connection to the east through which deepwater flows from Pine Island Bay, a connection that was previously thought to be blocked by an underwater ridge.

Why this is a cause of worry?

  • The warm water is approaching the pinning points of the glacier from all sides, impacting these locations where the ice is connected to the seabed and where the ice sheet finds stability.
  • This has the potential to make things worse for Thwaites, whose ice shelf is already retreating.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Early bud-break genes and climate change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Genetics and climate change

Mains level : Impacts of climate change on plant dynamics

Changing climate has transformed the time spring unfolds in front of us.

Early bud-break

  • Bud-break — which is when trees leaf out — has undergone a change.
  • Several trees initiate bud-break too early or too late, which affects the harvest.
  • Spring, for example, arrived earlier than usual in Kashmir this year due to higher temperatures in February and March.
  • Gul-tour, a spring-flowering herb started blooming in mid-February in Kashmir. Its yellow flowers would usually blossom in March, heralding Spring.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Other than resistance to pests, what are the prospects for which genetically engineered plants have been created?

  1. To enable them to withstand drought
  2. To increase the nutritive value of the produce
  3. To enable them to grow and do photosynthesis in spaceships and space stations
  4. To increase their shelf life

Select the correct answer using the code given below

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 and 4 only

(c) 1, 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: (d)

What causes early bud-break?

  • This is why understanding the genetics of bud-break helps scientists modify or select crop varieties that can be more resilient to the climate threat.
  • The properties of transcription factors are genes that regulate other genes by binding to deoxyribonucleic acid and giving activation instructions.
  • It helps scientists determine what other genes might be involved in a process such as a bud-break.

EBB genes

  • Researchers of the study had earlier identified transcription factors for early bud-break 1 (EBB1) and short vegetative phase (SVL), which directly interact to control bud-break.
  • EBB1 is a positive regulator of bud-break, whereas SVL is a negative regulator of bud-break.
  • Now, the research team has identified and characterized the early bud-break 3 (EBB3) gene.

Identified mechanism of Bud-break

  • EBB3 is a temperature-responsive, positive regulator of bud-break that provides a direct link to activation of the cell cycle during bud-break.
  • EBB3 provides a direct link through the signalling pathway for how these cells divide.
  • The analysis reveals how particular genes activate through the season or in response to specific environmental factors.

Significance of the study

  • New approaches for accelerated tree adaptation to climate change helps ensure bud-break happens at the right time each spring.
  • Using their understanding of the genetic pathways that control bud-break, scientists hope to genetically modify crops to adapt to warmer winters and unpredictable frosts.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Climate and consciousness

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Need to galvanise climate action

Two recent events: floods in Uttarakhand and Texas cold snap serves as reminders of the devastation climate change could unleash. What we need is climate action. The article deals with this issue.

Fingerprints of global warming in Uttarakhand floods and Texas cold snap

  • The melting of the Himalayan glaciers that prompted the floods and landslides in Uttarakhand have the fingerprints of global warming.
  • The United States has already witnessed many deadly avalanches since the beginning of 2021.
  • Furthermore, as glacier cover is replaced by water or land, the amount of light reflected decreases, aggravating warming.
  • The extreme cold weather in Texas, like the double-digit negative temperatures seen in Germany earlier this year, is connected to Arctic-peninsula warming, at a rate almost twice the global average.

Global warming causing the movement of cold air

  • Usually, there is a collection of winds around the Arctic keeping the cold locked far to the north.
  • But global warming has caused gaps in these protective winds, allowing intensely cold air to move south — a phenomenon that is accelerating.

India needs to announce carbon neutrality target

  • When the public connects cause and effect, responses are usually swift.
  • Global warming is still seen as a danger that lies over the horizon.
  • For India, the third-largest carbon emitter after China and the United States, a decisive switch is needed from highly polluting coal and petroleum to cleaner and renewable power sources.
  • China has announced carbon neutrality by 2060, Japan and South Korea by 2050, but India is yet to announce a target.
  • HSBC ranks India at the top among 67 nations in climate vulnerability (2018), Germanwatch ranks India fifth among 181 nations in terms of climate risks (2020).
  • But public spending does not reflect these perils.

Including policies for climate mitigation in the Budget

  • A vital step should be explicitly including policies for climate mitigation in the government budget.
  • Growth targets should include timelines for switching to cleaner energy.
  • The government needs to launch a major campaign to mobilise climate finance.
  • India’s Central and State governments must increase allocations for risk reduction, such as better defences against floods, or agricultural innovations to withstand droughts.

Neglect of warnings and lack of policy response

  •  The Uttarakhand government and the Centre have been diluting, instead of strengthening, climate safeguards for hydroelectric and road projects.
  • Studies had flagged ice loss across the Himalayas, and the dangers to densely populated catchments, but policy response has been lacking.
  • Similarly, Kerala ignored a landmark study calling for regulation of mining, quarrying and dam construction in ecologically sensitive places, which contributed to the massive floods and landslides in 2018 and 2019.

Consider the question ” Frequent occurrences of the extreme weather events serve as the warning for more climate actions, yet there is a lack of policy actions. In light of this, suggest the measures India should take.”

Conclusion

Events like Uttarakhand and Texas should be treated as lessons to change people’s minds and for the public to demand urgent action.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Lessons from Uttarakhand and Texas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Road to decarbonisation

The article deals with the common threads running through the recent flash floods in Uttarakhand and the severe cold that snapped the power grid in Texas.

Time-bound net zero carbon target

  • Most governments and corporates are in agreement over what needs to be done to reach the target of net-zero carbon emission target. Which include:
  • Fossil fuels must be steadily but inexorably replaced by clean energy electricity should be increasingly generated from solar and wind.
  • Transport should switch from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.
  • Energy demand should be conserved and more efficiently consumed.
  • Technology and innovation must remain the centrepiece of all activities.
  • Governments and corporates have also to agree on removing the legacy obstacles that lie on the pathway.

3 Legacy obstacles need to be removed

  • Two events last month will explain better the reasons for this concern.
  • A chunk of the Nanda Devi broke off and triggered flash floods downstream that then washed away or damaged several hydroelectric dams and led to the loss of hundreds of lives
  • A severe cold snap crashed the electricity grid system in Texas, plunging a wide swathe of the state into darkness.
  • These two events were unrelated, other than possibly by the link of climate change, but on examination of the reasons for the consequential material and human misery, they offer common insight.

1) Poorly designed planing system

  • In both cases, the authorities were caught unprepared. This is despite the fact that there had been precedents.
  • One reason for this lack of preparedness could be the presumption, based on historical data.
  • The lesson is that whilst the past is a useful guidepost, it is an imperfect one especially in view of the spate of natural disasters across the world in recent times, and that planners should be cautious about linear extrapolations.
  • Certainly, for the journey of decarbonisation, there is little of the distant past for them to hang onto.

2) Siloed and fragmented physical and regulatory oversight mechanisms

  • The tragedy in Uttarakhand reflected the costs of institutional fragmentation and lack of coordination in decision making.
  • The suggestions made in the aftermath of the Kedarnath flooding regarding land use and watershed management and the best means of securing an optimal balance between construction and the Himalayan ecology.
  • But the suggestion had not been implemented in large part because energy is a concurrent subject and there is no one ministerial or regulatory body responsible for this domain.
  • Further, these recommendations required the coming together of various non-energy ministries which, given the current vertically siloed structures of responsibility and accountability in our system, did not happen.
  • The glacial burst may have been beyond anyone’s control; the consequential downstream damage was avoidable. 

3) The lack of investment in energy infrastructure

  • One reason why solar and wind did not pick up the power slack in Texas was because the grid was not resilient enough to absorb the surge in the flow of intermittent renewable electrons.
  • India’s transmission system is not capable of managing the energy transition.
  • This problem will clearly have to be addressed if decarbonisation is to proceed smoothly.
  • But to do so, many issues will have to be resolved.
  • Not least, how much will it cost to upgrade the infrastructure? How will it be financed?
  • Who will take the lead on driving this change e?
  • Questions that are easier to set out than answer.

Way forward

  • To ensure that decarbonisation translates into effective action on the ground, policymakers will have to build structures that reflect the woven, multidimensional, interdependent and interconnected nature of the energy ecosystem.
  • This means creating mechanisms that facilitate inter-ministerial and inter-state collaboration within the country and multilateral cooperation internationally.

Consider the question “There are legacy obstacles in the road to decarbonisation. What are these obstacles and suggest the pathway to remove these obstacles?” 

Conclusion

In order to achieve the targets on carbon emission, India needs to draw on these lessons and build robust systems, regulatory mechanisms and facilitate investment in the creation of resilient energy infrastructure.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Lake Chad

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lake Chad

Mains level : Shrinking water bodies due to Global Warming

One of Africa’s largest freshwater bodies, Lake Chad, has shrunk by 90 per cent.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:

Q.Which of the following has/have shrunk immensely/dried up in the recent past due to human activities?

  1. Aral Sea
  2. Black Sea
  3. Lake Baikal

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3

Lake Chad

  • Lake Chad in the Sahel spans the countries of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and is home to 17.4 million people.
  • It is blessed with rich aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity.
  • The Chari River, fed by its tributary the Logone, provides over 90% of the lake’s water, with a small amount coming from the Yobe River in Nigeria/Niger.
  • Despite high levels of evaporation, the lake is freshwater.
  • The Lake Chad basin comprises biosphere reserves, World Heritage and Ramsar sites as well as wetlands of international conservation importance.

Why it is significant?

  • For years, the lake has been supporting drinking water, irrigation, fishing, livestock and economic activity for over 30 million people in the region.
  • It is vital for indigenous, pastoral and farming communities in one of the world’s poorest countries.
  • However, climate change has fuelled a massive environmental and humanitarian crisis.
  • The United Nations has termed the Lake Chad crisis as “one of the worst in the world”.

A looming peril

  • The lake has shrunk 90 per cent over the last 60 years since the chronic droughts surged at the beginning of the 1970s.
  • The surface area of the lake was 26,000 square kilometres in 1963; it has now reduced to less than 1,500 square kilometres.
  • Its population is exploding and the region has been ripped apart from conflict at an unprecedented scale.

Behind all crises

  • The ever-changing climate has dramatically worsened the situation, amplifying food and nutritional insecurity in the region.
  • Temperature is rising one-and-a-half times faster than the global average. The seasonal and inter-rainfall patterns have been drastically changing each year.
  • This has triggered food insecurity, ultimately pushing communities into the arms of terrorist groups.
  • Boko Haram is one of the top insurgent groups with a strong foothold in the region.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Carbon Watch: India’s first app to assess one’s carbon footprint

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Carbon footprints, Ecological footprints

Mains level : Not Much

Chandigarh became the first state or UT in India to launch Carbon Watch, a mobile application to assess the carbon footprint of an individual.

Carbon Footprint

  • A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent.
  • It corresponds to the whole amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced to, directly and indirectly; support a person’s lifestyle and activities.
  • Carbon footprints are usually measured in equivalent tons of CO2, during the period of a year, and they can be associated with an individual, an organization, a product or an event, among others.
  • The GHGs whose sum results in a carbon footprint can come from the production and consumption of fossil fuels, food, manufactured goods, materials, roads or transportation.

Note: An ecological footprint, as explained earlier compares the total resources people consume with the land and water area that is needed to replace those resources. A carbon footprint also deals with resource usage but focuses strictly on the greenhouse gases released due to burning of fossil fuels.

How does the app Carbon Watch work?

  • As a person downloads the application, they will need to fill details in four parts — Water, Energy, Waste Generation and Transport (Vehicular movement).
  • In the category of Water, the person will be required to inform about the consumption of water.
  • In the Energy category, the details regarding the electricity units consumed every month at the house, monthly bill etc and usage of solar energy will have to be furnished.
  • In the Waste category, the individual will need to inform about the waste generated on their part and their family.
  • In the transport section, the individual will have to inform about the mode of transport used by four-wheeler, two-wheeler or bicycle.

Try this PYQ:

As a result of their annual survey, the National Geographic Society and an international polling firm GlobeScan gave India top rank in Greendex 2009 score. What is this score?

(a) It is a measure of efforts made by different countries in adopting technologies for reducing the carbon footprint

(b) It is a measure of environmentally sustainable consumer behavior in different countries

(c) It is an assessment of programs/schemes undertaken by different countries for improving the conservation of natural resources

(d) It is an index showing the volume of carbon credits sold by different countries

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India Inc must follow global example, take affirmative action on climate change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Making businesses recognise their carbon footprint

The article explains the global trend in investors and lendors are demanding companies to recognise their impact on environment and act on it.

Accountability on climate change: global trend

  • There is a wave of investors pushing large corporations from across sectors, to recognise their carbon footprint and take affirmative action.
  • Aviva, the British insurance company announced it would divest stock and bond holdings in 30 of the biggest corporate emitters of carbon, if their boards failed to take affirmative action over climate change.
  • MPs in the United Kingdom called on the Bank of England to ratchet up environment standards in its pandemic stabilising, corporate bond programme.
  • Swedbank AB, Sweden’s biggest mortgage bank, has taken a decision not to provide fresh loans to new oil and gas projects.

Companies realising social and environmental impacts

  • Several large and growing companies, especially in Europe, are realising their social and environmental impacts and making it a boardroom agenda even without investor guns on their heads.
  • Schneider Electric, the energy management and automation company, has embedded environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into every facet of its activities.
  •  The company climbed from 29th to number 1 rank in the 2021 Global 100 ranking in the Corporate Knights index of the world’s most sustainable companies.
  • Only one company from India, Tech Mahindra, has made it to the world’s 100 most sustainable list.

Indian scenario

  • Indian institutional lenders and investors are simply not demanding enough on sustainability.
  • A majority of Indian companies are only meeting compliance norms set out by various state or city authorities.
  • Rarely do they go beyond rule-based compliances and implement environment, social and governance or ESG goals with purpose and passion like their European counterparts.

