Blue holes

    • It is a large marine cavern or sinkhole, which is open to the surface and has developed in a bank or island composed of a carbonate bedrock (limestone or coral reef).
    • Deep, circular columns of water, inside oceans, formed when rainwater dissolves a sinkhole through limestone rock.
    • These typically contain fresh, marine, or mixed tidally influenced water.
    • They extend below sea level for most of their depth and may provide access to submerged cave passages.
    • Its waters are mostly isolated from the surrounding ocean and receive little fresh water.
    • Oxygen-deprived marine ecosystems.
    • Eg. in the South China Sea (Dragon Hole), Belize (Great Blue Hole), Bahamas (Dean’s Blue Hole), Guam, Australia (in the Great Barrier Reef), and Egypt (in the Red Sea).
    • Note: Blue holes are distinguished from cenotes in that the latter are inland voids usually containing fresh groundwater rather than seawater.
    • News: Recently, more than 8,000 years old Carbon was found in World’s deepest blue hole is Yongle Blue Hole (South China Sea).
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National Transit Pass System

      • Launched by Ministry of Environment
      • Online transit permits for timber, bamboo and other forest produce.
      • Pan India Transit Passes: facilitating seamless movement. Earlier passes issued by one state were not honored in other states.
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Okavango Delta, Botswana

    • It is an interior delta system. It does not flow into a sea.
    • It is UNESCO World Heritage, and is a Ramsar site.
    • Botswana has world’s largest elephant population. (130,000)
    • News: Recently, a high number of elephant carcasses found here.
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National Transit Pass System

      • Launched by Ministry of Environment
      • Online transit permits for timber, bamboo and other forest produce.
      • Pan India Transit Passes: facilitating seamless movement. Earlier passes issued by one state were not honored in other states.
      •  

Aerial seeding

      • In this plantation technique, seed balls are sprayed using aerial devices. Eg. planes, helicopters or drones.
      • These pellets sprout when there is enough rain.
      • Seed balls: These are pellets of seeds with nutrients, clay, compost, etc.
      • Seed properties: native to the area; and hard enough to have a higher survival percentage.
      • The clay shell in the mixture protects them from birds, rodents etc.
      • News: Recently, Haryana started aerial seeding on a pilot basis.
      • Ecological degradation in the Aravalli region has become alarming.
      •  

Coral Triangle

  • Located in the western Pacific Ocean.
  • It is one of the 3 mega ecological complexes. Others: Congo Basin, Amazon Rainforest.
  • Known as the world’s epicenter of marine diversity.
  • It houses nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals.

 

Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020

  • Released by FAO.
  • FAO is a specialized agency of the UN.

National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX)

  • It is a leading agricultural commodity exchange.
          • A recognized stock exchange under the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956.
          • It is regulated by SEBI.
          • It has a broad-based bouquet of permitted commodities.
          • Some commodities such as pulses, spices, etc. not traded on any platforms in the global scenario.

Seabed 2030 Project

  • News: mapping of nearly one-fifth world’s ocean floor done.
  • By Nippon Foundation of Japan, and GEBCO.
  • To bring together all available bathymetric data
  • Bathymetry is the measurement of the shape and depth of the ocean floor.
  • It was launched at United Nations Ocean Conference in 2017.
  • It is aligned with the UN SDG 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
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General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO)

  • An international group of geoscientists and hydrographers.

It operates under:

  • Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, and

International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

Un Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

  • News: UNGA proclaimed 2021–2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
  • Aim: massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply, and biodiversity.
  • UNEP and FAO will lead the implementation.
  • Regional efforts:
  • Initiative 20×20 in Latin America: to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2020.
  • AFR100: African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative. To bring 100   million   hectares   of   degraded   land under restoration by 2030.

Shale gas

It is the natural gas trapped within shale formations i.e. fine-grained sedimentary rocks, rich sources of petroleum and natural gas.

          • Exploration: A combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing madea large volume of shale gaseconomical to produce.
          • Shale Reserves: Cambay, Krishna–Godavari basin, Cauvery, Gondwana basin, Upper Assam, Indo-Gangetic basin.

