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Environment Current Affairs
Environment Current Affairs December 3rd Week 2018
Author : Admin
Category : Environment Current Affairs
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Environment Current Affairs December 3rd Week 2018

 1. Winter Solstice on December 21st

This year the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st.
The winter solstice happens every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. 
In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the Sun, delivering the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.
The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the December solstice and is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year.
The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high and the shortest noontime shadow of the year happens there. In the Southern Hemisphere, people will experience their longest day and shortest night.
While it more often than not falls on December 21st, the exact time of the solstice varies each year. In the Northern hemisphere the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, because it is tilted away from the sun, and receives the least amount of sunlight on that day.
However, the earliest sunset does not occur on the solstice, because of the slight discrepancy between ‘solar time’ and the clocks we use.
The shortest day of the year often falls on December 21st, but the modern calendar of 365 days a year – with an extra day every four years – does not correspond exactly to the solar year of 365.2422 days.
The solstice can happen on December 20, 21, 22 or 23, though December 20 or 23 solstices are rare. The last December 23 solstice was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303.
2. Rhino carcass recovered at Kaziranga national park
In Assam, a Rhino carcass hasbeen recovered at the Kaziranga national park.
Official sources suspected that the poachers killed the rhino and hadchopped off the horn of the rhino. 
Tourists saw the carcass at the Bagorirange and informed the authority.
Park authority launched manhunt to nab the poachers.
State Forest ministerParimal Suklabaidya instructed the Kaziranga national park authority to arrestthe poachers involved in the crime.
It was the first rhino poaching incident in Kaziranga in the last 8months.
3. Flowers originated 50 million years earlier than thought: Study
Scientists have identified a fossil plant species that suggests flowers bloomed in the Early Jurassic, more than 174 million years ago. Till now, angiosperms (flowering plants) were thought to have a history of no more than 130 million years.
The discovery of the novel flower species, which the researchers named Nanjinganthus dendrostyla, throws widely accepted theories of plant evolution into question, by suggesting that they existed around 50 million years earlier.
Nanjinganthus also has a variety of `unexpected` characteristics according to almost all of these theories. Angiosperms are an important member of the plant kingdom, and their origin has been the topic of long-standing debate among evolutionary biologists.
The research team in China studied 264 specimens of 198 individual flowers preserved on 34 rock slabs from the South Xiangshan Formation -- an outcrop of rocks in the Nanjing region of China renowned for bearing fossils from the Early Jurassic epoch.
The abundance of fossil samples allowed the researchers to dissect some of them and study them with sophisticated microscopy, providing high-resolution pictures of the flowers from different angles and magnifications. 
They then used this detailed information about the shape and structure of the different fossil flowers to reconstruct the features of Nanjinganthus dendrostyla. 
This was a crucial discovery, because the presence of this feature confirmed the flower`s status as an angiosperm, researchers said.
4. Great Indian Bustard: under the critically endangered list
Wildlife organisations have got together to launch a campaign to save the Great Indian Bustard which in recent years has come under the critically endangered list. 
With the total global population of the Great Indian Bustard reaching and all time low at fewer than 150 individuals, this campaign is the need of the hour.
The wildlife organisations that have launched the campaign are The Corbett Foundation in collaboration with Conservation India and Sanctuary Nature Foundation.
The campaign aims at highlighting the overhead power transmission lines that result in the death of these low flying birds with a limited field of vision. This is the primary threat to the survival of the species especially in the Great Indian Bustard Habitat.
Significant threats to the GIB:
Reduction in the extent of undisturbed arid grassland habitat.
Degradation and disturbance in existing grassland habitat.
Lack of importance for natural grassland conservation in policy, law and PA network due to incorrect perception on ecological value vis-a-vis forests.
Lack of protection for many ‘lekking’ and nesting sites.
Lack of cooperation between different departments/stakeholders in GIB habitats.
Lack of awareness and support from local communities.
Livestock overgrazing and feral dogs.
Disturbance by photographers — there is now enough anecdotal evidence to show that photography of the species causes significant disturbance.
About the Great Indian Bustard:
Great Indian Bustard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitatsof the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
Project Great Indian Bustard — state of Rajasthan — identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as provide secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas
5. Mount Soputan, Pacific ring of fire
One of the most active volcanoes of Indonesia, Mount Soputan volcano, erupted recently. It is located on the Sulawesi island in Indonesia.
Indonesia sit along the Ring of Fire region, an area where most of the world’s volcanic eruptions occur. 
The Ring of Fire has seen a large amount of activity in recent days, but Indonesia has been hit hard due to its position on a large grid of tectonic plates.