Way forward

  • SEBI is putting the final touches on the Business Responsibility and Environment Reporting (BRSR) guidelines.
  • The new ESG reporting norm will apply to the top 1,000 listed companies on Indian exchanges.
  • Under BRSR reporting guidelines, companies will have to declare their R&D spends on improving environmental and social outcomes. 
  • They will have to disclose energy and water consumed to turnover ratios, and the percentage of recycled or reused input materials, among many other social and governance disclosures such as CSR, employee skilling and gender diversity.
  • It’s time for lending institutions and investors to align with SEBI and use their muscle to drive a deeper change.

Consider the question “Indian institutional lenders and investors are  not demanding enough on sustainability from the companies. Rarely do they go beyond rule-based compliances and implement environment, social and governance or ESG goals with purpose and passion like their European counterparts. In light of this, suggest the measures to nudge the businesseses to act on their environmental responsibilities.” 

Conclusion

Stepping up green standards to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals cannot be the government’s responsibility alone. Businesses must be part of the movement, or the target of containing global warming to less than 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels, will remain elusive.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in Uttarakhand

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GLOF

Mains level : Climate change impact

A massive glacier burst at Chamoli in Uttarakhand yet again bringing back our focus to the dangers of climate change.

A wake-up call!

Uttarakhand is often at the heart of various Himalayan disasters such as flash floods, cloud bursts, avalanches and earthquakes.

The Chamoli incident signifies the dawn of ugly faces of climate disaster for which the mankind is clueless. At last, someone has to be blamed, isn’t it?

What is the news?

  • Experts are uncertain about what caused the massive glacier burst at Chamoli in Uttarakhand.
  • It is unclear whether there was an avalanche in the area recently or whether the lake breach was the result of construction, anthropological activities, climate change etc.

What is GLOF?

  • A GLOF is a type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails.
  • An event similar to a GLOF, where a body of water contained by a glacier melts or overflows the glacier, is called a jökulhlaup.
  • The dam can consist of glacier ice or a terminal moraine.
  • Failure can happen due to various factors such as:
  1. Erosion, a buildup of water pressure
  2. Avalanche of rock or heavy snow
  3. Earthquake or volcanic eruptions under the ice or
  4. Displacement of water in a glacial lake when a large portion of an adjacent glacier collapses into it

Possible causes for Chamoli

Avalanche

  • An avalanche is falling masses of snow and ice which gathers pace as it comes down the slope.
  • But an avalanche is unlikely to result in the rise of water of that magnitude what Chamoli witnessed.

Cloudburst

  • What happened in Uttarakhand in 2013 was a multi-day cloudburst.
  • It is a sudden, very heavy rainfall accompanies by a thunderstorm. But it generally happens in monsoon.
  • In fact, the season in which such a disaster was witnessed has surprised experts as there is no immediate trigger that can be pointed to as the reason why water level rose to that level washing away two hydro projects.

Why always Uttarakhand?

  • Human activities profoundly affect the earth’s climate and mountains are a sensitive indicator of that effect.
  • The mountain ecosystem is easily disrupted by variations in climate owing to their altitude, slope and orientation to the sun.
  • As the earth heats up, mountains glaciers melt at unprecedented rates.
  • Several scientists believe that the change occurring in the mountain ecosystems may provide an early glimpse of what could come to pass in a lowland environment.

Conclusion

  • The current policy of the government of pursuing hydro-power projects indiscriminately cannot be ignored.
  • The entire State of Uttarakhand is categorised as falling in Zone-IV and V of the earthquake risk map of India.
  • The potential of the cumulative effect of multiple such projects has turned out to be more environmentally damaging than sustainable.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Global Climate Risk Index 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Climate Risk Index 2021

Mains level : Climate change vulnerability and the economics behind

India was ranked the seventh worst-hit country in 2019 in the Global Climate Risk Index 2021.

The report holds much significance for prelims as well as mains. Just for the sake of information, we must be aware of India’s performance.

Global Climate Risk Index

  • The GCRI is released annually by the environmental think tank and sustainable development lobbyist Germanwatch.
  • It analyses to what extent countries have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.).
  • It pushes for the need to support developing countries in coping with the effects of climate change.

Highlights of the 2020 year

Global prospects

  • Mozambique, Zimbabwe and The Bahamas were the worst-affected countries in 2019.
  • While hurricane Dorian ravaged The Bahamas; Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi were affected by the single extreme weather event of cyclone Idai.
  • Japan and Afghanistan were the other countries that fared worse than India on the Index, while South Sudan, Niger and Bolivia fared better in comparison but still made it to the top 10 worst-affected countries.

The burden of development

  • Eight of the 10 countries most affected between 2000 and 2019 were developing countries with low or lower middle income per capita.
  • Vulnerable people in developing countries suffered most from extreme weather events like storms, floods and heatwaves, whereas the impact of climate change was visible around the globe.
  • Poorer countries are hit hardest because they are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of a hazard and have the lower coping capacity.

Data about India

  • According to the Index floods caused by heavy rain in 2019 took 1,800 lives across 14 states in India and displaced 1.8 million people.
  • Overall, the intense monsoon season affected 11.8 million people, with the economic damage estimated to be $10 billion (Rs.72,900 crore at $1=INR 72.9).
  • A total of eight tropical cyclones meant that 2019 was one of the most active Northern Indian Ocean cyclone seasons on record. Six of them intensified to become “very severe”.
  • The worst was Cyclone Fani in May 2019 which affected a total of 28 million people, killing nearly 90 people in India and Bangladesh, and causing economic losses of $8.1 billion (Rs.59,066 crore).

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

UN Adaptation Gap Report, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Adaptation Cost

Mains level : Progress of global climate action

The United Nations Adaptation Gap Report, 2020 was recently released by the UNEP.

Must read edition: Five years of Paris Agreement

UN Adaptation Gap Report

  • UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has managed the production of UN Environment’s Adaptation Gap Report series since its first edition in 2014.
  • The aim of the reports is to inform national and international efforts to advance climate change adaptation.

Behind the concept: Adaptation Cost

  • Adaptation Cost includes costs of planning, preparing for, facilitating and implementing the climate change adaptation measures.
  • It thus derives benefits as the avoided damage costs or the accrued benefits following the adoption and implementation of adaptation measures.

Highlights of the 2020 report

  • The annual cost of adaptation to the effects of climate change for developing countries is estimated to at least quadruple by 2050, according to the United Nations Adaptation Gap Report, 2020.
  • The current cost for developing countries is in the range of $70 billion (Rs 5.1 lakh crore) and may rise to $140-300 billion in 2030 and $280-500 billion in 2050.

Funding gaps

  • The ever-increasing adaptation cost has also outpaced the growth in adaptation finance that refers to the flow of funds to developing countries to help them tide over the damages caused by climate change.
  • This, in turn, has kept the adaptation finance gap from closing with the current efforts, although the fund flow has increased, the report said.
  • Adaptation costs, in actual terms, are higher in developed countries but the burden of adaptation is greater for developing countries in relation to their gross domestic product.
  • These countries, especially in Africa and Asia, which are least equipped to tackle climate change will also, be the most impacted by it, the report noted.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Why insects are crucial for ecological balance?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Insects as bioindicators

Mains level : Not Much

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the DownToEarth.  It talks about the ecological importance of insects.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following:

  1. Birds
  2. Dust blowing
  3. Rain
  4. Wind blowing

Which of the above spread plant diseases?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 3 and 4 only

(c) 1, 2 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Various threats to insects

  • Insects are increasingly susceptible to extinction due to increasing climate crisis.
  • They form the basal part of the food pyramid and impact our agriculture ecosystems as well as human health.
  • Their extinction can have a cascading effect on the upper levels of the food pyramid.
  • Rampant and indiscriminate use of chemicals in commercial agricultural practices, mainly monocropping systems, has been taking a toll on insects in the vicinity of farmlands and plantations.
  • While everyone is talking about sustainability in agriculture, the role of insects has largely been ignored.

A few common insects whose existence is taken for granted and their ecological relevance are:

(1) Butterflies

  • They are important pollinators like bees.
  • Species diversity and density of butterfly indicate a good diversity of plants in an area. Several types of butterflies have specific host plants.
  • Climate change, forest degradation, habitat loss, unavailability of hosts and nectar plant species are among major reasons for a decline in butterfly population.
  • This leads to loss of plants species that depend on the butterflies for pollination.
  • Backyard gardening and growing host plants in public spaces are important strategies to conserve butterfly species.

(2) Dragonflies

  • They are one of the most widely recognised insects, need clean aquatic systems and are hence a good indicator of the health of local aquatic systems.
  • These, along with damselflies, are well-known biological predators with both larvae and adults acting as natural bio-control agents.
  • They are highly sensitive to changes in their habitats and are declining due to increasing habitat loss, anthropogenic activities, pollutants, climate change and rapid urbanisation.
  • For their conservation, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has to be prohibited or minimized in agriculture systems.

(3) Grasshoppers

  • They feed on different plants and can cause serious damage to economic crops.
  • However, in a biodiversity-rich region, they are an important component of the food chain, being an important food source for many birds.
  • Grasshoppers and insects such as crickets are often consumed by people as they are rich in protein.

(4) Ants

  • They are in the most abundance. Ants act as scavengers/decomposers by feeding on organic wastes and other dead animals.
  • Ants also aerate the soil.
  • Heavy use of chemicals in agriculture causes harm to ants.

(5) Wild honey bees

  • They play a major role in the pollination of forest species affecting cross-pollination and maintenance of variability within species.
  • Wild honey is also a food source for humans and many wild animals.
  • When forest covers are lost, wild bees tend to migrate to newer areas where they may or may not adapt.
  • With the possibility of commercial apiaries, wild bees need to be left alone and honey tapping from wild hives discouraged.
  • This can help sustain the natural processed of pollination among forest species and maintain diversity in plants conventionally propagated through seeds.

(6) Rainbow leaf beetles

  • They are found in forests, woodlands and mountain grasslands.
  • They mostly depend on leaves and flowers of some specific plant family like Apocynaceae.
  • These are listed as endangered species in International Union for Conservation of Nature from 1994.
  • The species is also known to be poisonous to its predators for they feed on dogbane that contains poisonous cardenolides.

(7) Fireflies

  • They are a good indicator of a healthy environment, especially a good aquatic system. They avoid regions with chemical toxicity.
  • They are good pollinators and natural pest control agents in several ecosystems.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Antarctic Ozone Hole — one of the largest, deepest — closes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ozone Hole

Mains level : Climate change impact

The Antarctic ozone hole — one of the deepest, largest gap in the ozone layer in the last 40 years — has closed, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

Chlorofluorocarbons, known as ozone-depleting substances are used:

  1. In the production of plastic foams
  2. In the production of tubeless tyres
  3. In cleaning certain electronic components
  4. As pressurizing agents in aerosol cans

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 4 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Antarctic Ozone Hole

  • The Antarctic “ozone hole” was discovered by British Antarctic Survey scientists Farman, Gardiner and Shanklin in 1985.
  • It came as a shock to the scientific community because the observed decline in polar ozone was far larger than anyone had anticipated.
  • It was caused by the chemical reactions on polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) in the cold Antarctic stratosphere caused a massive.
  • Though localized and seasonal, an increase in the amount of chlorine present in active, ozone-destroying forms.

Role of PSCs

  • The polar stratospheric clouds in Antarctica are only formed when there are very low temperatures, as low as −80 °C, and early spring conditions.
  • In such conditions, the ice crystals of the cloud provide a suitable surface for the conversion of unreactive chlorine compounds into reactive chlorine compounds, which can deplete ozone easily.

An annual process

  • An ozone hole is the thinning of the ozone layer boosted in size by colder temperatures.
  • The formation of the ozone hole in the Antarctic has been an annual occurrence and has been recorded for the last 40 years.
  • Human-made chemicals migrate into the stratosphere and accumulate inside the polar vortex. It begins to shrink in size as warmer temperatures dominate.
  • As the temperatures high up in the stratosphere start to rise, ozone depletion slows, the polar vortex weakens and breaks down.
  • By the end of December, ozone levels return to normal.

The hole closes after achieving peak

  • The annually occurring ozone hole over the Antarctic had rapidly grown from mid-August and peaked at around 24 million square kilometres — one of the largest so far — in early October 2020.
  • The expansion of the hole was driven by a strong, stable and cold polar vortex and very cold temperatures in the stratosphere.
  • The same meteorological factors also contributed to the record 2020 Arctic ozone hole, which has also closed.

Note: A polar vortex is a wide expanse of swirling cold air, a low-pressure area, in Polar Regions. During winters, the polar vortex at the North Pole expands, sending cold air southward.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Sea of Galilee

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sea of Galilee

Mains level : Not Much

The Sea of Galilee, well-known in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic lore, has swelled up due to recent rains, according to reports in the Israeli media.

Do you know?

The Sea of Galilee Lake Tiberias, Kinneret or Kinnereth is a freshwater lake in Israel. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake).

Sea of Galilee

  • The lake lies in northern Israel, between the occupied Golan Heights and the Galilee region. It is fed by underground springs but its major source is the Jordan River.
  • The lake has risen to 209.905 meters below sea level due to heavy rainfall in the surrounding areas.
  • The Jordan flows into the lake and then exits it before ending in the Dead Sea, the saltiest and the lowest point on the planet.
  • Water is not extracted from the Sea of Galilee. But it is considered to be an important barometer of the water situation in Israel.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

A-68s: Largest floating Iceberg

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Icebergs

Mains level : Impact of climate changes on Cryosphere

A research mission is held to find out the impact of a giant floating iceberg A-68s on the wildlife and marine life on a sub-Antarctic island.

Q. How does the cryosphere affect global climate? (CSM 2017)

What are Icebergs?

  • An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that has broken off a glacier or an ice shelf and is floating freely in open (salt) water.
  • Small bits of disintegrating icebergs are called “growlers” or “bergy bits”.
  • Much of an iceberg is below the surface which led to the expression “tip of the iceberg” to illustrate a small part of a larger unseen issue.
  • Icebergs are considered a serious maritime hazard, especially for shipping industries.

