About Vulture species in India

About Vulture species in India

 

About Vulture species in India

  • Vultures can soar to a height of 7,000 feet and can easily cover distance of more than 100 km in one go.
  • Vultures belong to various species, nine of which are found in India.
  • Of these nine species, four are listed as Critically Endangered, and one as endangered in IUCN red list of endangered species.
  • Species of Vultures found in India and their Conservation Status
    • Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)- Critically Endangered
    • Indian White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)- Critically Endangered
    • Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogypscalvus)- Critically Endangered
    • Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)- Critically Endangered
    • Egyptian Vulture (Neophronpercnopterus)- Endangered
    • Cincerous Vulture (Aegypiusmonachus)- Near Threatened
    • Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus)- Least Concern
    • Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)-Least Concern
    • Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayansis)- Least Concern

 

 

Threats to Vulture survival

  • Diclofenac: According to Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), veterinary use of diclofenac is the main threat to the Vultures in India. The widespread use of diclofenac as pain reliever in cattle is the cause of Vulture’s mortality in India.
  • Habitat destruction Developmental activities like establishment of power projects, irrigation projects, industrial units, construction of highways etc. have ruined the habitats of Vultures resulting into decline in their population.
  • Pesticide pollution: The chlorinated hydrocarbon D.D.T (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane) used as pesticide enters the body of Vultures through food chain where it affects the activity of estrogen hormone, as a result of which the egg shell is weakened consequently the premature hatching of egg takes place causing the death of the embryo.
  • Slow breeding rate: Vultures lay a single egg in a breeding season. Hence their slow breeding rate is also a threat to their survival.
  • Use of poisoned carcasses: Poison used by human beings to kill cattle-marauding carnivores is also a threat to Vultures in India, as consumption of such poisoned carcasses by Vulture leads to their death.
  • Lack of legal protection: Out of nine species of Vultures found in India only one that is the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus) is protected by law and hence lack of legal protection is also a threat to their survival.

 

 

Conservation of Vultures

  • Replacing diclofenac: There is need to evolve an effective substitute of diclofenac, and the present available substitute meloxicam needs to be subsidized.
  • Captive-breeding programme: This with aim to reintroduce Vultures into the wild need to be launched on large scale, particularly for Critically Endangered and Endangered species of Vultures.
  • Legal protection: All efforts should be made to protect and conserve the Near Threatened and Least Concern species of Vultures in India and all the species of Vultures should be legally protected.
  • In situ conservation: There is need to set up Vulture feeding stations through provision of poison-free food, clean water, bone chips and perches within an open-roofed wire-mesh enclosure for safety and freedom of Vultures.
  • Habitat restoration:Degraded habitats of Vultures need to be restored.
  • Protection:Full protection must be given to nests of the Vultures in their breeding habitat.
Section : Environment & Ecology

About Kachenzenga landscape

About Kachenzenga landscape

  • The Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL) is one of the six transboundary landscapes identified by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region.
  • It stretches along the southern side of Mount Kangchenjunga.
  • It covers an area of 25,080.8 km2 and spreads across part of eastern Nepal (21%), Sikkim and West Bengal of India (56%) and the western and south-western parts of Bhutan (23%).
  • At the heart of this landscape, lies Mount Kangchenjunga (8,586 m), the third highest peak in the world, and sustains many of the vital Himalayan rivers and crucial watersheds.
  • The KL is part of a ‘Himalayan biodiversity hotspot’ harbouring a significant portion of the world’s biodiversity.
  • With 19 established protected areas, comprising 30% of the landscape, it contains more than 4,500 species of plants, more than 160 mammal species, 580 bird species, and 600 butterfly species.
  • It is also home to 7.2 million people, some of whom are from unique ethnic groups found nowhere else in the world such as the Lepchas, the Walungpas, and the Lhop Doyas.
  • This important transboundary area provides valuable ecosystem services that support the wellbeing and livelihoods of people living in the landscape.

