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16 Jan, 2023

21 Min Read

Asian Waterbird Census & Kole Wetland

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Conservation

Asian Waterbird Census & Kole Wetland

According to a survey done as part of the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2023, some migratory waterbird species, particularly duck species that visit Kerala's Alappuzha region, are experiencing declining populations.

What are the Survey's Highlights?

  • Significantly absent this time around were duck species including the Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon that had been spotted in prior surveys.
  • Impact of Climate Change: The number of birds that visit the area has decreased as a result of climate change. More thorough research is necessary to determine the specific effects of climate change on bird migration.

The number of birds in the Kole Wetland of Kerala declined:

  • Thrissur-Ponnani kole fields, a Ramsar site known for the number and diversity of birds, on the first day of 2023 recorded the lowest count of waterbirds in three decades here. Kole wetlands, spread over an area of 13,632 hectares straddling Thrissur and Malappuram districts.

Reasons for decline in number of migratory birds in the Kole Wetland:

  • Farming-related human interventions such as heavy use of pesticides, dredging, and disinfecting fields for fish farming could have played a crucial role in the avian population decline.
  • The dumping of waste on wetlands also threatens the ecosystem.
  • Huge machinery has been introduced to mechanize farming. In the name of improving facilities for farmers, the muddy bunds have been replaced by concrete bunds. Crisscrossing the fields, many roads have come up. The entire hydrology of the Kole field was drastically changed.
  • Increased human intervention, including dredging using earthmovers, lorries, and tarring of roads, may have hit the arrival of birds.
  • The shortage of food and loss of breeding ground, they would’ve migrated to better places.
  • Increasing invasive species: Trees along the bunds in kole fields are infested by the invasive alien climber, Mikania micrantha, which is popularly known as mile-a-minute weed. The infestation will lead to the drying of the tree. The fast-spreading climber is capable of destroying perching sites for birds and reduces the foraging area for birds, especially for raptors and other fish-hunters.
  • The aquatic invasive plants such as specieswater hyacinth, salvinia (african payal), water spinach, red cabomba, and yellow burhead grow during monsoon in the wetland , covering the wetland which prevents penetration of light in the water, thereby reducing the availability of oxygen and preventing the growth of aquatic organisms, a major source of food for the Kole birds.


  • The decline in the number of birds in the wetland ecosystem will destabilize and ruin it. They play an important part in the ecosystem as bird droppings nurture the fields, and it induces activities of many organisms in the water including fish. Many birds eat insects, herbs, pests, and weeds, helping to farm. Others facilitate pollination. The loss of habitat of birds portends a gloomy future for this ecosystem.???????

About the Asian Waterbird Census:

  • It's a citizen science initiative that promotes the protection and management of wetlands and waterbirds across the globe.
  • The AWC is a component of the Wetlands International-led International Waterbird Census (IWC), which is conducted worldwide.
  • AWC runs concurrently with other IWC regional programs in the Neotropics, West Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

AWC in India:

  • The organization was founded in the Indian subcontinent in 1987, and it has since expanded quickly to include the majority of Asia, from Afghanistan to Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australasia in the east.
  • The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Wetlands International collaborate to coordinate AWC in India.
  • It provides information about the wetland's health and bird population; the more waterbirds there are, the better the wetland is suited for their needs.
  • It aids in the better execution of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Migratory Species.

Source: The Hindu

Doppler Weather Radar Network

GS-III : Disaster and Disaster management Natural calamities

Doppler Weather Radar Network

  • The Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) Systems in Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh were unveiled by the Ministry of Earth Science on the occasion of the 148th anniversary of the establishment of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • In order to provide more precise forecasts for extreme weather occurrences, the Ministry of Earth Science is also working to extend the Doppler weather radar network across the entire nation by 2025.

Doppler weather radars: what are they?

  • It is a customized radar that generates velocity information about distant objects using the Doppler effect.

[Doppler phenomenon: The observer notices a shift in frequency when the source and the signal are moving relative to one another. Frequency rises as they got closer, and vice versa.]

  • The Doppler-based radar uses a parabolic dish antenna and a foam sandwich spherical Radome to increase precision in long-range weather forecasting and surveillance.
  • The DWR has the tools necessary to pinpoint the center of a storm, the path of a tornado or gust front, and the intensity and velocity of the wind.

About radar or Radio Detection and Ranging:

  • It is a device that locates moving and non-moving objects by measuring their range and direction, altitude, intensity, and movement using electromagnetic waves in the microwave range.

Why Doppler weather Radar or weather forecast is important?