A-68s

  • The iceberg — named A-68s — is travelling at varying speeds depending on local conditions, but at its fastest was travelling about 20 kilometres a day.
  • The huge iceberg — the size of the U.S. state of Delaware — has been floating north since it broke away from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf in 2017.
  • It is now about 75 kilometres from the island of South Georgia, and scientists are concerned over the risks it poses to the wildlife in the area if it grounds near the island.
  • South Georgia is home to colonies of tens of thousands of penguins and 6 million fur seals, which could be threatened by the iceberg during their breeding season.
  • The waters near the island are also one of the world’s largest marine protected areas and house more marine species than the Galapagos.
  • Destruction by the iceberg will release this stored carbon back into the water and, potentially, the atmosphere, which would be a further negative impact.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI)

Mains level : India's committment for climate action

India ranked high along with the European Union and the United Kingdom in the latest edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2020 released by non-profit Germanwatch.

It’s a very rare feat that India has performed so better in any climate-related index. We can use this data to highlight India’s dedicated efforts for Paris Agreement.

Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI)

  • The CCPI is an independent monitoring tool for tracking countries’ climate protection performance. It has been published annually since 2005.
  • It evaluates 57 countries and the European Union, which together generate 90%+ of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Using standardised criteria, the CCPI looks at four categories, with 14 indicators: Greenhouse Gas Emissions (40% of the overall score), Renewable Energy (20%), Energy Use (20%), and Climate Policy (20%).
  • The CCPI’s unique climate policy section evaluates countries’ progress in implementing policies working towards achieving the Paris Agreement goals.

Global scenario

  • No country was doing enough to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to the index.
  • Six G20 countries were ranked among very low performers. The United States, with a rank of 61, was the worst performer.

India’s performance

  • India, for the second time in a row, continued to remain in the top 10. The country scored 63.98 points out of 100.
  • It received high ratings on all CCPI indicators except ‘renewable energy’, where it was categorised as having a ‘medium’ performance.
  • Last year, India had been ranked at the ninth position, with an overall score of 66.02.
  • India needed to focus more on renewable energy, both, as a mitigation strategy and for its post-novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) green recovery, the report said.

Renewable energy

  • No country was rated very high on indicators defining the ‘renewable energy’ category.
  • India has been ranked at 27th out of 57 countries under the category this time. Last year, it was ranked at 26th.
  • India’s performance has been rated as ‘medium’ for its current share of renewable energy. Its performance for the development of renewable energy supply during the last year was rated as ‘high’.

A positive sign for India

  • India’s improved policy framework has been responsible for the country’s good performance in this global index. However, the report underlined the need for long-term planning.
  • Unlike the other two ‘BASIC’ countries of China and South Africa, India is yet to announce its mitigation strategy.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Species in news: Red Sea Turtles

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Red Sea Turtles

Mains level : Impact of climate changes

Turtle populations in the Red Sea could be turning overwhelmingly female because of a rise in sea temperatures caused due to anthropogenic climate change, a new study has showed.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following fauna of India:

  1. Gharial
  2. Leatherback turtle
  3. Swamp deer

Which of the above is/are endangered?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

Red Sea Turtles

  • There are seven extant species worldwide, five of which can be found in the Red Sea: the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, the loggerhead turtle, the olive ridley turtle and the leatherback turtle.
  • In order to maintain a 50:50 ratio of male and female in the population, a temperature of 29.2 degrees Celsius is pivotal.
  • Above this, hatchlings would be predominantly female.
  • The sand temperatures at four of the sites exceeded 29.2 degrees; leading the team to the conclusion that ‘feminization’ of the population could be already happening.

Their significance

  • Marine turtles—as all top predators—have a prominent role in maintaining balanced and healthy ecosystems, in particular seagrass beds and coral reefs.
  • They also help in transporting nutrients towards naturally nutrient-poor ecosystems (the nesting beaches), and providing food and transportation for other marine species (e.g., barnacles and commensal crabs).
  • Marine turtles also play an important role in the economy of the tourism industry.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Chinese dam projects on Brahmaputra and impact on downstream countries

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Construction of dams Brahmaputra river by China

Scarcity of water in India and China

  • As India and China continue to grow demographically as well as economically amid increased consumption among its citizenry, both nations face water constraints.
  • China, which is home to close to 20 per cent of the world’s population, has only 7 per cent of its water resources.
  • Severe pollution of its surface and groundwater caused by rapid industrialisation is a source of concern for Chinese planners.
  • China’s southern regions are water-rich in comparison to the water-stressed northern part.
  • The southern region is a major food producer and has significant industrial capacity as a consequence of more people living there.
  • India is severely water-stressed as well.
  • Similar to China, India has 17 per cent of the world’s population and 4 per cent of water.
  • As in China, an equally ambitious north-south river-linking project has been proposed in India.

Impact on downstream states

  • The construction of several dams along the Yarlung (Brahmaputra) river on the Chinese side has been a repeated cause for concern for Indian officials and the local people.
  • China has an ambitious plan to link its south and north through canals, aqueducts and linking of major rivers to ensure water security.
  • In pursuit of these goals, China, being an upper riparian state in Asia, has been blocking rivers like the Mekong and its tributaries, affecting Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
  • It has caused immense damage to the environment and altered river flows in the region.
  • China sees these projects as a continuation of their historic tributary system as the smaller states have no means of effectively resisting or even significant leverage in negotiations.

Challenges for India

  • There are now multiple operational dams in the Yarlung Tsangpo basin with more dams commissioned and under construction. These constructions present a unique challenge for Indian planners.
  • 1) Dams will eventually lead to degradation of the entire basin:
  • Silt carried by the river would get blocked by dams leading to a fall in the quality of soil and eventual reduction in agricultural productivity.
  • 2) The Brahmaputra basin is one of the world’s most ecologically sensitive zones.
  • It is identified as one of the world’s 34 biological hotspots.
  • This region sees several species of flora and fauna that are endemic to only this part of the world.
  • The river itself is home to the Gangetic river dolphin, which is listed as critically endangered.
  • 3) The location of the dams in the Himalayas pose a risk.
  • Seismologists consider the Himalayas as most vulnerable to earthquakes and seismic activity.
  • The sheer size of the infrastructure projects undertaken by China, and increasingly by India, poses a significant threat to the populations living downstream.
  • Close to a million people live in the Brahmaputra basin in India and tens of millions further downstream in Bangladesh.
  • 4) Damming Brahmaputra would result in water security in an era of unprecedented shifting climate patterns.
  • This security extends beyond water, as there is the potential to significantly change the flow rate during times of standoffs and high tensions.

Way forward

  • Both sides must cease new constructions on the river and commit to potentially less destructive solutions.
  • Building a decentralised network of check dams, rain-capturing lakes and using traditional means of water capture have shown effective results in restoring the ecological balance while supporting the populations of the regions in a sustainable manner.

Conclusion

There are alternate solutions to solving the water crisis.  It is in the interest of all stakeholders to neutralise this ticking water bomb.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India’s challenge in balancing the emissions and economy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paris Agreement

Mains level : Paper 3- Balancing development with climate action

India faces an uphill task of balancing its climate action with the economic growth. Bridging the energy deficit through renewable energy in cost-effective and increasing urban forestry could help in balancing the both.

Comparing India’s commitment

  • China’s announcement recently to achieve carbon neutrality, that is, effectively generating net-zero emissions, before 2060 has now shifted focus on India’s commitments.
  • In this context,  let us compare India’s commitments with other countries, based on an independent scientific analysis carried out by the Climate Action Tracker. Major findings of it are:-
  • 1) India is one of the only six countries (amongst the 33 that were assessed), and the only G-20 country, whose climate commitments at Paris are on a path compatible to limit warming well below 2°C.
  • 2) It seems that India is well on its way to achieving its carbon intensity reduction and non-fossil-fuel electricity growth capacity commitments well before the 2030 target year.
  • Even though China’s commitment is likely to lower warming projections by around 0.2 to 0.3 degrees C by 2100, China continues to remain in the “highly insufficient” category.
  • India, despite being the fourth-largest emitter, has consistently kept its commitments in sync with its fair share and will achieve, if not over-achieve, these targets.

Difference in development and growth levels

  • Development and growth in India are still at an early stage, and our first goal remains increasing the availability of adequate infrastructure for all Indians.
  • A measure of this deficit is that we use only about 0.6 tonnes of oil-equivalent worth of energy per person per year while in China it is 2.36 tonnes per person per year, and is at least 4 tonnes per person per year in the OECD countries.
  • It is, therefore, essential that we rapidly bridge the energy deficit.

Bridging the energy deficit through renewable and cost-effective manner

  • Cost-effectiveness in renewable electricity has occurred rather rapidly, largely as a result of the global reduction in solar PV and battery prices.
  • Solar electricity is already the cheapest electricity available in India when the sun is shining.
  • It now seems that round-the-clock renewable electricity may be cost-competitive with coal electricity in the near future.
  • This cost-effectiveness of zero-carbon options will emerge in other applications as well.
  • It will involve dedicated action in some of the vital sectors which can generate and sustain employment while adding to the country’s economic growth.
  • It will enable a shift away from emissions-intensive fossil fuels, reducing our dependence on fuel imports.

Urban forestry to compensate for environmental degradation

  • Increasing urban forestry could help compensate for environmental degradation as a result of rapid urbanisation in several Indian cities.
  • This is vital to restore the flow of crucial ecosystem services, including air quality, and increase the resilience of cities to extreme climatic events.
  • As a result, enhancing biodiversity, minimising human-wildlife conflict and restoring India’s pristine forests by developing dedicated wildlife/biodiversity corridors is an essential next step.

Way ahead

  • At the developmental crossroads that India stands, the next decade is vital for its own economic growth, its climate action, and its social and ecological well-being.
  • With this in mind, India must focus on its domestic developmental prerogative and disengage them from the pressures that come along with international negotiations, focussing on actions that reduce the development deficits, which also provide strong climate benefits.
  • India must initiate a narrative, discussion and dialogue which focuses on each country taking on commitments that move their carbon trajectory towards the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

Consider the question “Development and growth in India still at an early stage which makes the challenge of balancing the commitment to climate action with economic developement more difficult. In light of this, suggest the strategy that India should follow.”

Conclusion

India, being at the crossroads of development needs to balance the development goals with its commitment towards climate action.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Places in news: Tristan da Cunha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Map reading: Tristan Da Cunha

Mains level : Not Much

The isolated UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, the world’s most remote human settlement, has been declared the largest fully protected marine reserves in the Atlantic Ocean at 687,000 square kilometres.

Note the location of Tristan da Cunha Islands in the Atlantic.

Tristan da Cunha

  • Tristan da Cunha, which is inhabited by less than 300 humans is a small chain of islands over 6,000 miles from London in the South Atlantic and the water around the islands are considered to be the richest in the world.
  • The mountainous archipelago is home to tens of millions of seabirds and several unique land birds that are comparable to the Galapagos island finches.
  • The island group is also home to the World Heritage Site of Gough and Inaccessible Islands, which is one of the most important seabird islands in the world.

Significance of protection

  • After joining the UK’s Blue Belt Programme, it will become the largest no-take zone in the Atlantic and the fourth largest on the planet.
  • This will close over 90 per cent of their waters to harmful activities such as bottom-trawling fishing, sand extraction and deep-sea mining.
  • The almost 700,000 square kilometres of the Marine Protection Zone (MPZ) is almost three times the size of the UK and will safeguard the future of sevengill sharks, Yellow-nosed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins.
  • MPZs involve the management of certain natural areas for biodiversity conservation or species protection and are created by delineating zones with permitted and non-permitted areas within that zone.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Glacial Lake Outburst in Ladakh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Glacial landforms

Mains level : Impact of climate changes on Cryosphere

In August 2014, a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) hit the village of Gya in Ladakh, destroying houses, fields and bridges. Researchers now have mapped the evolution of Gya glacial lake and note the cause of the flood.

What is glacial lake outburst flood?

  • A GLOF is a type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails.
  • An event similar to a GLOF, where a body of water contained by a glacier melts or overflows the glacier, is called a Jökulhlaup.
  • The dam can consist of glacier ice or a terminal moraine.
  • Failure can happen due to erosion, a buildup of water pressure, an avalanche of rock or heavy snow, an earthquake, volcanic eruptions under the ice, or glacier collapses into it.

 How did it happen in Ladakh?

  • It was not a spillover but rather a tunnelling of drainage process that caused GLOF in Gya lake.
  • Imagine a bucket full of water. It can overflow when you drop a stone, or the water can drain if there is a hole under the bucket.
  • Similarly, here the flooding did not happen due to the spillovers due to an avalanche or landslide, rather there was a thawing of the ice cores in the moraine.

Back2Basics: Glacial Landforms

Glacial landforms are landforms created by the action of glacier movements.

As the glaciers expand, due to their accumulating weight of snow and ice they crush and abrade and scour surfaces such as rocks and bedrock.  The resulting erosional landforms include striations, cirques, glacial horns, arêtes, trim lines, U-shaped valleys, over-deepening and hanging valleys.

  • Cirque: Starting location for mountain glaciers
  • Cirque stairway: a sequence of cirques
  • U-shaped, or trough, valley: U-shaped valleys are created by mountain glaciers. When filled with ocean water so as to create anthe glacial action erodes through, a spillway (or col) forms
  • Valley step: an abrupt change in the longitudinal slope of a glacial valley

When the glaciers retreated leaving behind their freight of crushed rock and sand (glacial drift), they created characteristic depositional landforms.  Examples include glacial moraines, eskers, and kames. Drumlins and ribbed moraines are also landforms left behind by retreating glaciers.