            Hydraulic fracturing (HF):

            • Drilling process to extract oil and natural gas trapped in subsurface rock units.
            • It includes pumping fluids in a well under pressures to fracture the subsurface rock units.
            • Guar gum: often used to make HF process more efficient.
              • Made from guar beans grown in arid to semiarid climates in India.
            • Note: Coal Bed Methane (CBM): It is a form of natural gas that is trapped in the carbon structure of coal seams.

            Policy Framework for exploration and exploitation of Unconventional Hydrocarbons, 2018

            • Such as Shale gas, CBM etc.
            • Shift from ‘One hydrocarbon Resource Type’ to ‘Uniform Licensing Policy’
            • Previous policy: Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) and Discovered Small Field (DSF) Policy.

             

National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC)

  • it is constituted in the Cabinet Secretariat.
  • For effective implementation of relief measures for a natural calamity.
  • Headed by Cabinet Secretary. Other members include- Secretary to Prime Minister, Secretary (MHA), Director (IB) etc.

IMD’s Color-coded Heat Wave Alert

        • It issues colour-coded warnings depending on intensity of any weather system.
        • Intensity in ascending order: green, yellow, orange and red.
        • These warnings are mainly meant for administrators to keep ready.
        • News: IMD issued red and orange warning for heatwaves in various states.

         

         

Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

  • released by Yale University.
  • covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality.

UN World Water Development Report, 2000

  • Published by UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water.
  • 2020 report theme: ‘Water and Climate Change’
  • UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (UNESCO WWAP) coordinates the work of 31 UN-Water members and partners in the WWDR.

United Nations Water (UN-Water)

It coordinates international efforts on water and sanitation issues.

      • Members- UN agencies, programs, and funds with a water-related mandate.
      • Partners-  international organizations, associations civil- society groups.
      • Two annual global campaigns on World Water Day (22 March) and World Toilet Day (19 November).
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World Water Day 2020 – 22 March

  • It focuses on the importance of freshwater.
  • This year’s theme, ‘Water and Climate Change’.

 

 

Earth Hour 2020

  • Turning off non-essential electric lights, for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
  • A global grassroots movement uniting people to protect the planet.
  • Organized by WWF every year on the last Saturday of March, as a symbol of commitment to the planet.
  • WWF is an international NGO founded in 1961. It works in the field of wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment.

World Environment Day: 5th June

    • To mark the first day of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment, held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972.
    • 2020 Theme: Biodiversity- a concern that is both urgent and existential.
    • Hosted by Colombia in partnership with Germany.
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GRACE-FO

      • Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow On, 2018
      • It is a mission of NASA and German Research Centre for Geosciences.
      • Objectives:
        • To track Earth’s water movement
        • To monitor changes in underground water storage,  amount of water in large lakes and rivers,  soil moisture,  ice sheets and glaciers, and sea level.
      • It is a successor to the original GRACE mission.
        • It orbited Earth from 2002- 2017.
        • It measured changes in the local pull of gravity as water shifts around Earth due to changing seasons, weather, and climate processes.
      • News: Recently NASA developed weekly Global Groundwater Maps of soil moisture and groundwater wetness conditions based on data from GRACE-FO.
        • Surface soil moisture
        • Root zone soil moisture (roughly top 3 feet of soil)
        • Shallow groundwater.

       

       

Groundwater affects Himalayan slip and climate

    • Slip is defined as the relative motion of the rock on each side of the fault with respect to another side.
    • Seasonal water from glaciers, monsoon precipitation, groundwater plays a key role in the deformation of the crust, seismicity, subsidence, and uplift.
    • Water acts as a lubricating agent. Hence, water in dry season reduces the rate of a slip of the fault.
    • A study by: Global Positioning System and GRACE data.

     

     

Bay of Bengal Boundary Layer Experiment (BOBBLE)

    • To examine the impact of various parameters on the monsoon.
    • Parameters: ocean temperature, salinity, and currents, etc.
    • Funded by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Natural Environment Research Council of UK

     

     

IDEAthon on ‘The Future of River Management’

    • Organized by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
      • Under Ministry of Jal Shakti and National Institute of Urban Affairs.
    • Focused on how the COVID-19 crisis can shape River Management strategies for the future.

