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August 2017 Environment

  • Climate Change could shrink fish size by 30 per cent
    Fish are expected to shrink in size by 20 to 30 per cent if ocean temperatures continue to climb due to climate change, a study has warned. The study by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada provides a deeper explanation of why fish are expected to decline in size. 

    According to Daniel Pauly, the study's lead author, as fish grow into adulthood their demand for oxygen increases because their body mass becomes larger. However, the surface area of the gills - where oxygen is obtained - does not grow at the same pace as the rest of the body. For example, as a fish like cod increases its weight by 100 per cent, its gills only grow by 80 per cent or less. 

    When understood in the context of climate change, this biological rule reinforces the prediction that fish will shrink and will be even smaller than thought in previous studies. 

    Warmer waters increase fish's need for oxygen but climate change will result in less oxygen in the oceans. This means that gills have less oxygen to supply to a body that already grows faster than them. 

    The researchers said this forces fish to stop growing at a smaller size to be able to fulfill their needs with the little oxygen available to them. Some species may be more affected by this combination of factors. Tuna, which are fast moving and require more energy and oxygen, may shrink even more when temperatures increase. 

    Smaller fish will have an impact on fisheries production as well as the interaction between organisms in the ecosystems. 

  • Jammu and Kashmir Government to build Eco Park at Rajouri
    The Jammu and Kashmir Government decided to build an Eco-Park on over 34 acres of land reclaimed from encroachers in the state's Rajouri district. The park is a first-of-its-kind project in the region. It will have a botanical garden, a cactus garden, a cafeteria and other amenities. Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed is the present CM of Jammu and Kashmir. 

  • Cyborg bacteria can harvest solar energy to produce fuel
    Scientists have created cyborg bacteria – microbes covered with tiny, highly efficient solar panels – that are better than plants at harvesting the Sun’s energy to produce fuel from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis provides energy for the vast majority of life on Earth. However, chlorophyll, the green pigment that plants use to harvest sunlight, is relatively inefficient. 

    To enable humans to capture more of the Sun’s energy than natural photosynthesis can, scientists have taught bacteria to cover themselves in tiny, highly efficient solar panels to produce useful compounds. “Rather than rely on inefficient chlorophyll to harvest sunlight, I have taught bacteria how to grow and cover their bodies with tiny semiconductor nano crystals,” said Kelsey K Sakimoto, from University of California, Berkeley in the US. 

    “These nano crystals are much more efficient than chlorophyll and can be grown at a fraction of the cost of manufactured solar panels,” said Sakimoto. Humans increasingly are looking to find alternatives to fossil fuels as sources of energy and feedstocks for chemical production. 

    Many scientists have worked to create artificial photosynthetic systems to generate renewable energy and simple organic chemicals using sunlight. Progress has been made, but the systems are not efficient enough for commercial production of fuels and feedstocks. 

  • New frog species with pig face discovered in Western Ghats
    Indian scientists discovered Nasikabatrachus Bhupathi, a new species of frog that has a snout-shaped nose, just like a pig in West Ghats. Nasikabatrachus Bhupathi species show comparisons with the Purple Frog (Nasikabatrachus Sahyadrensis) which was discovered in 2003 in Seychelles. It is soiled-dwelling species of purple frog. It inhabits the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. 

  • Eco Park at Jammu and Kashmir
    The Jammu and Kashmir Government decided to build an Eco-Park on over 34 acres of land reclaimed from encroachers in the state's Rajouri district. The park is a first-of-its-kind project in the region. It will have a botanical garden, a cactus garden, a cafeteria and other amenities. Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed is the present CM of Jammu and Kashmir. 

  • 100 volcanoes discovered under Antarctica ice sheets
    Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on the Earth—consisting of almost 100 volcanoes—2km below the surface of Antarctica’s ice sheet. 

    Researchers at Edinburgh University in the UK revealed a staggering 91 volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered previously, with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 m in Switzerland. 

    The newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 m to 3,850 m. All of them are covered in thick layers of ice. 

    These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system, which stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf to the Antarctic Peninsula, researchers said. 

    Researchers also pointed to an alarming trend that most volcanism in the world at present is in regions that have only recently lost their glacier covering—after the end of the last ice age. 