  • Esker: Built-up bed of a subglacial stream
  • Kame: Irregularly shaped mound
  • Moraine: Feature can be terminal (at the end of a glacier), lateral (along the sides of a glacier), or medial (formed by the merger of lateral moraines from contributary glaciers)
  • Outwash fan: Braided stream flowing from the front end of a glacier

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

In news: Great Barrier Reef

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Great Barrier Reef

Mains level : Impact of climate changes on coral reefs

Australian scientists have found a detached coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef that exceeds the height of the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Most of the world’s coral reefs are in tropical waters.
  2. More than one-third of the world’s coral reefs are located in the territories of Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
  3. Coral reefs host far more number of animal phyla than those hosted by tropical rainforests.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

About Great Barrier Reef

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
  • It is stretched for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres.
  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
  • It was world heritage listed in 1981 by UNESCO as the most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet.

Why it is significant?

  • This is first such discovery in over 100 years.
  • The “blade-like” reef is nearly 500 metres tall and 1.5 kilometres wide.
  • It lies 40 metres below the ocean surface and about six kilometres from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

Tap to read more about:

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is Atlantification?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Atlantification

Mains level : Impact of climate changes

Scientists have uncovered “hotspots” where some parts of the Barents Sea are starting to more closely resemble the Atlantic. They call this phenomenon “Atlantification”.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The Atlantification phenomenon sometimes seen in news is most closely related to which of the following seas/water bodies?

a) Norwegian Sea

b) Kara Sea

c) Barents Sea

d) Baffin Bay

What is Atlantification?

  • Streams of warmer water from the Atlantic Ocean flow into the Arctic at the Barents Sea.
  • This warmer, saltier Atlantic water is usually fairly deep under the more buoyant Arctic water at the surface.
  • Lately, however, the Atlantic water has been creeping up. That heat in the Atlantic water is helping to keep ice from forming and melting existing sea ice from below.
  • This process is called “Atlantification”.
  • The ice is now getting hit both from the top by a warming atmosphere and at the bottom by a warming ocean.

Reasons for it

  • In the background of all of this is global climate change.
  • The Arctic sea ice extent and thickness have been dropping for decades as global temperatures rise.
  • As the Arctic loses ice and the ocean absorbs more solar radiation, global warming is amplified.
  • That affects ocean circulation, weather patterns and Arctic ecosystems spanning the food chain, from phytoplankton all the way to top predators.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

China’S Climate Commitment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Net Zero

Mains level : Climate change commitments

Context- Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping made two promises that came as a welcome surprise to climate change watchers.

What has China announced ?

  • First, Xi said, China would become carbon net-zero by the year 2060.
    • Net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorptions and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
    • Absorption can be increased by creating more carbon sinks such as forests, while removal involves application of technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
  • Second, the Chinese President announced a small but important change in China’s already committed target for letting its emissions “peak”, from “by 2030” to “before 2030”.
    • That means China would not allow its greenhouse gas emissions to grow beyond that point.
    • Xi did not specify how soon “before 2030” means, but even this much is being seen as a very positive move from the world’s largest emitter.

How significant is China’s commitment?

  • China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It accounts for almost 30% of global emissions, more than the combined emissions in the United States, the European Union and India, the three next biggest emitters.
  • Getting China to commit itself to a net-zero target is a big breakthrough, especially since countries have been reluctant to pledge themselves to such long term commitments.
  • So far, the European Union was the only big emitter to have committed itself to a net-zero emission status by 2050.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Environmentalism at the core

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sustainable Development

Mains level : Paper 3- Sustainable development

The article explains the importance of focusing on the green supply chain for ensuring sustainability along with the progress of the organisations.

Sustainability as an essential issue

  • The U.N’s. Millennium Development Goals and the World Bank Group’s global practices have recognised sustainability as an essential issue of global importance.
  • Economic, social and other forms of sustainability have evolved over the years, but it is environmental sustainability that has gained significant popularity.

Economy and sustainability

  • Some firms have positioned environmental practices at the forefront due to legislation, and industry and government commitments.
  • Several firms have prioritised environmental practices due to compelling regulatory norms, and a potential to manage costs, risks and optimise eco-friendly practices.
  • However, organisations in the manufacturing sector focus on waste reduction and energy efficiency improvements excessively and fail to see the big picture of environmentalism.

Adopting green supply chains for long-lasting benefits

  • Only through organisational learning can people be urged to work towards long-lasting benefits.
  • In this context, green supply chain practices are useful.
  • These include green procurement, green manufacturing, green distribution, and reverse logistics.
  • With practices starting from acquisition of eco-friendly raw material to disposal/ reuse/ recycle of used products, employees, suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers will be able to integrate environmental concerns in the daily operations of a firm.
  • Thus, green supply chain practices enable organisational learning in environmental sustainability.
  •  Research shows that the positive impacts of environmentalism can only be felt in the long term when they get embedded into organisational learning systems through green supply chain practices.
  • The resultant learning system smoothens the knowledge flow in the organisation.

Focusing on linkages

  • Linkages between green supply chain practices, corporate environmental performance, corporate economic performance is necessary for an organisation’s progress and environmental protection.
  • When the different players of a manufacturing supply chain realise the inherent benefits associated with organisational learning dimensions, their drive towards environmentalism increases.

Conclusion

Policymakers should support this thinking by not merely imposing environmental practices as regulatory norms but by emphasising on the creation of green supply chain-based learning systems in manufacturing.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India must reject the inequitable climate proposal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paris Agreement

Mains level : Paper 3- Paris Agreement and India's progress on climate action

The article takes stock of India’s climate action and the issue of phasing out the use of coal.

Context

  • The UN Secretary-General called on India to give up coal immediately and reduce emissions by 45% by 2030.

State of India’s climate action

  • India’s renewable energy programme is ambitious and its energy efficiency programme is delivering, especially in the domestic consumption sector.
  • India is one of the few countries with at least 2° Celsius warming compliant climate action.
  • India is also among one of smaller list of countries on track to fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments.
  • India’s annual emissions, at 0.5 tonnes per capita, are well below the global average of 1.3 tonnes.
  • In terms of cumulative emissions, India’s contribution by 2017 was only 4% for a population of 1.3 billion.

How West is performing?

  • While talking about their phasing out of coal, the global North has obscured the reality of its continued dependence on oil and natural gas, both equally fossil fuels, with no timeline for their phaseout.
  • While it is amply clear that their commitments into the future set the world on a path for almost 3°C warming, they have diverted attention by fuzzy talk of “carbon neutrality” by 2050.
  • Environmentalists in developed countries, unable to summon up the domestic political support have turned to pressure the developing countries.
  • All of these are accompanied by increasing appeals to multilateral or First World financial and development institutions to force this agenda on to developing countries.

Implications of ending coal investment for India

  •  Currently, roughly 2 GW of coal-based generation is being decommissioned per year.
  •  But meeting the 2030 electricity consumption target of 1,580 to 1,660 units per person per year, will require anywhere between 650 GW to 750 GW of renewable energy.
  • Unlike the developed nations, India cannot substitute coal substantially by oil and gas and despite some wind potential, a huge part of this growth needs to come from solar.
  • However, renewables at best can meet residential consumption and some part of the demand from the service sector.
  • Currently, manufacturing growth powered by fossil fuel-based energy is itself a necessity.

Conclusion

India must unanimously reject the UN Secretary General’s call and reiterate its long-standing commitment to an equitable response to the challenge of global warming.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF 2.0)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CSCAF 2.0

Mains level : Not Much

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0.

About CSCAF 2.0

  • A framework is a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.
  • ​It was developed after a review of existing frameworks and assessment approaches adopted throughout the world.
  • It followed a series of an extensive consultative process with more than 26 organizations and 60 experts from different thematic areas.
  • The Climate Centre for Cities under National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is supporting MoHUA in implementation of CSCAF.

Various indicators of the framework

The framework has 28 indicators across five categories namely:

  1. Energy and Green Buildings
  2. Urban Planning, Green Cover & Biodiversity
  3. Mobility and Air Quality
  4. Water Management
  5. Waste Management

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Thinking of new recovery path

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Extended producer responsibility

Mains level : Paper 3- Coupling growth and environmental protection

Growth and environmental protection are not the polar opposites of each other. The article analyses the issue of balancing the two and using pandemic as an opportunity to evolve novel recovery path.

Pandemic: opportunity to new recovery path

  • The pandemic presents an opportunity for us to think of a new recovery path, one that can decouple economic growth and environmental degradation.
  • It becomes more important as India sees opportunities on the global call to diversify the supply chain and its internal call for Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • For that, we need to strengthen our production and manufacturing capabilities.

Issue of regulatory infrastructure

  • Monitoring and implementing environmental regulations is the biggest challenge we face.
  • Take the municipal solid waste rules.
  • Two decades after the regulations came into effect, their status not in good shape.
  • A comparatively recent regulation, centred around Extended Producer Responsibility, has also posed challenges in monitoring and implementation.
  • In a recent ruling, the judiciary not only ruled against the industry but also blamed officials responsible for implementing the regulations.

Focus on implementation and monitoring

  •  In the long run, diluting regulatory norms will create more adverse impacts resulting in greater community upsurge.
  • The focus has to be to improve the system’s capabilities to monitor and implement regulatory requirements.
  • There needs to be greater transparency and accountability; there is no dearth of technology to facilitate this.
  • The intention and capacity to take action, rectify and diffuse is critical.
  • The right ecosystem between the industry, community and regulator is crucial.
  • If the three stakeholders remain isolated and get activated only in a crisis, we will not make any progress towards solving the issue.

Way forward

  • We need to couple growth and environmental protection.
  • Environmental health will be the key enabler of socio-economic growth in the future.
  • Industry needs to realise that it is a part of an ecosystem and not at the centre of it.
  • Communities get impacted, either positively or negatively,  they need to empower themselves through education, so that they are not driven by the agenda of individuals with vested interests.
  • We have a challenge in implementing environmental regulations.
  • The community does not trust that the industry is meeting its compliance requirements, so, the regulatory system’s role is to improve this trust quotient.

Conclusion

As we plan our recovery past the pandemic, we have a good chance to create a new normal. We need to align towards a common cause and goals. We should not miss this chance.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

In news: Galapagos Islands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Galapagos Islands

Mains level : Not Much

Chinese ships are frequently entering Ecuador’s waters for commercial fishing near the Galapagos Islands.

Try this question from CSP 2018:

Q.Which one of the following can one comes across if one travels through the Strait of Malacca?

(a) Bali

(b) Brunei

(c) Java

(d) Singapore

The Galapagos Islands

  • Renowned worldwide for its unique species, the islands host a wide array of aquatic wildlife, including marine iguanas, fur seals, and waved albatrosses.
  • The giant tortoises found here – ‘Galápagos’ in old Spanish– give the islands its name.
  • Ecuador made a part of the Galapagos a wildlife sanctuary in 1935, and the sanctuary became the Galapagos National Park in 1959.
  • In 1978, the islands became UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.
  • It was here that the British naturalist Charles Darwin made key observations in 1835 that shaped his theory of evolution. Darwin described the islands as a “world in itself”.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Mapping: Mont Blanc

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mont Blanc

Mains level : Alps and its orogeny

The melting Mont Blanc glacier in the French Alps yielded a clutch of newspapers with banner headlines from when Indira Gandhi became India’s first and so far only woman Prime Minister in 1966.

Try this MCQ

Q.The Mont Blanc in the Alps can be located near the conflux of which of the following two countries?

a)France and Spain

b)France and Italy

c)Spain and Italy

d)Greece and Slovenia

Mont Blanc

  • Mont Blanc is the second-highest mountain in Europe after Mount Elbrus. It is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe.
  • It rises 4,808 m above sea level and is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence.
  • The mountain stands in a range called the Graian Alps, between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and Savoie and Haute-Savoie, France.
  • It is the tallest peak in the Alps and the highest summit in Western Europe, hence its epithet the “Roof of Europe”.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

What is the Arctic Heatwave warming up Siberia?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Permafrost, Arctic Heatwave

Mains level : Impact of climate changes

The Arctic Circle has recorded temperatures reaching over 38 degrees Celsius in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, likely an all-time high. The temperatures seem to have been 18 degree Celsius higher than normal in June a/c to the BBC.

Try this question from CS Mains 2017:

Q.How does the Cryosphere affect global climate?

What is happening in the Arctic?

  • Since the past month, the most above-average temperatures were recorded in Siberia, where they were about 10 degrees Celsius above normal.
  • Siberia has been recording higher-than-average surface air temperatures since January.

Are Arctic heatwaves common?

  • This is not the first time that rising temperatures in the Arctic have created alarm.
  • The rising temperatures are attributed to large-scale wind patterns that blasted the Arctic with heat, the absence of sea ice, and human-induced climate change, among other reasons.
  • There has been an increase of heatwave occurrences over the terrestrial Arctic. These frequent occurrences have already started to threaten local vegetation, ecology, human health and economy.

A cause of worry for all

  • Warming in the Arctic is leading to the thawing of once permanently frozen permafrost below ground.
  • This is alarming scientists because as permafrost thaws, carbon dioxide and methane previously locked up below ground is released.
  • These greenhouse gases can cause further warming, and further thawing of the permafrost, in a vicious cycle known as positive feedback.
  • The higher temperatures also cause land ice in the Arctic to melt at a faster rate, leading to greater run-off into the ocean where it contributes to sea-level rise.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Revealing the secrets Arctic holds

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Icesat 2, Cryosat 2

Mains level : Paper 1- Arctic ice and how it influence climate change

This article is about Polarstern, is an icebreaker, which traversed the Arctic Ocean to study the aspects related to ice there. Here, we will look at some of these aspects. These aspects are-monitoring of the ice, difficulty in measuring the thickness, rate of melting of ice and relations with cloud formation.

Arctic: A recorder and driver of climate change

How is it a recorder of climate change?

  • It is a recorder because of two co-related factors, these are-
  • 1) The visible difference between ice and water.
  • 2) The obvious relationship between global temperatures and the amount of ice around.
  • Two factors together shows in an easily graspable way how things are changing.
  • The extent of the Arctic sea ice in summer has declined by 30% in the past 30 years, and that loss is accelerating (see chart).

