February 2017 Environment


  • Scientists discovered new frog species in Western Ghats
    Indian scientists discover four new species of smallest known frogs from the Western Ghats. Another big discovery from the professor SD Biju from Delhi University (DU) and his team discovered four new miniature species, now listed among the smallest known frogs in the world. 

    The team has discovered seven new frog species, belonging to the genus Nyctibatrachus commonly known as Night Frogs. This find is a result of five years of extensive explorations in the Western Ghats global biodiversity hotspot in India. 

    Four out of seven of the new species are miniature-sized frogs (12.2-15.4 mm), which can comfortably sit on a coin or a thumbnail. These are among the smallest known frogs in the world. Unlike other frogs in the genus that are predominantly stream dwelling, the new miniature frogs were found under damp forest leaf litter or marsh vegetation. 


  • 2016 El Nino led to enormous coral death in Maldives 
    Increased surface ocean temperatures during the strong 2016 El Nino led to a major coral die-off in the Maldives, and this has caused reef growth rates to collapse, says a study. The so-called 'carbonate budget' of a reef, which represents the balance between the rate at which this carbonate is produced by corals and the rate at which it is removed (by biological or physical erosion or chemical dissolution), influences the development of these structures and how fast a reef can grow. 

    The researchers studied the impact of the 2016 El Nino event at sites in the southern Maldives. The study published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that the event had not only caused widespread coral bleaching, a phenomenon whereby corals expel their photosynthesizing algae when stressed by high temperatures, but that this had also led to extensive coral death in all shallow water reef habitats examined. 


  • National Biodiversity Congress 2017 held in Kerala
    The National Biodiversity Congress (NBC) 2017 was held in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala. The event is hosted by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board. NBC is one of the significant biodiversity mega events of the country. It aims to identify practical, evidence-based case studies at the regional level to support the plan of action. 

    The focal theme of 2017 NBC was “Mainstreaming Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”. This edition of the event had organised array of programmes including exhibition, conference, capacity building workshops and Children’s Biodiversity Congress. 


  • IPL auction: Ben Stokes gets highest bidding at IPL auction
    Auction for the 10th season of Indian Premier League began on 20th February in Bengaluru. Ben Stokes becomes the most expensive overseas acquisition in the history of the Indian Premier League as Rising Pune Supergiant prised him away for a massive 14.5 Crore. Tymal Mills is sold to RCB for a whopping Rs. 12 crore. 

    Afghanistan Mohammad Nabi becomes the first Afghan player to be sold in an IPL auction. He has been bought by RCB for Rs. 30 lakh. Indian pacer Ishant Sharma shockingly goes unsold. 


  • India beat South Africa in final of ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2017
    India beat South Africa by one wicket in the final of ICC Women World Cup Qualifier 2017 at Colombo on 21st February. India achieved the target of 245 runs on the last ball of the 50th over. 


  • Shurhozelie Liezietsu takes oath as Nagaland chief Minister
    The 81-year-old Liezietsu along with 11 ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Acharya at the Raj Bhavan. The new Chief Minister is at present not a member of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. 

    Nagaland has a 60-member Assembly. Liezietsu , who is the Naga People's Front president, succeeds T R Zeliang who stepped down amidst of protests by various tribal organisations against the state government's decision to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in urban local body elections. 


  • John-John Dohmen, Naomi Van named best hockey players of 2016
    Belgium's John-John Dohmen and Netherlands' Naomi Van were named as male and female Hockey Federation's Player of the Year award. 

    In an event hosted in Chandigarh on 23rd February, the Olympic silver medallists Dohmen and Naomi were handed these awards. Great Britain's Olympic gold medallist Maddie Hinch won the Hockey Stars 2016 female Goalkeeper of the Year award. 

    While, Ireland's David Harte was crowned the best in the world for the second year in a row as he received the male Goalkeeper of the Year award. Belgium's Arthur Van Doren was named male Rising Star of the Year. Maria Granatto from Argentina picked up the female Rising Star of the Year. 


  • India win bronze in ISSF World Cup
    Hosts India have opened their account with a Bronze medal in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup. On Day One of competitions at the Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on 24th February, Pooja Ghatkar overcame technical issues to clinch the women’s 10 metre air rifle bronze. The former Asian champion shot 228.8 in the final to finish third. 

    In Men's 10 metre air rifle final, Deepak Kumar finished fifth with a score of 185.4. Another Indian, Ravi Kumar, was placed eighth with 122.0. The event was won by China's Wong Buhan with a World Record score of 249.5. Peter Sidi of Hungary took the Silver, while Atsushi Shimada bagged the Bronze. 

    In the women’s trap event, Rajeshwari Kumari, Seema Tomar and Manisha Kheer failed to clear the qualification hurdle. Penny Smith of Australia won the gold medal in women’s trap with a world record score of 40, Italy’s Jessica Rossi bagged silver, while Mopsi Veromaa of Finland had to be content with the bronze. 

    At the end of day one, China led the medal standings with two gold and one silver, while India was fifth overall. The other gold of the day went to Australia. 


  • R Ashwin breaks Kapil Dev's record for most Test wickets 
    Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin added yet another feather to his cap by becoming the highest wicket-taker in a home Test season. Ashwin achieved the feat when he snared Mitchell Starc to bundle out Australia for 260 in their first innings on the second day of the ongoing first Test in Pune. 

    Ashwin, the fastest in the world to reach 250 Test wicket mark recently, dismissed overnight batsman Mitchell Starc with the fifth ball of the first over to end the visitors’ first innings at 260 and take his tally of wickets in the current home season to 64 in 10 Test matches. 