About the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) 

  • It is a transboundary conservation and development programme jointly implemented by the government of Bhutan, India and Nepal, facilitated and supported by ICIMOD.
  • The initiative emphasises the transboundary landscape approach, advocated and promoted by the Convention on Biological Diversity, which recognises the importance of-
    • Establishing habitat linkages among the protected areas
    • Managing the ecosystems in entirety,
    • Supporting the livelihoods of communities living in the KL.
  • The initiative was conceived in 2012 to collaborate on common objectives towards effective conservation and sustainable use of resources within the landscape.
  • A Regional Cooperation Framework was prepared for implementing the subsequent phases of the KLCDI.
  • As an outcome from the process, a 20 years strategic programme has been developed with five years operational plan (2016-2020).
  • The framework is as follows:

 

  • The current initiative of joint task force is under the third phase of the programme where the countries are agreeing for creating and implementing the joint task force.
  • The KLCDI Focuses on five main intervention areas:
    • Livelihoods and climate change adaptation (socio-economic development).
    • Community-based participatory ecosystem management (ecosystem wellbeing).
    • Resources governance.
    • Long-term monitoring.
    • Regional cooperation.

South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN)

  • It is an inter-governmental wildlife law enforcement support body of South Asian countries.
  • The members include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • SAWEN was officially launched in January, 2011 in Paro Bhutan.
  • It promotes regional cooperation to combat wildlife crime in South Asia.
  • It focuses on-
    • Policy harmonization
    • Institutional capacity strengthening through knowledge and intelligence sharing.
    • Collaboration with regional and international partners to enhance wildlife law enforcement in the member countries.
  • SAWEN operates its activities from the Secretariat based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Water cycle

Water cycle

  • The water circulation in the atmosphere primarily occurs through the processes of evaporation, transpiration, condensation and precipitation.

 

Condensation and Precipitation in Tropical areas

  • Condensation
    • The capacity of air to hold water vapour decreases with decrease in temperature and at one point ceases.
    • The excess water vapour the air cannot hold anymore condenses into liquid form or solid form depending on temperature, in the process called condensation.
  • Clouds
    • At a height where there is free air, condensation happens around small particles called hygroscopic condensation nuclei.
    • Dust, smoke, salts etc. act as condensation nuclei.
    • These minute water droplets or ice crystal formed around a condensation nuclei as a result of condensation form what we know as clouds.
  • Precipitation in tropical areas
    • In tropical areas, convectional rainfall occurs.
    • Air when heated becomes light and rises up in convection currents.
    • As it rises, it expands and loses heat and consequently, condensation takes place and clouds are formed.
    • Continuous condensation in free air helps the condensed particles to grow in size.
    • When the condensed particles are so big that they are not able to hold against gravity, they fall on to the earth’s surface as rainfall.
    • Thus, precipitation is the process of release of moisture after condensation.

 

In Focus: Artificial Rain by Cloud Seeding

Concept

  • Cloud seeding is the process of augmenting the process of precipitation by manipulating the size of condensation nuclei.
  • In this process, substances capable of absorbing water vapour such as silver iodide, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) are sprayed in the clouds using an aircraft or an artillery gun.
  • Silver Iodide or other artificial salts, which are hygroscopic, are capable of absorbing more moisture.
  • This catalyzes the growth of condensation nuclei which in turn results in enhanced precipitation.

 

Process

  • India, being a tropical area, does not have ice crystals as condensation nuclei in its clouds. (This is due to higher temperature and moisture content in the air)
  • In rain-bearing clouds of India, water droplets forming the clouds are smaller in size.
  • Being small in size, the water droplets formed in the clouds are blown away in the wind before they reach earth.
  • Salts such as silver iodide, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, dry ice ensure that the size of the droplets is large enough to fall as rain.
  • Further, once the condensation occurs, it releases latent heat which in turn increases the capacity of the air to hold more moisture and also draws more moist air from the ground, thereby enhancing the process of condensation and in turn precipitation

 

 

 

Cloud Seeding in India

  • Could Seeding is done in various parts of India in drought-affected areas, including rain shadow region of Maharashtra, Northern Karnataka, rainfall deficient regions of Central India, Gujarat, Rajasthan etc.
  • Urban areas like Delhi and Mumbai have contemplated the use of cloud seeding for combating air pollution.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Biodiversity in the islands