How is it a driver of climate change?

  • The Arctic is also a driver of climate change, because the whiteness of ice means it reflects sunlight back into space, thus cooling Earth.
  • Whereas the darkness of open water means it absorbs that light.
  • The less of the reflection of sunlight and the more absorption of light will result in a faster rise in global temperatures.

Monitoring the Arctic’s ice

  • At the moment this is monitored mainly by satellite.
  • Measuring the extent of the Arctic’s ice from space is easy.
  • Measuring its thickness is trickier.
  • From orbit, this is done by a mixture of radar and laser beam.
  • Icesat 2, an American craft, provides laser-altimeter data that record the height above sea level of the top of the snow that overlies the ice.
  •  Cryosat 2, a European one, uses radar to penetrate the snow and measure the height of the top of the ice itself.
  • The thickness of the ice in a particular place can then be calculated by applying Archimedes’ principle of floating bodies to the mixture of ice and snow, and subtracting the thickness of the snow.
  • But there is a view that the data collected by these two satellites may be inaccurate, leading to an overestimation of the ice’s thickness.

Let’s understand why the data about thickness could be inaccurate

  • When all is working perfectly, the return signal for Cryosat 2 comes exactly from the boundary between the ice and any overlying snow.
  • But, that this is not always what happens.
  • Variables such as layering within the snow, along with its temperature and salinity, might affect the returning radar signal by changing the snow’s structure and density.
  • This could cause the signal to be reflected from inside the snow layer, rather than from the boundary where it meets the ice.
  • If that were happening, it would create the illusion that the ice beneath the snow is thicker than is actually the case.

How topography of Arctic ice matters

  • Though sea ice is solid, it is not rigid.
  • It forms but a thin skin on the ocean—varying in depth from around 30cm in summer to a couple of metres in winter—so is readily moved by wind and current.
  • As the ice moves it stretches and cracks in some places.
  • Large cracks formed in this way are called leads, because they are wide enough to “lead” a ship.
  • In other places, by contrast, movement makes the ice thicker.
  • As individual panes of ice butt up against each other, they create ridges that can be metres high.
  •  But even from the ship’s deck one can watch leads opening and ridges forming around the vessel.
  • Observations suggest that winter the ice has been particularly mobile—and has thus become particularly rough, with a surprising number of ridges.

So, how these ridges affect the rate at which ice melts?

  • These ridges may affect the rate at which the ice melts—but to complicate matters, this could happen in two opposing ways.
  • Ridges make ice thicker, and thicker ice melts more slowly.
  • On the other hand, a ridge projects down into the sea as well as up into the air (Archimedes, again), so it may stir up water from below the surface.
  • Deep water is warmer than the surface layer, so this stirring would serve to increase melt rates.
  • Moreover, to add to the confusion, ridges are prone to having pieces of ice fall off them into the sea, to form small blocks known as brash.
  • This brash, having more surface area per unit volume than unbroken ice, melts faster.

How cloud formation is affected by cracks in Arctic ice

  • On most parts of Earth clouds form as droplets of water condense around “seeds” of dust or organic molecules.
  • In the Arctic, there is little dust.
  • Biological activity, too, is in short supply compared with elsewhere—and is, moreover, conducted mainly below the barrier of the sea ice.
  • It might, therefore, be expected that there would be few seeds present for clouds to form around.
  • And yet, clouds are present.
  • Cloud seeds there tended to be compounds containing sulphur, nitrogen, chlorine, bromine or iodine.
  • Presence of these molecules suggests their link with cracks in the ice sheets.
  • This means that more cracks in the ice sheet could lead to more clouds in the Arctic.
  • What overall effect that might have on the climate is unclear.
  • Summer clouds would reflect sunlight back into space, cooling the planet.
  • Those formed in winter, when the sun is below the horizon, would serve as insulation, warming it.
  •  Two opposite outcomes are possible—or perhaps the net effect will be that they cancel each other out.

Conclusion

Properly disentangling the interactions between Arctic ice, atmosphere and ocean life will require data collected across a full year—for the contrast between winter and summer at the poles is greater than anywhere else on the planet.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

“Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region” Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Representative Concentration Pathway

Mains level : Climate change assessment for India

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has released the “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region” Report.

This newscard discusses a very important concept: the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP). Note its definition.  It can be directly asked as a statement based on prelims MCQ.

Highlights of the report

  • Average surface air temperatures over India could rise by up to 4.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century as compared to the period between 1976 and 2005, according to the MoES report.
  • The rise in temperatures will be even more pronounced in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region where the average could reach 5.2°C.
  • The region is already highly vulnerable to climate-related variability in temperatures, rainfall and snowfall.
  • By 2100, the frequency of warm days and warm nights might also increase by 55 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, as compared to the period 1976-2005 under the RCP 8.5 scenario.
  • The incidences of heat waves over the country could also increase by three to four times. Their duration of occurrence might also increase which was already witnessed by the country in 2019.

A 100-year record

  • Between 1900 and 2018, the average temperatures of India rose by 0.7°C.
  • This rise in temperatures has been largely attributed to global warming due to GHG emissions and land use and land cover changes.
  • But it has also been slightly reduced by the rising aerosol emissions in the atmosphere that have an overall cooling characteristic.
  • The report predicts that monsoon rainfall could change by an average of 14 per cent by 2100 that could go as high as 22.5 per cent.
  • The report does not mention if this change will be an increase or a decrease but still represents variability.
  • It further says that the overall rainfall during the monsoon season has decreased by six per cent between 1950 and 2015.

Data on dry spells

  • The assessment also says that in the past few decades, there has been an increased frequency of dry spells during the monsoon season that has increased by 27 per cent between 1981-2011, as compared to 1951-1980.
  • The intensity of wet spells has also increased over the country, with central India receiving 75 per cent more extreme rainfall events between 1950 and 2015. This means that it either rains too little or too much.
  • One of the primary examples of this was the monsoon seasons of 2018 and 2019 where dry spells were broken by extremely heavy rainfall spells, creating a flood and drought cycle in many regions in India.

What is Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP)?

  • A Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) is a greenhouse gas concentration (not emissions) trajectory adopted by the IPCC.
  • It is defined as a radiative force in watt per square metre due to the rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere.
  • Four pathways were used for climate modelling and research for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in 2014.
  • The pathways describe different climate futures, all of which are considered possible depending on the volume of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted in the years to come.
  • The RCPs – originally RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6, and RCP8.5 – are labelled after a possible range of radiative forcing values in the year 2100 (2.6, 4.5, 6, and 8.5 W/m2, respectively).
  • Since AR5 the original pathways are being considered together with Shared Socioeconomic Pathways: as are new RCPs such as RCP1.9, RCP3.4 and RCP7.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

When did CO2 become our planet’s arch enemy?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CO2 assessment

Mains level : Not Much

Carbon dioxide was always essential for our planet. This newscard discusses when did it become too much.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q. In the context of mitigating the impending global warming due to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, which of the following can be the potential sites for carbon sequestration?

  1. Abandoned and uneconomic coal seams
  2. Depleted oil and gas reservoirs
  3. Subterranean deep saline formations

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

GHGs in atmosphere

  • The Earth’s atmosphere is made up of different gases. The temperature of the atmosphere depends on a balance between the incoming energy from the sun and the energy that bounces back into space.
  • Greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide play an important role in the atmosphere.
  • They absorb some of the sun’s heat and release it back in all directions, including back to the atmosphere.
  • Through this process, CO2 and other GHGs keep the atmosphere warmer than it would be without them.
  • However, fossil fuel-run industries and other human activities add GHGs to the atmosphere. This, in turn, increases atmospheric temperature, causing global warming.

Assessing the carbon level

  • In 1958, American scientist Charles David Keeling calculated the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere.
  • When he started his measurements in 1958, the CO2 levels were around 315 parts per million (PPM).
  • When he died in 2005, the project was taken over by his son Ralph Keeling. By 2014, CO2 levels had increased to about 400 PPM.
  • With his systematic study of atmospheric CO2, Keeling became the first person to alert the world about the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Reasons for rising CO2 levels

  • Scientists first argued that the increasing release of methane and CO2 was due to agriculture and livestock.
  • But, with the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the use of fossil fuels and CO2 levels rose simultaneously.
  • Nations that underwent the Industrial Revolution used huge amounts of fossil fuels and became centres of high CO2 emissions, while nations with an agrarian economy emitted less GHGs.
  • Over the years, as CO2 levels increased, it sparked off debates and arguments between the GHG-emitting rich industrial nations and the victims of global warming — the poorer nations.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Crisis of today should not blind us to the crisis of tomorrow

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cyclone Nisarga and Amphan

Mains level : Paper 1- Climate change

Covid-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the governments across the world. And the destruction caused by it would impact not only our present but the future as well. So, what this means to our climate future? First and foremost, it will leave the governments with less fund to invest for the greener outcomes. What would be the other impacts? And how can we avoid turning blind eye to the crises waiting for us in the near future? Read the article to know…

Cyclones amid pandemic-what do it signal?

  • The very language used to describe the effects of climate change is now being deployed, correctly, to shape our understanding of a covid-ravaged near future: poverty, the failure of markets, uncertainty, and an overwhelmed government.
  • In less than a month, we have been given a glimpse of how the climate crisis can yank at the seams of a state already undone.
  • We saw Cyclone Amphan transform from a tropical storm to one of the largest cyclones South Asia has ever seen in a matter of hours, aided by warmer than usual waters in the Bay of Bengal.
  • We also saw Cyclone Nisarga barrel down on Maharashtra, the second pre-monsoon cyclone to hit the west coast in 127 years.
  • Governments would have been hard-pressed to deal with such extremes even in the best of times.

So, how COVID-19 would impact response to climate change?

  •  There are two strands of opinion.
  • The optimistic one sees this as a moment to remake our states and societies in a measured response.
  • This includes directing economic packages to areas that increase our resilience to natural disasters and technologies that reduce our emissions.
  • This could be an opportunity to reinforce sustainable behaviour — fewer morning commutes and less air travel, for example.
  • The other strand is more dire, arguing that this will amount to a lost decade or two as our attention is focused on keeping the teetering ship of economy afloat.
  • In this reading, present concerns will trump preparations for an uncertain future.
  • Between these two strands there is consensus that we are at a critical juncture.
  • What we do now will determine the flow of events decades into the future.

What our climate future holds?

We will have to face the following 3 problems in the future owing to the Covid-19 pandemic today.

1. Scarcity of funds

  • It has been two months since India’s lockdown, and we know enough to have a rational conversation about our climate future.
  • Perhaps the most important news relates to public and private debt.
  • The government has raised its borrowing limit, states will need to borrow more to tide over shortfalls and the private sector has seen returns from investments dry out.
  • All three are already heavily indebted, meaning the cost of capital for future borrowing will only grow.
  • That leaves limited fiscal room to finance the building blocks of resilience: everything from grain to health, employment schemes, irrigation, efficient water systems and river management infrastructure.
  • It could mean that efforts to reduce our energy emissions are left without patient pools of long-term capital.

2. Underdeveloped knowledge infrastructure

  • The knowledge infrastructure needed to react to climate change might be left similarly underdeveloped.
  • Climate change distinguishes itself from other policy fields in the wide range of analytical tasks it demands, from predicting weather trends to understanding how specific seed varieties react to droughts.
  • Thinking about climate change requires a lot of people exploring varied questions simultaneously.
  • That involves funding an ecosystem of thinkers from diverse disciplines.
  • Only the state can provide for multi-year studies, institutional support and the like.
  • These are inherently long-term investments and only really start paying off over decades.
  • It means that hamstrung investment in coming years will leave a knowledge vacuum in the future.

3. Impact on the psychology of the government

  • The Indian government, reacting to a million crises erupting across the economy, will be hard-pressed to plan for a hazy but sinister future.
  • Promises of a greener, less turbulent future will falter against the turbulence of today.
  • This instinct will be shared by governments across the world.
  • This might well numb the effects of the global climate negotiation architecture.

Way forward

  • Crafting a response that carefully balances present and future will take a great deal of collective effort.
  • Foremost, it will require policy ideas that deliberately marry employment and industrial priorities with green outcomes.
  • Ideas such as pushing to manufacture solar equipment or electric vehicles in India should, at some point, coalesce into something that looks like a climate plan for the country.
  • This task will fall to universities, NGOs, think tanks and individuals working together in disciplined debate.

Consider the question “Do you agree with the view that the corona crisis would adversely impact our efforts towards mitigating the impact of climate change? Giver reasons in support of your argument.”

Conclusion

We should be careful not to drag ourselves through one crisis only to emerge into another longer, less predictable, and unstoppable one. So, balancing the present problems and their solutions with an eye on a certain and stable future is the need of the hour.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Will leaders act on the climate crisis as they did Covid-19?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Carbon Dioxide concentration in atmosphere

Mains level : Paper 3- Climate change

In the context of climate change, the rising concentration of carbon dioxide and rising global temperature are inextricably linked with each other. This article elaborates on two interlinked and rising curves-CO2 and temperature. The article is concluded on the positive note that leaders would act on climate change with same urgency as Covid.

The upward journey of two curves

  • Two interrelated curves began their upward trend two centuries ago with the advent of the industrial age.
  • The first curve was the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide or, more generally, all greenhouse gases, GHGs.
  • And the second was the average global temperature curve.

CO2 concentration at 407 ppm: But did we get here?

  • Actually, the CO2 curve began its upward march about 18,000 years ago when it was a little under 200 parts per million (ppm).
  • And earth was much colder back then.
  • By the time it reached 270 ppm about 11,500 years ago, the warmer conditions accompanying this curve made it possible for the emergence of agriculture.
  • Over the past million years, CO2 levels never exceeded 280-300 ppm.
  • They always went back to 200 ppm before rising again in a cyclical fashion.
  • They remained steady at close to 280 ppm for 10,000 years until, beginning in the mid-19th century.
  • They began to rise again as humans burnt coal and oil to fuel the industrial revolution, and burnt forests to expand agriculture and settlements.
  • From a mere 0.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in 1850, annual emissions increased to 36 billion tonnes by 2018.
  • If all this CO2 had accumulated in the atmosphere, we can say that human life would have been altered beyond recognition.
  • Nature has been rather kind to us so far — about one-half of all CO2 emissions have been sanitised from the atmosphere, equally by growing vegetation on land and by absorption in the oceans.
  • Thus, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 407 ppm in 2018, a level last experienced by earth some three million years ago.