    This could happen in west Antarctica, where significant warming in the region caused by climate change has begun to affect its ice sheets. 

  • New species of grass snake identified in Europe
    Scientists have identified a new type of barred snakes, taking the number of European grass snakes species to four. The grass snake is among the most common and widespread snakes in Europe yet relatively little is known to date about the genetic identity of these non-toxic reptiles, which can reach a length of up to one metre. 

    Researchers examined the genetic identity of more than 1,600 grass snakes many of them scientific museum specimens. Two "contact zones" of grass snakes were examined closely. One of the zones is located in the Rhine region, the other extends from Central Germany down to the southern Balkans. 

    In these zones, different genetic lineages of the grass snake meet, which in part had previously been thought to represent different subspecies. Such contact zones are viewed as natural laboratories for evolution, since they allow the study of hybridisation and speciation, researchers said. 

    The two contact zones examined in this study represent different stages in the speciation process: The eastern contact zone reveals a complete mixing of the involved genetic lineages over hundreds of kilometres (km), they said. 

    Researchers found that in the Rhine region, on the other hand, the hybrid zone is less than 50 km wide, and the admixture is very limited and unidirectional, primarily with barred grass snakes cross-breeding with Eastern Grass Snakes, but rarely the other way around. 

  • India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol
    India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases, reaffirming its stand on climate action. In a brief statement, India's Permanent Mission to the UN said that India deposited its Instrument of Acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol under the UN Convention on Climate Change 8th August. 

    With this, India became the 80th country to accept the amendment relating to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the international emissions reduction treaty. 

    The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. The Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005. 

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga approves 7 projects
    The Executive Committee of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in its 4th meeting approved seven projects in the sector of sewage infrastructure that development and research. Three projects were approved in sewage sector in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Central Government will provide operation and maintenance cost for 15 years to all these six projects along with 100% central assistance. The study will be an extension of a research carried out by National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to identify the special properties of river’s waters. 

  • Earth to warm 2 degrees Celsius by end of this century: Study
    Earth may see a temperature increase of 2 to 4.9 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, much higher than the target of 1.5 degrees set by the 2016 Paris Agreement. 

    A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change says there is only a five per cent chance that the Earth will warm two degrees or less by the end of this century. The study underlines that damages from heat extremes, drought, extreme weather and sea level rise will be much more severe if two degrees Celsius or higher temperature rise is allowed. 

  • India may face deadly heat wave within decades, says study
    Nearly 1.5 billion people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are likely to face deadly heat waves within the next few decades due to climate change, exposing them to unsurvivable temperatures and widespread food crisis, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study has warned. 

    Scientists predicted that by the end of this century climate change could lead to severe summer heat waves in South Asia, a region of deep poverty where one-fifth of the world’s population resides. 

    There is still time to avert such severe warming if measures are implemented now to reduce the most dire consequences of global warming, researchers said. 

    However, without significant reductions in carbon emissions, the heat waves could begin within as little as a few decades to strike the fertile Indus and Ganga river basins that produce much of the region’s food supply, they said. 

    The areas likely to be hardest hit in northern India, Bangladesh and southern Pakistan are home to 1.5 billion people. 

    These areas are also among the poorest in the region, with much of the population dependent on subsistence farming that requires long hours of hard labour out in the open and unprotected from the Sun. While the projections show the Persian Gulf may become the region of the worst heat waves on the planet, northern India is a close second, Eltahir said, and eastern China, also densely populated, is third. The highest concentrations of heat in the Persian Gulf would be out over the waters of the Gulf itself, with lesser levels over inhabited land. 

    The new analysis is based on recent research showing the hot weather’s most deadly effects for humans comes from a combination of high temperature and high humidity, an index which is measured by a reading known as wet-bulb temperature. 

    The summer of 2015 also produced one of the deadliest heat waves in history in South Asia, killing an estimated 3,500 people in Pakistan and India. 

    Yet, India and China remain two countries where emission rates of greenhouse gases continue to rise, driven mostly by economic growth

    The study shows that by century’s end the most extreme, once-in-25-years heat waves would increase from wet-bulb temperatures of about 31 to 34.2 degrees Celsius.
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