Biodiversity in the islands

  • The presence of a large number of species in such a small area makes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands one of the richest ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots in India.
  • The Narcondam hornbill, its habitat restricted to a lone island; the Nicobar megapode, a bird that builds nests on the ground; the Nicobar treeshrew, a small mole-like mammal; the Long-tailed Nicobar macaque, and the Andaman day gecko, are among the 1,067 endemic faunal species found only on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and nowhere else.
  • Of the ten species of marine fauna found on the islands, the dugong/sea cow, and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, are both classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Among the 46 terrestrial mammalian species found, three species have been categorised as Critically Endangered — Andaman shrew (Crocidura andamanensis), Jenkin’s shrew (C. jenkinsi) and Nicobar shrew (C. nicobarica). Five species are listed as Endangered, nine species as Vulnerable, and one species as Near Threatened, according to the IUCN.
  • Among birds, endemism is quite high, with 36 among 344 species of birds found only on the islands. Many of these bird species are placed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA).
  • Another unique feature of the islands’ ecosystem is its marine faunal diversity, which includes coral reefs and its associated fauna. In all, 555 species of scleractinian corals (hard or stony corals) are found in the island ecosystem, all which are placed under Schedule I of the WPA.
  • Similarly, all species of gorgonian (sea fans) and calcerous sponge are listed under different schedules of the WPA.

 

Threats to the islands biodiversity

  • Tourism, illegal construction and mining are posing a threat to the islands’ biodiversity, which is already vulnerable to volatile climatic factors.
  • In a recent development, the Government of India relaxed the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) norms for some foreign nationalities notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, to visit 29 of its inhabited islands, till December 31, 2022. This has triggered further concerns of increased anthropogenic pressures over the islands’ ecosystem.
  • The development paradigm that we are pushing for this place at the macro level are not taking in account three factors — ecological fragility of the area (the endemism), geological volatility (earthquakes and tsunamis), and the impact they will have on local communities.
  • A long period of isolation from the mainland made the islands hotspots for speciation (the formation of new and distinct species) resulting in hundreds of endemic species and subspecies, any stress can have a long-lasting impact on the islands’ biodiversity, devastating the population size of any endemic fauna, followed by extinction within a limited span of time.

 

Note

  • The total area of the A&N Islands, which comprises of 572 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, is about 8,249 sq. km.
  • The population of the islands, which includes six particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) — Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shompens — is not more than 4 lakh.
Section : Environment & Ecology

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

The News

  • According to a recent study, new evidences have been found that suggest that winter rainfall in India is heavily influenced by the variability in sea-surface temperatures of Pacific Ocean.

 

Variability in sea-surface temperatures of Pacific Ocean: El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

  • The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurring climate pattern involving changes in the temperature of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
    • On periods ranging from about three to seven years, the surface waters across a large swath of the tropical Pacific Ocean warm or cool by anywhere from 1°C to 3°C, compared to normal.
    • El Niño:
    • warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
    • La Niña:
    • cooling of the ocean surface, or below-average sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

 

Effect of El Niño on monsoon

  • On Summer Monsoon:
    • The summer monsoon of India, brings in about 70% of annual rainfall in the country, is heavily influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
    • A warmer than usual Pacific Ocean, off the coast of South America, is known to suppress the monsoon rainfall in India.
  • On Winter Monsoon:
    • The winter monsoon, also called as the northeastern monsoon brings in more than 50% of the annual rains in coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, south interior Karnataka, and Kerala comes during these winter months.
    • ENSO is known to have an impact on the winter monsoon as well but is weaker and opposite.
    • The warming of sea-surface waters is seen to help winter rainfall rather than suppressing it.
    • The impact varies in time and space. The influence is weaker in October and stronger in November and December.