Global temperature up by 1 degree Celcius

  •  From 1850 onwards, for over a century, the global temperature showed a slight warming trend.
  • But there was nothing suggestive of anything serious.
  • From 1975 onwards, the temperature graph has shown a distinct, upward trend.
  • By 2015, the globe had heated by a full degree Celsius relative to a hundred years previously.
  • Climate modellers unequivocally project that under the current trends of emissions the globe will heat up by 4˚C by the end of the century.
  • he 2003 European heat wave killed over 70,000 people.
  • The years 2015-19 have globally been the warmest years on record.
  • Leave aside the Amazon fire of 2019, the bush fires of 2019-20 in Australia were unprecedented in their scale and devastation.
  • March 2020 has been the second warmest March on record.

But climate change is not just about temperature rise

  • Climate change involves not just a change in temperature but every other component of weather, including rainfall, humidity and wind speed.
  • Indirect effects follow, such as a rise in sea levels from melting glaciers.
  • Globally there have been several extreme weather events such as hurricanes, heat waves or droughts.
  • While no single event can be directly attributed to climate change, the collective trends are consistent with climate change predictions.

Warning for India

  • The Climate Impact Lab at the University of Chicago put out a warning for India last year.
  • It says that if global CO2 emissions continue to gallop at the present rate, average summer temperatures would rise by 4˚C in most States.
  • Extremely hot days (days above 35˚C), which were only five days in 2010, would increase to 15 days by 2050 and to 42 days by 2100 on average across all districts.
  • A more moderate emissions scenario, as a result of countries largely fulfilling their commitments under the Paris Agreement, would keep average global temperature rise below 2˚C compared to pre-industrial levels.

Let’s look into the financial dimension of tackling climate change

  • The most common excuse is that the world cannot afford to curb GHG emissions for fear of wrecking the economy.
  • An article in Nature in 2019 highlighted the financial dimensions of tackling the looming climate crisis.
  • Apparently, the wealthy nations are spending over $500 billion each year internally on projects aimed at reducing emissions.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, however, estimates that a sustained annual investment of $2.4 trillion in more efficient energy systems is needed until 2035 in order to keep warming below the more ambitious 1.5˚C relative to pre-industrial levels.
  • To put this in perspective, that is about 2.5% of the global GDP.

What happened to the $100 billion per year aid to poor countries?

  • Some of the wrangling over money relates to the amounts that the wealthy nations, agreed to pay other countries to cope with climate change.
  • Underlying idea was that these countries have caused most of the GHGs resulting in global warming,
  • At the UN Climate Conference in 2009, the richest nations had pledged to provide $100 billion in aid each year by 2020 to the poorer countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • In 2017, for which data are available, only $71 billion had been provided.
  • And most of the money was spent on mitigation and less than 20% towards climate adaptation.
  • Such numbers had been challenged prior to the 2015 Paris Summit by many countries, including India.
  • It was challenged because much of the so-called aid provided did not come out of dedicated climate funds but, rather, development funds or simply loans which had to be repaid.
  • It thus seems unlikely that the rich countries will deliver $100 billion in tangible climate finance during 2020.

Time to act

  • COVID-19 has unwittingly given humanity a brief respite from the climate change curve.
  • Commentators are already talking about a paradigm shift in the structure and functioning of societies once the pandemic subsides.
  • This is also a make-or-break moment for the climate trajectory which has to be flattened within a few years if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.
  • Nature’s kindness is not expected to last beyond a 2˚C rise in temperature as the carbon sequestered into vegetation will be thrown back into the atmosphere.
  • Also remember that earth has already warmed by 1˚C and we really have only another 1˚C as a safety margin or 0.5˚C if we are concerned about island nations.

Consider the mains question asked by the UPSC in 2017-‘Climate change’ is a global problem. How India will be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India will be affected by climate change?

Conclusion

There is no substitute to reducing GHG emissions. Technologists, economists and social scientists must plan for a sustainable planet based on the principles of equity and climate justice within and across nations. It is the responsibility of leaders to alter their mindset and act on the looming climate crisis with the same alacrity they have shown on COVID-19.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Environment Performance Index 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EPI

Mains level : India's EPI and various loopholes in its climate action policy

India has secured 168 ranks in the 12th edition of the biennial Environment Performance Index (EPI Index 2020).

CSP 2019 has been a year with two questions based on rankings and indices viz. the EoDB index and Global Competitiveness Index.  Note all such indices and their publishing agencies here at  [Prelims Spotlight] Important reports and indexes

About EPI

  • The EPI measures the environmental performance of 180 countries.
  • It is biennially released by the Yale University.
  • It considers 32 indicators of environmental performance, giving a snapshot of the 10-year trends in environmental performance at the national and global levels.

The performance on climate change was assessed based on the following indicators —

  • Adjusted emission growth rates;
  • Composed of growth rates of four greenhouse gases and one pollutant;
  • Growth rate in carbon dioxide emissions from land cover;
  • Greenhouse gas intensity growth rate; and
  • Greenhouse gas emissions per capita.

Performance of the South Asian Region

  • The 11 countries lagging behind India were — Burundi, Haiti, Chad, Solomon Islands, Madagascar, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Liberia.
  • All South Asian countries, except Afghanistan, were ahead of India in the ranking.

India’s performance

  • A ten-year comparison progress report in the index showed that India slipped on climate-related parameters.
  • India scored below the regional average score on all five key parameters on environmental health, including air quality, sanitation and drinking water, heavy metals and waste management.
  • It has also scored below the regional average on parameters related to biodiversity and ecosystem services too.
  • Among South Asian countries, India was at the second position (rank 106) after Pakistan on ‘climate change’. Pakistan’s score (50.6) was the highest under the category.

Remarks for India

  • The report indicated that black carbon, carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse emissions per capita increased in 10 years.
  • India needs to re-double national sustainability efforts on all fronts, according to the index.
  • It needs to focus on a wide spectrum of sustainability issues, with a high-priority to critical issues such as air and water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Expansion of the Amery Ice Shelf

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ice Shelves, Amery Ice Shelf

Mains level : Impact of climate changes

 

There would be a 24% increase in the expansion of the Amery Ice Shelf (AIS) boundaries in Antarctica by 2021 and another 24 per cent by 2026 from its 2016 positions, the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa has predicted.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Discuss the interrelation between Cryosphere and Climate change in context to the melting ice shelves in the Antarctic region.

Amery Ice Shelf (AIS)

  • The Amery Ice Shelf is a broad ice shelf in Antarctica at the head of Prydz Bay between the Lars Christensen Coast and Ingrid Christensen Coast.
  • It is part of Mac. Robertson Land.
  • The name “Cape Amery” was applied to a coastal angle mapped on February 11, 1931.
  • The AIS is one of the largest glacier drainage basins in the world, located on the east coast of Antarctica, at about 70ºS Latitude, 70ºE Longitude.
  • The AIS dynamics and mass balance help in understanding the changes in the global climate scenario.

Significance of the study

  • NCPOR observations revealed a critical cooling of the sea surface temperature, resulting in an advancement of the ice shelf by 88 per cent in the past 15 years.
  • These changes would contribute in a major way to climate variability.
  • The study clearly demonstrated the future dynamism of ocean heat fluctuation and Antarctic Amery ice shelf mass shifting-extent.

Back2Basics: Ice Shelves

  • The floating sheets of ice called ‘ice shelves’ play a multi-faceted role in maintaining the stability of a glacier. Ice shelves connect a glacier to the landmass.
  • The ice sheet mass balance, sea stratification, and bottom water formation are important parameters for the balancing of a glacier. Latent and sensible heat processes do play important roles here.
  • The insulation of ice shelves from atmospheric forcing is dependent on a temperature gradient that the ocean cavity beneath the ice shelves provides.
  • It is the pressure exerted by the ice shelves upon the ocean cavity that determines this temperature gradient.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] Seasonal rapid advancement of Surging Glaciers in Karakoram Range

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Glaciers mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Glacial surges and their impacts

Indian researchers have found a seasonal advancement in 220 surge-type glaciers in the Karakoram Range of Ladakh.

Points to note:

1) Open you map and revise the glaciers of Himalayan region.

2) Glacial landforms as Geographic phenomenon.

What are Glacial Surges?

Click here to see the animated view

  • Glacial surges are short-lived events where a glacier can advance substantially, moving at velocities up to 100 times faster than normal.
  • Until recently, most glaciologists believed that a glacier’s physical characteristics, such as its thickness and shape, and the properties of the terrain it sits on determining whether it can surge.
  • Now, it is proved to believe an external factor also plays a major role: water from precipitation and melting.
  • Pooling on the surface, it can infiltrate the glacier through crevasses and reach its base, warming, lubricating, and, ultimately, releasing the ice.

Why surging in the Karakoram is a concern?

  • The behaviour of these glaciers, which represent 40% of the total glaciated area of the Karakoram, goes against the normal trend.
  • Surging of glaciers is potentially catastrophic as it can lead to the destruction of villages, roads and bridges.
  • It can also advance across a river valley and form the ice-dammed lake.
  • These lakes can form catastrophic outburst floods.
  • Therefore, monitoring of glacier surges, ice-dammed lake formation, and drainage is of paramount importance.

Which are these glaciers?

  • The scientists focused on the Shispare and Muchuhar glaciers, former tributaries of the once larger Hasanabad Glacier situated in Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan.

Significance of the study

  • The Surge-type glaciers oscillate between brief (months to years) rapid flow and lengthy (tens to hundreds of years) slow flow or stagnation, which are called the ‘active’ (or ‘surge’) and ‘quiescent’ phases, respectively.
  • This unsteady glacier flow makes it difficult to accurately assess individual glacier mass balances using in-situ observations.
  • The study will help to understand the diversity of glacial behaviour and help make accurate assessments of individual glacier mass balances for disaster planning and management.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

How the ozone layer hole over Arctic closed?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ozone, Polar Vortex

Mains level : Ozone hole healing

Recently the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) announced that a hole in the Arctic ozone layer, believed to be the biggest reported, has closed.

What healed the hole in the Ozone?

  • The ozone hole’s closing was because of a phenomenon called the polar vortex, and not because of reduced pollution levels due to Covid-19 lockdowns around the world.
  • The hole in the North Pole’s ozone layer, which was first detected in February, had since reached a maximum extension of around 1 million sq km.

Ozone hole

  • The ‘ozone hole’ is not really a hole — it refers to a region in the stratosphere where the concentration of ozone becomes extremely low in certain months.
  • Ozone, made up of three oxygen atoms, occurs naturally in small amounts.
  • Roughly 10 km to 40 km up in the atmosphere (the layer called the stratosphere), the ozone layer is sunscreen, shielding Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
  • Manufactured chemicals deplete the ozone layer. Each spring over Antarctica (it now springs there), atmospheric ozone is destroyed by chemical processes.
  • This creates the ozone hole, which occurs because of special meteorological and chemical conditions that exist in that region.

The importance of the ozone layer

  • Ozone (chemically O3, a molecule of three oxygen atoms) is found mainly in the upper atmosphere, an area called the stratosphere, between 10 and 50 km from the earth’s surface.
  • Though it is talked of as a layer, ozone is present in the atmosphere in rather low concentrations.
  • Even at places where this layer is thickest, there are not more than a few molecules of ozone for every million air molecules.
  • They perform a very important function. By absorbing the harmful ultraviolet radiations from the sun, the ozone molecules eliminate a big threat to life forms on earth.
  • UV rays can cause skin cancer and other diseases and deformities in plants and animals.

Why this year’s hole was massive?

  • This year, the ozone depletion over the Arctic was much larger.
  • Scientists believe that unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, were responsible.
  • Cold temperatures (below -80°C), sunlight, wind fields and substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were responsible for the degradation of the Arctic ozone layer.
  • Although Arctic temperatures do not usually fall as low as in Antarctica, this year, powerful winds flowing around the North Pole trapped cold air within what is known as the polar vortex.
  • By the end of the polar winter, the first sunlight over the North Pole initiated this unusually strong ozone depletion—causing the hole to form.

How long it will take for complete recovery?

  • As per the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion data of 2018, the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3 per cent per decade since 2000.
  • At these projected rates, the Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is predicted to recover by around 2030, followed by the Southern Hemisphere around 2050, and polar regions by 2060.

Also read: Polar Vortex

What’s causing extreme cold in US Midwest

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Third mass bleaching of Great Barrier Reef

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Coral bleaching

Mains level : Coral reefs and their significance

A survey has found record sea temperatures had caused the third mass bleaching of the 2,300-kilometre Great Barrier Reef system in just five years.

What is Coral Bleaching?

  • When corals face stress by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.
  • This phenomenon is called coral bleaching.
  • The pale white colour is of the translucent tissues of calcium carbonate which are visible due to the loss of pigment-producing zooxanthellae.

About Great Barrier Reef

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
  • It is stretched for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres.
  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

Importance of Corals

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth.

  • They support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species.
  • This biodiversity is considered key to finding new medicines for the 21st century. Many drugs are now being developed from coral reef animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.
  • Healthy coral reefs support commercial and subsistence fisheries as well as jobs and businesses through tourism and recreation.
  • Local economies receive billions of dollars from visitors to reefs through diving tours, recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses based near reef ecosystems.
  • Coral reef structures also buffer shorelines against 97 percent of the energy from waves, storms, and floods, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion.
  • When reefs are damaged or destroyed, the absence of this natural barrier can increase the damage to coastal communities from normal wave action and violent storms.