    Ashwin, thus, went past Kapil’s earlier mark of 63 wickets in 13 Tests created way back on 1979-80 at the beginning of the great all-rounder’s career. 


  • INS Sarvekshak goes green; instals solar power system
    Indian Navy's survey vessel INS Sarvekshak has gone green by installing a solar power system on board. Navy said the system, equipped on the ship is 100 per cent reliable for power source that can be used for communication equipment, battery charging and general lightings onboard round the clock with battery outputs during night. 

    It said, the system is maintenance free. The Navy further added that the estimated profit generated in a ship service life of 25 years is Rs 2.7 crore in this small project alone. It said, even if the system is used for 25 days in one year, the system can repay its cost in less than 10 years. 


  • India, China makes up 52% of early deaths on foul air
    India and China account for more than half of the world's premature deaths due to air pollution, a new report on 14th February said. Globally, there was 60 per cent rise in ozone-attributable deaths, with 67 per cent of this increase occurring in India, it said. 

    Noting that India's lives lost to the tiny particulate matter (PM) is "approaching" China's numbers, the 'State of Global Air 2017' report said that among the 10 most populous countries and the European Union (EU), Bangladesh and India have the highest exposure to PM2.5, the "steepest" rise since 2010. 

    The 'State of Global Air 2017' is the first of a new series of annual reports and accompanying interactive website designed by Health Effects Institute in cooperation with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and University of British Columbia. 

    China, India, Bangladesh, and Japan increases in exposure, combined with increases in population growth and ageing, resulted in net increases in attributable mortality. Meanwhile, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India had PM2.5 attributable Disability Adjusted Life Years rates that were 5 to 10 times the lowest rates, which were found in the US and Japan. 


  • Insurers call on G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020
    Investors and insurers with more than 2.8 trillion dollars in assets under management on 15th February called on the Group of 20 economies to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 despite US doubts about climate change. G20 nations should work to accelerate green investment and reduce climate risk. 

    All G20 nations signed up for a 2015 Paris Agreement aimed at phasing out greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels between 2050 and 2100 and shifting to cleaner energies to avert heat waves, floods, droughts and rising ocean levels. 


  • Antarctic sea ice hits record low
    Antarctic sea ice extent has shrunk to the lowest recorded-level in last four decades, scientists say. According to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), sea ice in the frozen continent covered just 2.26 million square kilometres on 14th February, dipping below the earlier 1997 record low. 

    The sea ice is likely to decrease further as it usually melts to its smallest for the year by February end in the summer of southern hemisphere, researchers said. Sea ice at both poles has been expected to decline as the Earth heats up due to man-made global warming. 

    The average extent of sea ice around the South Pole has tended to expand in recent years and hit a record high of around 20.16 million square km in September 2014. 


  • Anil Madhav Dave, Harsh Vardhan flags off science express train
    Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave and Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan on 17th February flagged off science express train in Delhi to tour across the country. According to Mr. Dave, Government is aiming to create awareness about climate change in every Indian citizen and making it a people's Movement. 

    The Science express - climate change special train is provided with special coaches displaying energy conservation methods and best scientific techniques employed in conservation of energy. The train has entered into Limca Book of records six times. 


  • Massive, ancient landslide discovered in Great Barrier Reef
    Scientists have discovered a massive undersea landslide in Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef that may have triggered a huge tsunami more than 300,000 years ago. The remains of the slip, known as the Gloria Knolls Slide, were discovered 75 kilometres off the north Queensland coast while the scientists were working from the Marine National Facilities blue-water research ship Southern Surveyor. 

    Modeling the potential tsunami for a sudden mass failure on this scale yields a three-dimensional tsunami wave elevation of about 27 metres. However, the wave would likely be dampened significantly by the presence of any coral reefs. 


  • New birds species discovered in Nepal
    A new species of birds has been discovered in the high mountainous region of Nepal, bringing the total number of avian species in the Himalayan country to 866. 

    A Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxitilis), considered an autumn passage migrant bird species in Pakistan and India, was first seen and photographed by an expedition last year near the Shey monastery within the Shey-Phoksundo National Park. 

    Researchers from an NGO Friends of Nature (FoN) Nepal spotted the bird while studying Himalayan wolf, wild yak and snow leopard last year. The identification of the bird reported by the team was confirmed by the bird experts Carol Inskipp and Hem Sagar Baral. 

    The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and Bird Conservation Nepal authorised the presence of a new bird species in the country, said Naresh Kusi, from FoN. 


  • Climate warming may up mercury levels in sea food: study
    Rising temperatures may boost levels of mercury – one of the world’s most toxic metals – in fish by up to seven times the current rates, say scientists. Researchers found that extra rainfall drives up the amount of organic material flowing into the seas. 

    This alters the food chain, adding another layer of complex organisms which boosts the concentrations of mercury up the line. According to the World Health Organisation, mercury is one of the top ten threats to public health. 

    The substance at high levels has been linked to damage to the nervous system, paralysis and mental impairment in children. The most common form of exposure to mercury is by eating fish containing methyl mercury, an organic form of the chemical which forms when bacteria react with mercury in water, soil or plants. 


  • Govt to raise awareness on wetland conservation
    The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) under the Environment Ministry has decided to organise two events to spread public awareness about conservation of wetlands which includes a radio-outreach and awareness generation campaign. 

    The World Wetland day 2017 on 2nd February, with the theme 'Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction' is being celebrated in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh government at Bhoj Wetlands Bhopal, which is one of the 26 Ramsar sites that India has designated under the Ramsar Convention. 

    World Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 2 each year to mark the day the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and India is a party to the convention since 1982 and committed to the Ramsar approach of wise use of wetlands.

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