Note: The rainfall over southeastern peninsular India and Sri Lanka is strengthened with warming ocean, but is diminished over Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

 

Research Summary

  • The study on stalagmites (mineral deposits, mainly limestone, in caves) of the Mawmluh Cave, near Cherrapunji was done by the researchers.
  • The solid stalagmite structures of the cave are the result of slow and steady water dripping in the caves, and contain several thin layers of different kinds of minerals that that get picked up while the water is flowing.
  • By studying the composition of these stalagmites, scientists can deduce the amount of rainfall and source of the water of rainfall (local or other place) that could have happened over the caves in the past.
  • Using such techniques, the researchers could estimate local variations in rainfall in the past, and then correlate it with old ocean records of the Pacific Ocean.
  • The stalagmites indicate the recurrence of intense, multi-year droughts in India over the last several.

 

Way ahead

  • The stalagmite records from monsoon regions, including India, are vital to understanding past variability in the global climate system and the underlying reasons for this variability.
  • This new connection could help in predicting the rainfall during the winter months in India.

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

The News

  • According to a recent study, new evidences have been found that suggest that winter rainfall in India is heavily influenced by the variability in sea-surface temperatures of Pacific Ocean.

 

Variability in sea-surface temperatures of Pacific Ocean: El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

  • The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurring climate pattern involving changes in the temperature of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
    • On periods ranging from about three to seven years, the surface waters across a large swath of the tropical Pacific Ocean warm or cool by anywhere from 1°C to 3°C, compared to normal.
    • El Niño:
    • warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
    • La Niña:
    • cooling of the ocean surface, or below-average sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

 

Effect of El Niño on monsoon

  • On Summer Monsoon:
    • The summer monsoon of India, brings in about 70% of annual rainfall in the country, is heavily influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
    • A warmer than usual Pacific Ocean, off the coast of South America, is known to suppress the monsoon rainfall in India.
  • On Winter Monsoon:
    • The winter monsoon, also called as the northeastern monsoon brings in more than 50% of the annual rains in coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, south interior Karnataka, and Kerala comes during these winter months.
    • ENSO is known to have an impact on the winter monsoon as well but is weaker and opposite.
    • The warming of sea-surface waters is seen to help winter rainfall rather than suppressing it.
    • The impact varies in time and space. The influence is weaker in October and stronger in November and December.

Note: The rainfall over southeastern peninsular India and Sri Lanka is strengthened with warming ocean, but is diminished over Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

 

Research Summary

  • The study on stalagmites (mineral deposits, mainly limestone, in caves) of the Mawmluh Cave, near Cherrapunji was done by the researchers.
  • The solid stalagmite structures of the cave are the result of slow and steady water dripping in the caves, and contain several thin layers of different kinds of minerals that that get picked up while the water is flowing.
  • By studying the composition of these stalagmites, scientists can deduce the amount of rainfall and source of the water of rainfall (local or other place) that could have happened over the caves in the past.
  • Using such techniques, the researchers could estimate local variations in rainfall in the past, and then correlate it with old ocean records of the Pacific Ocean.
  • The stalagmites indicate the recurrence of intense, multi-year droughts in India over the last several.

 

Way ahead

  • The stalagmite records from monsoon regions, including India, are vital to understanding past variability in the global climate system and the underlying reasons for this variability.
  • This new connection could help in predicting the rainfall during the winter months in India.

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

Headline : Operation Meghdoot: 34 years ago, how India won Siachen

Headline : Operation Meghdoot: 35 years ago, how India won Siachen

Details :

The article:

  • April 13, 1984, was when India first deployed its men at Siachen. Thirty four years on, with 163 casualties in the past decade and nearly 900 overall, the soldiers continue to remain on this icy, barren land.

 

Article summary:

Karachi Agreement of 1949 and NJ9842:

  • At the end of the UN-brokered ceasefire in 1949, India and Pakistan agreed on a ceasefire line (CFL) in undivided Kashmir as per the Karachi Agreement of 1949.
  • The eastern most stretch of the ceasefire line was not demarcated beyond a point called NJ9842 since it was inhospitable and uninhabited.
  • It simply said that from NJ9842, the line would run “thence North to the glaciers” — the Siachen glacier, the Rimo and the Baltoro.
  • Indian interpretation was that Pakistan territory extended only to about the SaltoroRidg while Pakistan interpretation was that their territory continued northeast from Point NJ9842 to the Karakoram Pass.
  • As a result, both nations claimed the barren heights and the Siachen Glacier.