Back2Basics

Coral Reefs

  • Coral reefs are built by and made up of thousands of tiny animals—coral “polyps”—that are related to anemones and jellyfish.
  • Polyps are shallow water organisms which have a soft body covered by a calcareous skeleton. The polyps extract calcium salts from sea water to form these hard skeletons.
  • The polyps live in colonies fastened to the rocky sea floor.
  • The tubular skeletons grow upwards and outwards as a cemented calcareous rocky mass, collectively called corals.
  • When the coral polyps die, they shed their skeleton on which new polyps grow.
  • The cycle is repeated for over millions of years leading to accumulation of layers of corals shallow rock created by these depositions is called reef.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Earth Hour

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Earth Hour

Mains level : Climate activism

The Earth Hour, observed annually on the last Saturday of March, was recently celebrated.

Earth Hour

  • Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
  • It is held annually encouraging individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights, for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on a specific day towards the end of March as a symbol of commitment to the planet.
  • It was started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia, in 2007.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

New environment impact norm cuts time for public hearing

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EIA in India

Mains level : Read the attached story

A set of key updates to India’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Act has been proposed to reduce the time given to people to air objections.

Features proposed by the amendment

  • The draft EIA notification proposes to be an update to the EIA of 2006, which specifies a “minimum of 30 days” for people to respond.
  • The current version of the update, which will likely become law in 60 days, gives a “minimum of 20 days” of notice period.
  • The public hearing process is considered a key component of the EIA. An organisation has to submit a detailed plan, as part of the EIA process that details the nature, need, potential impact and remedial measures, if their proposed infrastructure project threatens to significantly impact a region.
  • It also requires that the public-hearing process be wrapped up in 40 days, as opposed to the existing norm of 45 days.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in India

  • EIA is a management tool to minimize adverse impacts of developmental projects on the environment and to achieve sustainable development through timely, adequate, corrective and protective mitigation measures.
  • The MoEFCC uses EIA Notification 2006 as a major tool for minimizing the adverse impact of rapid industrialization on the environment and for reversing those trends which may lead to climate change in long run.
  • EIA has now been made mandatory under the Environmental (Protection Act, 1986 for 29 categories of developmental activities involving investments of Rs. 50 crores and above.

EIA stages

  1. Screening: This stage decides which projects a full or partial assessment need study.
  2. Scoping: This stage decides which impacts are necessary to be assessed. This is done based on legal requirements, international conventions, expert knowledge and public engagement. This stage also finds out alternate solutions that avoid or at least reduce the adverse impacts of the project.
  3. Assessment & evaluation of impacts and development of alternatives: This stage predicts and identifies the environmental impacts of the proposed project and also elaborates on the alternatives.
  4. EIA Report: In this reporting stage, an environmental management plan (EMP) and also a non-technical summary of the project’s impact is prepared for the general public. This report is also called the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
  5. Decision making: The decision on whether the project is to be given approval or not and if it is to be given, under what conditions.
  6. Monitoring, compliance, enforcement and environmental auditing: This stage monitors whether the predicted impacts and the mitigation efforts happen as per the EMP.

Scope of Environmental Clearance (EC)

  • Environmental clearance is required in respect of all new projects or activities listed in the Schedule to the 2006 notification and their expansion and modernization, including any change in product –mix.
  • Since EIA 2006 the various developmental projects have been re-categorised into category ‘A’ and category ‘B’ depending on their threshold capacity and likely pollution potential.
  • They require prior EC respectively from MOEFCC or the concerned State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs).
  • Where state level authorities have not been constituted, the clearance would be provided by the MOEFCC.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Climate change and geopolitics converge to yield locust swarms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Protecting Indian agriculture against the locust attacks.

Context

Abnormal rainfall in the Arabian desert and an effect of the Yemen war have revived a menace that could hit Indian crops

Butterfly effect- a fitting metaphor for locust attack

  • What is the butterfly effect? The butterfly effect occurs when a trivial cause, such as a butterfly fluttering its wings somewhere in an Amazon rainforest, triggers a series of events that end up having a massive impact elsewhere.
    • Edward Lorenz, the American meteorologist who coined the phrase in the early 1960s, came up with it while building a mathematical model to predict weather patterns.
    • Fitting metaphor: It is a fitting metaphor to explain a “plague” that is currently destroying vegetation and livelihoods in East Africa, the Arabian peninsula, Iran, Pakistan and India.

The impact of the locust attack in the world

  • Impact in Africa: Several countries in Africa and Asia have been dealing with “the curse of good rains”: Massive swarms—called “plagues”—of the desert locust.
    • Swarms as large as 2,400 sq. km, comprising 200 billion insects, have already damaged over 70,000 hectares of crops in Kenya and around 30,000 hectares in Ethiopia.
  • Last month, Pakistan declared a national emergency over locusts.
  • Impact in India: In India, several districts in Gujarat and Rajasthan have been affected.
    • Rajasthan has announced a compensation of ₹13,500 per hectare to affected farmers.
    • While locust swarms continue to plague African countries, for now, the outbreak has tapered down in India with swarms headed back towards Sindh and Balochistan.
  • Possibility of return of the locusts: The expectation is that the locusts will be back in June, by which time their numbers would have grown fivefold.

What are the locusts and how they form swarms?

  • Solitary creature: The brown-coloured desert locust usually lives as a solitary creature in the desert and bushlands.
  • Transformation and swarm formation: When several of them gather in close proximity, they undergo a dramatic physical transformation, change colour to black and bright yellow, become gregarious, and start moving around in swarms.
  • Contribution of moisture and temperature: Locusts lay their eggs a few inches under the soil in the presence of moisture, which hatch faster under higher temperatures.
    • Similarly, the flightless nymphs mature faster under warmer conditions and, within weeks, turn into adults that can form swarms of hundreds of millions of insects that can fly over 100km per day.
  • The scale of destruction: Each locust can eat its own body weight—around 2-3 grams—every day.
    • Which means that a swarm can consume hundreds of tonnes of vegetation that it encounters every day.

Change in the behaviour pattern

  • Limited to recession areas: Normally, desert locusts are limited to a recession area enveloping the African Sahel to the west and Rajasthan to the east.
    • After international preventive control measures started in the 1940s, the intensity and spread of these swarms reduced, resulting only in regional plagues.

What contributed to this year’s infestation?

  • Two factors contributed to this year’s infestation:
    • Abnormal weather conditions.
    • Region’s geopolitics.
  • Abnormal weather conditions: In 2018, two cyclones a few months apart delivered rain to the Rub al Khali, the remote desert called the “Empty Quarter” of the Arabian peninsula.
    • The resulting ephemeral lakes created new breeding grounds for the desert locust in a poorly monitored region.
  • Region’s geopolitics: Insecticide spraying operations were not conducted because of the war in Yemen.
    • The breeding continued before the swarms crossed the Gulf into Iran and the Red Sea to Ethiopia and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.
    • Here, too, conflict and political unrest limited control operations, leading to further breeding.
  • Another cyclone in 2019: In December 2019, another cyclonic storm hit the Horn of Africa, creating conditions for yet more breeding.
    • Today, the situation is dire in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and is worsening in Uganda and Tanzania.

How affected countries are responding to the infestation?

  • Pakistan declared national emergency: Across the Persian Gulf, the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan and Sindh were initially affected, and when Punjab was hit, the government declared a national emergency and approached China for assistance.
  • How India is responding? Across the border, several districts in Gujarat and Rajasthan were affected and neighbouring states, including Uttar Pradesh, are now on alert.
    • Cooperation between India and Pakistan: Despite political tensions, Indian and Pakistani locust control officials met almost once a month over the second half of 2019 to exchange information, if not coordinate control efforts.
    • So far, India’s surveillance, preparedness and response have been competent and effective.
    • The national Locust Warning Organization was set up in 1939 and is well connected to international institutions created to manage locust risks.
    • It publishes weekly bulletins and even has a Twitter handle.
    • Bulletins show when locusts were detected, the location, extent and tonnage of insecticide sprayed and the risk of future infestation.
  • China’s preparedness: China is largely protected against locust plagues by geographical barriers, but is relatively vulnerable in the Xinjiang region.
    • Past similar event: Faced with a similar situation a couple of decades ago, the Chinese government had deployed hundreds of thousands of ducks that would eat the locusts in response to the blowing of a whistle.
    • Reports in the Chinese media indicate that Beijing plans to do the same this year.

 The immediate concern in India

  • Factors that could worsen the problem: Climate change, with higher temperatures and changes in the Indian Ocean Dipole, could worsen the locust problem for India in coming years.
  • The problem could overwhelm the capacity to control: The immediate concern is that by June 2020, there will probably be extraordinarily large swarms in India and that these could overwhelm the country’s current capacity to control them.
    • Preparedness measures by the government: The Union government is procuring additional spraying equipment and planning helicopter and drone-based control operations should the need arise.
    • Containing the swarms at India’s border states is crucial, as India’s agricultural heartland lies just beyond.

Conclusion

The government should take stock of its preparedness to deal with the imminent locust attack in June take necessary actions to deal with the menace as it could threaten India’s food security and economy.

 

 

 

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Explained: Marine Heatwave (MHW)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Marine Heatwave

Mains level : Read the attached story

 

 

Scientists have observed unusually high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Pacific Ocean around the western coast of the United States.  This marine heatwave (MHW), covering an area of roughly 6.5 million square kilometres, can affect marine life and lead to droughts in the surrounding regions.

What are MHWs?

  • We know that heatwaves occur in the atmosphere. We are all familiar with these extended periods of excessively hot weather.
  • However, heatwaves can also occur in the ocean and these are known as marine heatwaves, or MHWs.
  • These marine heatwaves, when ocean temperatures are extremely warm for an extended period of time can have significant impacts on marine ecosystems and industries.

When do they occur?

  • Heatwaves can happen in summer and also in winter, where they are known as “winter warm-spells”.
  • These winter events can have important impacts, such as in the southeast of Australia where the spiny sea urchin can only colonize further south when winter temperatures are above 12 °C.

What causes marine heatwaves?

  • Marine heatwaves can be caused by a whole range of factors, and not all factors are important for each event.
  • The most common drivers of marine heatwaves include ocean currents which can build up areas of warm water and air-sea heat flux, or warming through the ocean surface from the atmosphere.
  • Winds can enhance or suppress the warming in a marine heatwave, and climate modes like El Niño can change the likelihood of events occurring in certain regions.
  • MHWs can be caused due to large-scale drivers of the Earth’s climate like the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Impacts of the MHWs

  • Marine heatwaves affect ecosystem structure, by supporting certain species and suppressing others.
  • For example, after the 2011 marine heatwave in Western Australia the fish communities had a much more “tropical” nature than previously and switched from kelp forests to seaweed turfs.
  • Marine heatwaves can cause economic losses through impacts on fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Temperature-sensitive species such as corals are especially vulnerable to MHWs. In 2016, marine heatwaves across northern Australia led to severe bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

How do we measure marine heatwaves?

  • A marine heatwave occurs when seawater temperatures exceed a seasonally-varying threshold (usually the 90th percentile) for at least 5 consecutive days.
  • Successive heatwaves with gaps of 2 days or less are considered part of the same event.

Why study MHWs?

  • MHWs are increasing in frequency due to climate change. MHWs increased by 54 per cent in the last 30 years.
  • Despite their potential impact on the health of marine ecosystems, MHWs remain one of the least studied consequences of global warming.

Way Forward

  • Marine heatwaves clearly have the potential to devastate marine ecosystems and cause economic losses in fisheries, aquaculture, and ecotourism industries.
  • However, their effects are often hidden from view under the waves until it is too late.
  • By raising general awareness of these phenomena, and by improving our scientific understanding of their physical properties and ecological impacts, we can better predict future conditions and protect vulnerable marine habitats and resources.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Red Snow in Antarctica

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Red snow , How it occurs

Mains level : Impact of climate change on Antarctica

 

 

Over the last few weeks, photographs of “red snow” off the coast of Antarctica’s northernmost peninsula, have gone viral. “Red snow” or “watermelon” is a phenomenon that has been known since ancient times. Now, it raises concerns about climate change.

Red snow in Antarctica: Why it happens 

  • Aristotle is believed to be one of the first to give a written account of red snow, over 2,000 years ago.
  • What Aristotle described as worms and grub, the scientific world today calls algae.
  • This alga species, Chlamydomonas Chlamydomonas nivalis, exists in the snow in the polar and glacial regions and carries a red pigment to keep itself warm.

Signs of faster melting 

  • In turn, the red snow causes the surrounding ice to melt faster. The more the algae packed together, the redder the snow.
  • And the darker the tinge, the more the heat absorbed by the snow. Subsequently, the ice melts faster.
  • While the melt is good for the microbes that need the liquid water to survive and thrive, it’s bad for glaciers that are already melting from a myriad of other causes, the study said.
  • These algae change the snow’s albedo — which refers to the amount of light or radiation the snow surface is able to reflect back. Changes in albedo lead to more melting.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various initiaitives mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Not Much

 

 

The INCOIS Hyderabad has launched a trio of products for users in the marine realm.

About INCOIS

  • The institute is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • INCOIS prioritises requests for specific services from its diverse user community that ranges right from fishermen to offshore oil exploration industries.

Products launched:

Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS)  

The SVAS is an innovative impact-based advisory and forecast service system for small vessels operating in Indian coastal waters.

  • The SVA system warns users about potential zones where vessel overturning can take place, ten days in advance.
  • The advisories are valid for small vessels of beam width up to 7 m.
  • This limit covers the entire range of beam widths of the fishing vessels used in all the 9 coastal states and union territories of India.
  • The warning system is based on the  ‘Boat Safety Index’ (BSI) derived from wave model forecast outputs such as significant wave height, wave steepness, directional spread and the rapid development of wind at sea which is boat-specific.

Swell Surge Forecast System (SSFS)

SSFS is an innovative system designed for the prediction of Kallakkadal/Swell Surge that occurs along the Indian coast, particularly the west coast.