     

National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)

  • Statutory body by Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
  • Chaired by Prime Minister.
  • It can constitute a Standing Committee (chaired by Environment Minister). Its function is to regulate land diversion within Protected Areas and Eco Sensitive Zones.
  • Aim: promotion of conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
  • Approval of NBWL is mandatory for: alteration of boundaries of Protected Areas, destruction or diversion of wildlife habitat, de-notification of Tiger Reserves, construction of tourist lodges etc.
  • News: It has not met in last 6 years.
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South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF)

    • It was established in 2010 and is coordinated by IMD.
    • Objective: Preparation and issuing of a consensus outlook for the southwest monsoon rainfall.
    • It covers India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

     

     

National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAQUIM)

    • By the Ministry of Water Resources.
    • Implemented by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB)
    • Nearly 25 lakh km2 mappable area in the country.

     

     

Global Animal Protection Index 2020

    • Released by World Animal Protection, an international animal welfare charity.   
    • Finding: India has strong laws on the protection of animals, but the lack of regulations regarding the rearing of farm animals.

     

     

Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4)

    • Dubbed as ‘Banana COVID’, it is a novel fungus strain.
    • It has devastated banana plantations across the globe this year.
    • First identified in Taiwan. It has spread from Asia to the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
    • First attacks the leaves, which turn yellow from their trailing edges before wilting away.
    • India, the world’s largest producer of bananas, is emerging as one of the hotspots.

     

     

National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS)

    • A Central Sector Grant-in-aid Scheme
    • Implemented by Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
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Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES)

      • It is a lab of CSIR Hyderabad.
      • It is the only laboratory in India that has developed methods for collection and cryopreservation of semen and oocytes from wildlife and successfully reproducing endangered blackbuck, spotted deer, and Nicobar pigeons.
      • It has established the Genetic Resource Bank of Indian wild animals.

       

       

Hydro Electric plants in N.E. India

      • on Tuirial river
      • on river Doyang (a tributary of the River Brahmaputra)
      • Assam: on Kopili River
      • Project, Arunachal Pradesh: on Ranganadi river
      • on river Dikrong (tributary of Brahmaputra).
      • Project Arunachal Pradesh: flows from Bichom and Tenga Rivers (both tributaries of River Kameng).
      • Dibang valley project (Etalin Hydroelectric Project), Arunachal Pradesh:
        • Dri and Tangon Rivers.
        • A proposed project at the confluence of Ashu Pani and Dibang rivers.
        • It has been delayed by over 6 years as it required diverting 1165 hectares of subtropical rainforest in a region of rich biodiversity.
        • Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has recently deferred its decision on this controversial project.

       

       

Ithai barrage, Manipur

  • It was constructed in 1983 at confluence of Imphal River and Tuitha River, south of Loktak Lake, as part of Loktak Hydroelectric project.
  • Made to maintain sufficient water volume in Loktak lake.
  • News: Over time, it has affected hydrology of lake and harmed ecology and economy of region. Manipur urged Centre to consider decommissioning it.

Forest Advisory Committee (FAC)

  • Under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  • Apex body to decide whether forest land can be diverted for industrial projects.

Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ)/ Eco-Sensitive Area (ESA)

        • These are declared around Protected Areas (PAs).
        • Through Notification under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
        • MoEFCC “Guidelines for Declaration of ESZ around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries” in 2011
        • Nature of Activities in ESZ:
          • Prohibited: commercial mining, polluting industries, major hydroelectric projects, etc.
          • Regulated (Restricted with safeguards): Felling of trees, Drastic change of the agriculture system, the introduction of exotic species, construction, etc.
          • Permissible- Rain Water Harvesting, Organic farming, Ongoing Agricultural Practices, etc.
        • Though ESZ does not affect the ownership rights of people on land resources, it restricts land-use change.
        • Proposal for ESZ should be prepared by the states and forwarded to MoEFCC for further processing and notification.
        • The extent of ESZ: As a general principle, the width of ESZ could go up to 10 km around a PA as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy- 2002.

         

         

Hangenberg crisis

        • Earth suffered an intense loss of species diversity (around 350 million years ago) that lasted for at least 300,000 years.
        • Reason: long- lasting ozone depletion. It allowed much more of the Sun’s UV radiation to reach and harm life on Earth.