Suchetgarh Agreement of 1972:

  • The 1949 ceasefire line was revalidated as the Line of Control (LoC) by the Suchetgarh Agreement of 1972, in accordance with the Simla Conference.
  • The LoC closely assimilated military advances made by either side in J&K in the 1971 war but did not make any changes to the line beyond NJ9842.
  • Uninhabited, the area was considered beyond the ambit of any military operations by both sides.

 

Pakistan’s cartographic changes:

  • But Pakistan had begun making certain cartographic changes to the ceasefire line after the 1962 war which were soon reflected by the US defence mapping agency, a global benchmark for cartography.
  • Between 1964 and 1972, Pakistan began depicting the ceasefire line as extending from NJ9842 to a point just west of the Karakoram Pass, not northwards as the agreement said.
  • Global mountaineering maps soon started portraying this as the authentic and internationally accepted CFL-LoC, backed by mountaineering legends.

 

Pakistan’s tourism plan:

  • Pakistan used cartographic change in perception to start permitting foreign expeditions in the area of the Siachen glacier to reinforce its claim on the area.
  • These mountaineers were required to obtain a permit from Pakistani authorities, validating Pakistan’s de facto claim over the glacier.
  • Earlier, while Pakistan was allowing international mountaineers to climb various peaks in the Karakoram, the Indian Army had banned the area to its own soldiers.
  • The Indian military believed that many expedition, which is promoted by Pakistan, could further a link for a trade route from the northeastern (Chinese) to the southwestern (Pakistani) side of the Karakoram Range and eventually provide a strategic, if not tactical, advantage to the Pakistani Armed Forces.

 

India’s expedition:

  • By 1978, alerted by Pakistani’s expeditions, India too began to undertake mountaineering expeditions. It marked the beginning of a virtual mountaineering contest between the two armies.
  • It was recommended that to ensure the Pakistanis do not intrude into Siachen, India should establish a post in the area which could be manned during the summer.
  • However due to severe weather, inhospitable climatic conditions, and the high altitude, post establishment plan deferred. Instead Siachen glacier would be patrolled by the Army during the summer months.

 

Cycle of protest notes and counter-notes:

  • In 1982, observing India’s movement a protest note from the Pakistan army issued, warning India to keep out of Siachen.
  • The Indian Army lodged a suitable counter-protest and decided to continue patrolling the glacier during the summer of 1983.
  • This led to a cycle of protest notes and counter-notes between the two sides.

 

Pakistani troop movements plan:

  • By then, it had become obvious to the Indian side that Pakistan army was getting ready to physically move into the Siachen glacier.
  • Intelligence reports had spoken of Pakistani troop movements towards Siachen while R&AW had picked up information on Pakistan army buying large quantity of high-altitude gear from Europe.
  • India then decided to act swiftly in order to prevent Pakistan from occupying the Siachen glacier. The move was approved by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

 

Operation Meghdoot – 1984:

  • The task of occupying the Saltoro ridge was planned and the ‘Operation Meghdoot’ was launched on April 13, Baisakhi day, when the Pakistanis would be least expecting the Indians to launch an operation.
  • At 5.30 am on April 13, the first Cheetah helicopter took off from the base camp. By noon, 17 such sorties were flown and 29 soldiers were heli-dropped at Bilafond La. Soon, the weather packed up and the platoon was cut off from the headquarters.
  • The contact was established after three days, when five Cheetah and two Mi-8 helicopters flew a record 32 sorties on April 17 to Sia La. That same day, a Pakistani helicopter flew overhead to see Indian soldiers already deployed at the glacier.
  • This military operation was unique as the first assault launched in the world’s highest battlefield. The military action resulted in Indian troops gaining control of the entire Siachen Glacier.

Current status:

  • The Indian Army currently controls all of the 70 kilometres long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier, Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La, thus holding onto the tactical advantage of high ground.
  • The 110 km. line beyond NJ9842 is called the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).