  • Kallakadal/Swell surge are flash-flood events that take place without any noticeable advance change in local winds or any other apparent signature in the coastal environment.
  • Hence the local population remains totally unaware of these flooding events until they actually occur. Such events are intermittent throughout the year.
  • Kallakkadal is a colloquial term used by Kerala fishermen to refer to the freaky flooding episodes and in 2012 UNESCO formally accepted this term for scientific use.
  • Kallakkadal are caused by meteorological conditions in the Southern Ocean, south of 30°S.
  • These swells once generated, travel northward and reach the Indian coasts in 3-5 days time, creating havoc in the coastal areas.
  • The system will now predict Kallakkadal and warnings will be given to concerned authorities at least 2-3 days in advance, which will help the local authorities for contingency plans and to reduce damage.

Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS)

  • The increasing frequency of algal blooms is a major concern due to its ill effects on the fishery, marine life and water quality.
  • INCOIS has developed a service for “Detection and Monitoring of Bloom in the Indian Seas”.
  • The target users are fishermen, marine fishery resource managers, researchers, ecologists and environmentalists.
  • The service also complements INCOIS’ marine fishing advisories i.e. Potential Fishing Zone advisories.
  • INCOIS-ABIS will provide near-real-time information on spatio-temporal occurrence and spread of phytoplankton blooms over the North Indian Ocean.
  • In addition, four regions have been identified as bloom hotspots viz.

a) North Eastern Arabian Sea

b) coastal waters off Kerala

c) Gulf of Mannar and

d) coastal waters of Gopalpur

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NEED

Mains level : Sea level rise and its impact

 

An extraordinary measure to protect 25 million people and important economic regions of 15 Northern European countries from rising seas has been proposed. It is called Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) enclosing all of the North Sea.

Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED)

  • The scientists have proposed the construction of two dams of a combined length of 637 km — the first between northern Scotland and western Norway.
  • It would be 476 km and with an average depth of 121 m and maximum depth of 321 m; the second between France and southwestern England, of length 161 km, and average depth of 85 m and maximum depth of 102 m.
  • A/c to scientists, separating the North and Baltic Seas from the Atlantic Ocean is considered to be the “most viable option” to protect Northern Europe against unstoppable sea level rise (SLR).
  • They have also identified other regions in the world where such mega-enclosures could potentially be considered, including the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Irish Sea, and the Red Sea.

The rationale behind

  • The concept of constructing NEED showcases the extent of protection efforts that are required if mitigation efforts fail to limit sea level rise.
  • While NEED may appear to be “overwhelming” and “unrealistic”, it could be “potentially favourable” financially and in scale when compared with alternative solutions to fight SLR, the research argues.
  • The researchers classify the solutions to SLR into three categories of taking no action, protection, and managed retreat — and submit that NEED is in the second category.
  • While managed retreat, which includes options such as managed migrations, may be less expensive than protection (NEED), it involves intangible costs such as national and international political instability, psychological difficulties, and loss of culture and heritage for migrants.
  • NEED, the paper says, will have the least direct impact on people’s daily lives, can be built at a “reasonable cost”, and has the largest potential to be implemented with the required urgency to be effective.

Viability of NEED

  • The researchers have estimated the total costs associated with NEED at between €250 billion and €550 billion.
  • They referred to the costs of building the 33.9-km Saemangeum Seawall in South Korea and the Maasvlakte 2 extension of the Rotterdam harbour in the Netherlands as examples,
  • If construction is spread over a 20-year period, this will work out to an annual expense of around 0.07%-0.16% of the GDP of the 15 Northern European countries that will be involved.
  • Also the construction will “heavily impact” marine and terrestrial ecosystems inside and outside the enclosure, will have social and cultural implications, and affect tourism and fisheries.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Urban Heat Islands in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UHU effect

Mains level : UHU effect

 

A recent study from IIT Kharagpur called “Anthropogenic forcing exacerbating the urban heat islands in India” noted that the relatively warmer temperature in urban areas, compared to suburbs, may contain potential health hazards due to heat waves apart from pollution.

About the study

  • The research did study the difference between urban and surrounding rural land surface temperatures, across all seasons in 44 major cities from 2001 to 2017.
  • It found evidence of mean daytime temperature of surface urban heat island (UHI Intensity) going up to 2 degrees C for most cities, as analysed from satellite temperature measurements in monsoon and post monsoon periods.
  • Other researchers from elsewhere have also noticed similar rise in daytime temperatures in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.

What is an Urban Heat Island?

  • An urban heat island (abbreviated as UHI) is where the temperature in a densely populated city is as much as 2 degrees higher than suburban or rural areas.
  • This happens because of the materials used for pavements, roads and roofs, such as concrete, asphalt (tar) and bricks, which are opaque, do not transmit light, but have higher heat capacity and thermal conductivity than rural areas, which have more open space, trees and grass.
  • Trees and plants are characterised by their ‘evapotranspiration’— a combination of words wherein evaporation involves the movement of water to the surrounding air, and transpiration refers to the movement of water within a plant and a subsequent lot of water through the stomata (pores found on the leaf surface) in its leaves.
  • Grass, plants and trees in the suburbs and rural areas do this. The lack of such evapotranspiration in the city leads to the city experiencing higher temperature than its surroundings.

Latent impacts

  • UHI s also decrease air quality in the cities, thanks to pollution generated by industrial and automobile exhaust, higher extent of particulate matter and greater amounts of dust than in rural areas.
  • Due to this higher temperature in urban areas, the UHI increases the colonization of species that like warm temperatures, such as lizards and geckos.
  • Insects such as ants are more abundant here than in rural areas; these are referred to as ectotherms.
  • In addition, cities tend to experience heat waves which affect human and animal health, leading to heat cramps, sleep deprivation and increased mortality rates.
  • UHIs also impact nearby water bodies, as warmer water (thanks to the pavements, rooftops and so on) is transferred from the city to drains in sewers, and released into nearby lakes and creeks, thus impairing their water quality.

Control of UHIs and mitigation

  • Industrialization and economic development are vital to the country, but the control of UHIs and their fallouts are equally vital. Towards this, several methods are being, and can be, tried.
  • One of them is to use greener rooftops, using light-coloured concrete (using limestone aggregates along with asphalt (or tar) making the road surface greyish or even pinkish (as some places in the US have done); these are 50% better than black, since they absorb less heat and reflect more sunlight.
  • Likewise, we should paint rooftops green, and install solar panels there amidst a green background.
  • The other is to plant as many trees and plants as possible

Why plant more trees?

Relevant to the present context are:

  • they combat climate change; clean the surrounding air by absorbing pollutant gases (NXOy, O3, NH3, SO2, and others) and trapping particulates on their leaves and bark;
  • they cool the city and the streets; conserve energy (cutting air-conditioning costs by 50%); save water and help prevent water pollution; help prevent soil erosion; protect people and children from UV light;
  • they offer economic opportunities; bring diverse group of people together; encourage civic pride by giving neighborhoods a new identity; mask concrete walls, thus muffling sounds from streets and highways, and eye-soothing canopy of green; and the more a business district has trees, more business follows.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

India’s Scientific Expedition to the Southern Ocean

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Southern Ocean

Mains level : Role of Southern Ocean in Climate dynamics

 

A South African oceanographic research vessel SA Agulhas set off from Port Louise in Mauritius, on a two-month Indian Scientific Expedition to the Southern Ocean 2020. Recently the vessel was at Prydz Bay, in the coastal waters of “Bharati”, India’s third station in Antarctica.

India’s polar mission

  • This is the 11th expedition of an Indian mission to the Southern Ocean, or Antarctic Ocean.
  • The first mission took place between January and March 2004.

About the Southern Ocean expedition

  • The researchers from IITM Pune are collecting air and water samples from around 60 stations along the cruise track.
  • These will give valuable information on the state of the ocean and atmosphere in this remote environment and will help to understand its impacts on the climate.
  • A key objective of the mission is to quantify changes that are occurring and the impact of these changes on large-scale weather phenomenon, like the Indian monsoon, through tele-connection.

Why study Southern Ocean?

  • We know that carbon dioxide is getting emitted into the atmosphere, and through atmospheric circulation goes to the Antarctic and Polar Regions.
  • Since the temperature is very low there, these gases are getting absorbed and converted into dissolved inorganic carbon or organic carbon, and through water masses and circulation it is coming back to tropical regions.
  • All oceans around the world are connected through the Southern Ocean, which acts as a transport agent for things like heat across all these oceans.
  • The conveyor belt that circulates heat around the world is connected through the Southern Ocean and can have a large impact on how climate is going to change due to anthropogenic forces.

Core projects of the expedition

  • Study hydrodynamics and biogeochemistry of the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean; involves sampling seawater at different depths. This will help understand the formation of Antarctic bottom water.
  • Observations of trace gases in the atmosphere, such as halogens and dimethyl sulphur from the ocean to the atmosphere. This will help improve parameterizations that are used in global models.
  • Study of organisms called coccolithophores that have existed in the oceans for several million years; their concentrations in sediments will create a picture of past climate
  • Investigate atmospheric aerosols and their optical and radiative properties. Continuous measurements will quantify the impact on Earth’s climate.
  • Study the Southern Ocean’s impact on Indian monsoons. Look for signs in a sediment core taken from the bottom of the ocean
  • Dynamics of the food web in the Southern Ocean; important for safeguarding catch and planning sustainable fishing

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

‘Future of Earth, 2020’ Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : Various global threats and their mitigation

 

The “The Future of Earth, 2020” Report was recently released.

About the report

  • The report is released by the South Asia Future Earth Regional Office, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science.
  • The report was prepared with the aim of reducing carbon footprint and halting global warming below 2 degree Celsius by 2050.

Highlights of the report

  • Five global risks that have the potential to impact and amplify one another in ways that may cascade to create global systemic crisis have been listed by report.
  • It listed the following as five global risks:
  1. failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  2. extreme weather events
  3. major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  4. food crises; and
  5. water crises
  • Offering examples of how the interrelation of risk factors play a role, scientists say extreme heatwaves can accelerate global warming by releasing large amounts of stored carbon from affected ecosystems, and at the same time intensify water crises and/ or food scarcity.
  • The loss of biodiversity also weakens the capacity of natural and agricultural systems to cope with climate extremes, increasing our vulnerability to food crises, they point out.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Thwaites Glacier

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Thwaites Glacier

Mains level : Sea level rise and its impact

 

In the Antarctic floats a massive glacier, roughly the size of Britain, whose melting has been a cause of alarm for scientists over the years. Now, a new study has pinned the cause of the melting to the presence of warm water at a vital point beneath the glacier.

Thwaites Glacier

  • The Thwaites Glacier is 120 km wide at its broadest, fast-moving and melting fast over the years.
  • Because of its size (1.9 lakh square km), it contains enough water to raise the world sea level by more than half a metre.
  • Studies have found the amount of ice flowing out of it has nearly doubled over the past 30 years. Today, Thwaites’s melting already contributes 4% to global sea level rise each year.
  • It is estimated that it would collapse into the sea in 200-900 years. Thwaites is important for Antarctica as it slows the ice behind it from freely flowing into the ocean.
  • Because of the risk it faces — and poses — Thwaites is often called the Doomsday Glacier.

What has the new study found?

  • A 2019 study had discovered a fast-growing cavity in the glacier.
  • More recently researchers detected warm water at a vital point below the glacier.
  • Scientists dug a 600-m-deep and 35-cm-wide access hole, and deployed an ocean-sensing device called Icefin to measure the waters moving below the glacier’s surface.
  • The study reported water at just two degrees above freezing point at Thwaites’s “grounding zone” or “grounding line”.

What is the grounding line?

  • The grounding line is the place below a glacier at which the ice transitions between resting fully on bedrock and floating on the ocean as an ice shelf.
  • The location of the line is a pointer to the rate of retreat of a glacier.
  • When glaciers melt and lose weight, they float off the land where they used to be situated. When this happens, the grounding line retreats.
  • That exposes more of a glacier’s underside to seawater, increasing the likelihood it will melt faster.
  • This resulted in the glacier speeding up, stretching out, and thinning, causing the grounding line to retreat ever further.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Global Go To Think-Tank Index

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Think Tank Index

Mains level : Not Much

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) was placed No. 16 among 2019’s ‘top environment policy think tanks’ of the world in Global Go To Think Tank Index.

Think-Tank Index

  • The Index is released by University of Pennsylvania each year since 2008.
  • It evaluates public-policy research analysis and engagement organisations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues.
  • It claims to enable policy makers and the public to make informed decisions on public policy.
  • The 2020 report raised some critical threats and opportunities that think tanks across the globe face.
  • It called upon such organisations to develop national, regional, and global partnerships and create new, innovative platforms to deliver for an ever-expanding audience of citizens, policy makers and businesses.

India’s performance

  • CSE climbed up two notches in the 14th version of the report.
  • The organisation also moved up three places among ‘best independent think tanks’ to be at No.123 in the world and sixth among Indian think tanks.
  • Globally, it was ranked 41 of 60 organisations committed to energy and resource policy. It remained at No.58 among organisations working on science and technology policy in the world — fifth in India.

CSE as forerunner

  • CSE was named the ‘national climate leader’ from India for 2019 in the first National Climate Leader Awards published in the Global Spotlight Report #22 by Climate Scorecard.
  • CSE also received the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2018 in 2019 for ‘pioneering work on environment and sustainable development’.
  • CSE also featured in four other rankings in the report: ‘top water security think tanks’; ‘top energy and resource policy think tanks’; ‘top science and technology policy think tanks’ and ‘best independent think tanks’.
  • It also ranked 18 among 78 global think tanks for its work on ‘water security’ — second in India after Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[op-ed snap]Partners in action

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green Growth Equity Fund

Mains level : Paper 3- Climate change, Steps taken by India to mitigate the impact, collaboration in innovation with other countries.

Context

Both India and the UK are exploring how best to develop the technology and investment needed to spur the transition from fossil to renewable fuels and make this a beneficial trajectory for ev