Vulnerable: Indonesia is at the meeting point of three major continental plates – the Pacific, the Eurasian and the Indo-Australian plates – and the much smaller Philippine plate. 
As a result, several volcanoes on the Indonesian islands are prone to erupting, with Bali’s Mt Agung taking the headlines last year and in 2018. 
Indonesia is home to roughly 400 volcanoes, out of which 127 are currently active, accounting for about a third of the world’s active volcanoes.
The Ring of Fire is a Pacific region home to over 450 volcanoes, including three of the world’s four most active volcanoes – Mount St. Helens in the USA, Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
It is also sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt.
Around 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur in the Ring of Fire, and 80% of the world’s largest earthquakes. 
The 40,0000 kilometre horse-shoe-shaped ring loops from New Zealand to Chile, passing through the coasts of Asia and the Americas on the way.
It stretches along the Pacific Ocean coastlines, where the Pacific Plate grinds against other, smaller tectonic plates that form the Earth’s crust – such as the Philippine Sea plate and the Cocos and Nazca Plates that line the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
The people most at risk from activity in the Ring of Fire are in the US west coast, Chile, Japan and island nations including the Solomon Islands. 
These areas are most at risk because they lie on so-called subduction zones – which are boundaries that mark the collision between two of the planet’s tectonic plates.
The Ring of Fire is the result from subduction of oceanic tectonic plates beneath lighter continental plates. 
The area where these tectonic plates meet is called a subduction zone.
The world’s deepest earthquakes happen in subduction zone areas as tectonic plates scrape against each other – and the Ring of Fire has the world’s biggest concentration of subduction zones.
As energy is released from the earth’s molten core, it forces tectonic plates to move and they crash up against each other, causing friction.
The friction causes a build-up of energy and when this energy is finally released it causes an earthquake.
If this happens at sea it can cause devastating tsunamis.
Tectonic plates usually only move on average a few centimetres each year, but when an earthquake strikes, they speed up massively and can move at several metres per second. 
6. India, Nepal, Bhutan plan joint task force to protect wildlife
The governments of India, Nepal and Bhutan are actively considering having a joint task force for allowing free movement of wildlife across political boundaries and checking smuggling of wildlife across the Kanchenjunga Landscape, a trans-boundary region spread across Nepal, India and Bhutan.
The developments comes up after forest officials and representatives of non-government organisation of the three countries visited parts of the landscape and later held a meeting at Siliguri in north Bengal earlier this month.
Setting up of a joint task force is a key requirement in the road map on achieving the objectives of free movement of wildlife and checking smuggling of wildlife.
According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a regional knowledge development and learning centre, 1,118 sq km of riverine grassland and tree cover were lost in the landscape between 2000 and 2010. 74 % of the area was converted into rangeland and 26% to agricultural land.
Other than seven million people, the Kanchenjunga Landscape is also home to 169 species of mammals and 713 species of birds. Studies by the ICIMOD suggest that between 1986 and 2015, as many as 425 people were killed by elephants and 144 elephants were killed between 1958 and 2013.
7. Ground water extraction
The Central Ground Water Authority of the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation on December 12, 2018 notified revised guidelines for ground water extraction. 
The revised guidelines, which will be effective from June 1, 2019, aim to ensure a more robust ground water regulatory mechanism in the country.
The guidelines were revised in the wake of the directions issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to address various shortcomings in the existing guidelines of ground water extraction.
Encouraged use of recycled and treated sewage water by industries.
Provision of action against polluting industries.
Mandatory requirement of digital flow meters, piezometers and digital water level recorders, with or without telemetry depending upon quantum of extraction.
Mandatory water audit by industries abstracting ground water 500 m3/day or more in safe and semi-critical area and 200 m3/day or more in critical and over-exploited assessment units.
Mandatory roof top rain water harvesting except for specified industries.
Measures to be adopted to ensure prevention of ground water contamination in premises of polluting industries/ projects.
In India, extracted groundwater is mainly used for irrigation and accounts for about 228 BCM (billion cubic metre) — or about 90% of the annual groundwater extraction. The rest, 25 BCM, is drawn for drinking, domestic and industrial uses.
India is the largest user of groundwater in the world, and accounts for about 25% of the global water extraction.
8. UN Climate conference finalises rules to implement Paris climate treaty
After two weeks of intense negotiations at Katowice in Poland ministers of  200 nations finally reached consensus on rules to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The Paris accord aims to limit rise in global atmospheric temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial revolution levels. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the development. 
The concerns of developing nations including India and least developed nations on funding for carbon credit were finally addressed. 
The affluent nations which are the main polluters agreed to pay for greening in the underdeveloped world. 
The UN Secretary-General, however, qualified his praise for the negotiating nations saying that the approval of the Paris agreement work programme is the basis for a transformative process as this will require strengthened ambition from the international community.




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