Section : History & Culture

The magic biopolymer gel

In focus: The magic biopolymer gel

  • The magic biopolymer was made by chemically treating ‘chitosan’, which is a natural biopolymer.
  • Chitosan is a polysaccharide present in chitins of organisms such as shrimp.
  • The chemically fabricated biopolymer gel can switch from being water-repelling in air and oil-repelling under water.
  • This is the first time that a material is made switchable, from superhydrophobic to superoleophobic.
  • As a result it can be used to separate oil or water from oil-water mixture.
  • Besides the gel can be used to separate various oil-water mixtures of different densities of oil such as crude oil, kerosene, motor oil, olive oil etc.

 

Solution for oil spills

  • Due to switchable water-repelling and oil-repelling property the biopolymer gel can be used in oil spills both large scale and small scale.
  • Land-based oil spill: In case of small-scale oil spill such as that on land, the gel can made water-repelling so that it can collect the oil.
  • Water-based oil spill: In case of large-scale oil spill, the gel can be made oil-repelling so that it can collect and remove water.

 

About Oil Spills

  • Oil Spill is basically leakage of oil and its products in the environment.
  • While oil spills are catastrophic when they occur in water, they can severely affect the environment when they occur on land too.
  • In water, the major oil spills occur due to accidents, release of crude oil from tankers, refuse of waste oil offshore, drilling rigs etc
  • Land-based oil spills occur due to leakage in tankers, vehicles etc.

 

Major Oil spills

  • Recent events of major oil spills include
    • Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf of Mexico. (2010)
    • Exon Valdez oil spill in Alaska (1989)
    • Gulf war oil spill in Kuwait (1991)
    • 2014 Sundarbans oil spill in Shela River in Bangladesh Sundarbans.
    • 2017 Ennore oil spill in Kamarajar Port near Chennai.

 

Harmful effects

  • Oil spills cause severe mortality among seabirds.
  • The feathers of the seabird is significantly affects by oil thereby reducing their insulating ability and less buoyant in the water.
  • Oil during oil spills is consumed by planktons and bio-accumulate the entire marine food chain including fish, crabs and other aquatic animals.
  • Other marine mammals exposed to oil spill get severely affected in terms of insulating property.
  • Land-based oil spill cause soil and water pollution
  • Sunderban oil spill have severely affected the mangrove forests.

 

Bio-remediation

  • Bioremediation is the use of microorganisms to metabolize and remove oil during oil spills.
  • The bacteria used for bio-remediation could include sulfate-reducing bacteria, acid-producing anaerobic bacteria etc.

 

Advantage of biopolymer gel over bioremediation

  • While bioremediation is seen as a solution for oil spill, it significantly changes the ecology of the marine environment.
  • Anaerobic bacteria used in bioremediation of oil spill replace other aerobic bacteria in the marine ecosystem.
  • Besides the efficiency of biopolymer gel in removing oil spills is 95%.
  • Therefore the biopolymer gel could be a good solution to bioremediation.

 

 

 

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

About Ozone

About Ozone

  • Ozone is a molecular form of oxygen with 3 oxygen atoms.
  • In the stratosphere, ozone is being created by the absorption of short wavelength ultraviolet radiations which decomposes molecular oxygen into atomic oxygen.
  • The atomic oxygen then reacts with molecular oxygen to form ozone.
  • Ozone thus formed distributes itself in the stratosphere and absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiations and is continuously being converted back to molecular oxygen.

 

Stratospheric Ozone

  • The Ozone concentration in stratosphere is about 10 parts per million compared to 0.05 ppm concentration of tropospheric ozone.
  • The stratospheric Ozone concentration is disturbed by reactive atoms of chlorine, bromine etc., which destroy ozone molecules and result in thinning of ozone layer generally called ozone hole.