         

         

Seismic noise

  • It refers to the relatively persistent vibration of the ground due to a multitude of causes like transport and manufacturing etc.
  • It is the unwanted component recorded by a seismometer.
  • It makes it difficult to study seismic data.
  • News: Recently, change in Earth’s seismic noise and vibrations amid lockdown was reported.

Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO)

  • It influences climate variability over the Pacific Basin on decadal timescales.
  • A large-scale, long-period oscillation of sea-surface temperatures.
  • It affects the long term rainfall variations globally, including South Asia.
  • A positive IPO mostly leads to decreased South Asian summer monsoon.
  • News: differing phases of IPO played crucial roles in the recent interdecadal variations of Indian monsoon rainfall.

Salinity ingress/ Seawater incrusion

  • It is the movement of seawater into freshwater aquifers.
  • Caused by a decrease in groundwater levels or by rising in seawater levels.

MoEFCC Annual Report 2019-20

  • Key findings

    • Biosphere Reserves: 11 out of 18 are included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO.
    • A number of Protected Areas (PA): It has increased from a total of 771 in 2018 to 870 in 2019. The total area under PA is now 1.65 lakh Sq. km.
    • Tigers: India has achieved the target set by the St. Petersburg declaration on tiger conservation to double the number of wild tigers.
    • Diversion of forest land: India continues to lose forest land to non-forestry projects.
    • Mangrove cover: Increase of mangrove cover in the country.
    • 100 days Action Plan, 2019 was initiated for the Restoration & Rejuvenation of 100 Wetlands.

     

     

Boreal Summer Intra Seasonal Oscillation (BSISO)

    • It is the movement of convection (heat) during monsoon from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific Ocean roughly every 10-50 days.
    • It induces high wave activity in the north Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.

     

Fujiwhara effect

  • When two hurricanes collide, the phenomenon is called the Fujiwhara effect.
  • If two cyclones pass within 900 miles of each other, they can start to orbit.
  • Often, the effect is additive. It usually ends up with one massive storm.
  • News: Two tropical storms, Marco and Laura, can impact the Gulf of Mexico.

Yangtze river, China

    • The Yangtze is Asia’s longest river.
    • Three Gorges dam is World’s largest hydroelectric dam.
    • News: NASA images show floodwater spilling from the Three Gorges Dam.

     

Pantanal, Brazil

  • It is the World’s Largest Wetland.
  • It extends into Bolivia and Paraguay.
  • Massive fire: Vegetation dries out as ponds and lagoons evaporate, leaving flammable deposits underground.

Yangtze river, China

    • The Yangtze is Asia’s longest river.
    • Three Gorges dam is World’s largest hydroelectric dam.
    • News: NASA images show floodwater spilling from the Three Gorges Dam.

     

Challenger Deep

  • Located in the Mariana Trench.
  • It is the deepest known spot in world’s oceans. (11 kms deep)
  • Mariana trench is in Pacific Ocean.

Zealandia

  • It is a long, narrow microcontinent, mostly submerged in the South Pacific Ocean.
  • Microcontinent is a landmass that has broken off from a main continent.
  • Zealandia broke off from Antarctica about 100 million years ago, and then from Australia about 80 million years ago.
  • Only 7% of Zealandia is above sea level. Mostly, it makes New Zealand.

Mount Sinabung Volcano, Sumatra - Indonesia

    • This volcano erupted recently.
    • Indonesia is located on the Ring of Fire.
    • Ring of fire: It is a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean, where frequent seismic and volcanic activity occurs.

     

Senkaku islands

  • These a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.
  • News: Japan changed the name of the southern Japan area containing Senkaku Islands from Tonoshiro to Tonoshiro Senkaku.

Lonar lake, Maharastra

  • It is world’s largest basaltic impact crater, formed by a meteorite hit.
  • Recently, its color turned pink due to a large presence of the salt loving ‘Haloarchaea’ microbes.
  • Haloarchaea or halophilic archaea is a bacteria. Itproduces pink pigment. It is found in water saturated with salt.
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Static Topics in News

  • Sixth Mass Extinction: A recent research has suggested that the Sixth mass extinction could be the most serious environmental problem that we encounter.
  • TRAFFIC
  • CITES (the Washington Convention), 1973
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Floods
  • Landslides: Recently seen in Pettimudi hills Idukki district, Kerala.
  •