 

Thinning of Ozone Layer

  • Generally Ozone depletion is observed during spring season of South Pole.
  • Since mid-1970s there is a steep decline in the concentration of ozone.
  • CFCs are released in the troposphere and reach the stratosphere and remain there for 65 to 110 years destroying ozone molecules.
  • In 1985 scientists for the first time discovered that 50% (98% in some areas) of upper stratospheric ozone over Antarctica had got destroyed during Antarctic spring and early summer.
  • A similar scenario of destruction of ozone is seen on the North Pole during the Arctic spring and early summer.
  • However, the depletion here is 10-25%.

 

What causes Ozone Depletion?

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are mainly responsible for ozone depletion in the stratosphere.
  • CFCs are used as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners, as propellants, cleaning solvents, sterilisers and in styrofoam etc.
  • Nitrous oxide released during denitrification of nitrates also destroys stratospheric ozone.
  • Further bromine atoms also destroy hundred times of more ozone molecules than chlorine atoms.
  • Bromine in the form of hydro-bromic fluorocarbons (HBFCs) are used in fire extinguishers and methyl bromide is used as a pesticides.

 

Steps to contain Ozone Depletion

Vienna Convention

  • The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was agreed upon at the Vienna Conference of 1985.
  • It acts as a framework for the international efforts to protect the ozone layer.
  • However it does not include legally binding reduction goals for the use of CFCs.

 

Montreal Protocol

  • The Montreal Protocol is a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.
  • Adopted in 1987 it is a legally binding treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances mainly CFCs that are responsible for ozone depletion.
  • Since 2010, the agenda of the Protocol has focused on the phase-out of hydrochloroflurocarbons.

 

About Kigali Agreement

  • A historic global climate deal was reached in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016.
  • Kigali Agreement amended the1987 Montreal Protocol to phase out Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by the late 2040s.
  • Set to enter in to force on 1 January 2019, the Kigali Amendment calls for slashing the future use of HCFC gases in refrigerators, air conditioners and related products.
  • Nations that ratify the Kigali Amendment are committing to cutting the projected production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), by more than 80 percent by 2045.
  • Now according to the report by implementing Kigali agreement global warming can reduce up to 0.5°C of global warming this century.
  • HCFCs are potent greenhouse gas mainly used in cooling and refrigeration applications and in the manufacture of foam products.

 

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

Background on plastic pollution in India

Background on plastic pollution in India

  • According to the recent CPCB data, India generates more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, of which 40% remains uncollected and ends up as waste.
    • This uncollected causing choking of drainage and river systems, littering of the marine ecosystem, soil and water pollution, ingestion by stray animals, and open air burning leading to adverse impact on human health and environment.
  • About 67% of the plastic waste generated in India is High Density Polyethylene (HDP) (Tupperware, shampoo bottles etc.) and Low Density Polyethylene (LDP) (plastic bags for computer components, juice cartons, plastic wraps etc.).
  • India is doing well in recycling common plastic waste from PET plastic waste (from drinking water and soft drink bottles, plastic jars, plastic sheets etc).
  • However, HDP/LDP plastic waste recycling is extremely low in India.
  • One reasons of low level of recycling is that about 40% of HDP/LDP plastic waste in India goes uncollected.
  • In this backdrop, KVIC launched the REPLAN project in 2018.

 

REPLAN (Reducing Plastic in Nature)

  • REPLAN is a project of KVIC that aims to use plastic waste in a semi-permanent manner in order to reduce the availability of plastic in nature.
  • Under the REPLAN project, plastic is collected, chopped into fine pieces and mixed with cotton fibre rags in the ratio 80:20 (80-cotton rags pulp & 20-plastic waste) which undergoes multiple stages of treatment to produce a pulp that is turned into paper, or the “the plastic paper”.
  • Because of its strength and durability, this “plastic paper” to make useful products like paper bags, notebooks and other household items.
  • At present, the plastic paper is being produced at Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, a KVIC unit in Jaipur. More units are planned for localised production of the paper.

 

Advantages

  • REPLAN project can go a long way in reducing plastic waste in India by increasing collection of HDP/LDP plastic waste.
  • Thus, it can potentially increase the rate of recycling in India.
  • Further, the carry bags made out of REPLAN were found to be more durable, and cheaper.
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