  • Warning and advisory services are helping farmers and fishermen to improve their economy as found from the latest survey by National Centre for Applied Economic Research.
  • The web GIS services launched by Indian Metrological Department (IMD) in collaboration with other state and central agencies are helping the public, disaster managers, and stakeholders to initiate timely response action to mitigate disasters.
  • Prediction of weather including monsoons and cyclones are important as our GDP is still largely dependent on agriculture.
  • Minimizing loss of lives from various extreme events like cyclones, heavy rain, thunderstorm, heat wave, and cold wave, etc. in recent years has been made possible due to precise forecasting and timely warnings.
  • Impact-based weather forecasts and risk-based warnings at the city and district levels reduces hazard, vulnerability, and better risk assessment.
  • Forecasting of monsoons that are lifelines to our food security has resulted not only in the improvement of the economy but also reducing the loss of lives due to monsoonal floods and droughts in the South Asian region.
  • Weather forecasts are also playing an important role in sectors like Power, Travel &Tourism, Aviation, and Railways.

India uses Space-based observation of INSAT-3D and 3DR, OceanSat satellites for the prediction of weather events. Also, the radars and satellite data processing system were launched last year by IMD. Flash Flood Guidance in 2021 has been augmented further by increasing the number of watersheds from 30,000 to 1,00,000 in the country in 2022. It is being provided every 6 hours to Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka apart from our national use.

Source: PIB

Shukrayaan mission

GS-III : S&T Space

Shukrayaan mission

  • Shukrayaan I, an ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) Venus mission, could be delayed until 2031. The Venus mission of ISRO was scheduled to launch in December 2024.
  • Venus missions called VERITAS and EnVision, respectively, are scheduled to launch in 2031 by the U.S.
  • European space agencies, while a launch by China could occur in 2026 or 2027.

Reason for the delay:

  • The pandemic forced ISRO to delay the launch of Shukrayaan I from mid-2023 to December 2024.
  • Delays in manufacturing and obligations to commercial launch services have also had an impact on other ISRO projects, such as Aditya L1 and Chandrayaan III.
  • The best time to launch from Earth to Venus is once every 19 months or thereabouts. In case it misses the 2024 window, ISRO has "backup" launch dates in 2026 and 2028.
  • But every eight years, new better windows present themselves that further cut down on the quantity of fuel needed for takeoff.
  • Experts currently rate the 2031 window as being in extremely good condition.
  • Prior to spacecraft assembly and testing, the project is also "waiting for formal clearance and funding."
  • Depending on how it is ultimately configured, the orbiter might support a science payload of up to 100 kg and 500 W of electricity.

About Shukrayaan Mission:

  • From an elliptical orbit, the mission will likely research Venus's geological and volcanic activities, emissions on the surface, wind speed, cloud cover, and other planetary features.
  • It is anticipated that the initial elliptical orbit of Venus will measure 500 km at periapsis and 60,000 km at apoapsis.
  • The GSLV Mk II rocket will be used to launch the satellite.
  • Sweden is joining India's Shukrayaan Venus orbiter mission with a scientific tool to study the planet.
  • Venusian Neutrals Analyzer (VNA), a satellite instrument from the Institute of Space Physics (IRF), will examine how the charged particles from the Sun interact with the planet's atmosphere and exosphere.

Shukrayaan Venus mission's importance:

  • The subsurface of Venus has never been observed before. The sub-surface radar will therefore be flown for the first time during the mission. Up to a few hundred meters of Venus' subsurface will be penetrated.
  • A device to study Venus' atmosphere in the infrared, ultraviolet, and submillimeter range will also be carried by the expedition.
  • It will shed light on the atmospheric conditions and the evolution of Earth-like planets.
  • A futuristic illustration of how climate change may significantly affect a planet will also be a goal of this project.

Mission Shukrayaan's difficulties:

  • Venus's dense atmosphere and surface activity make it a challenging place to maneuver. The complexity level is far higher than on Mars.
  • The instruments must travel far through the atmosphere in order to gain deeper knowledge.
  • In order to see through the clouds and darkness of the Venusian atmosphere, high-resolution sensors are required.

About Planet Venus:

  • The second planet from the Sun and nearest planetary neighbor to Earth is Venus.
  • It is one of the four inner, rocky terrestrial planets and is frequently referred to be Earth's twin due to similarities in size and density. There are significant variances between the two planets, and they are not identical twins.
  • Venus is permanently cloaked in thick, yellowish sulfuric acid clouds that trap heat and contribute to a runaway greenhouse effect. Venus also has a thick, toxic atmosphere that is packed with carbon dioxide.
  • Venus has days that are longer than a year. Venus takes longer to complete one rotation on its axis than it does to complete one orbit around the Sun.
  • Only 224.7 Earth days are needed to complete one orbit of the Sun, which is the shortest orbital period of any planet in the Solar System at 243 Earth days.
  • After the Moon, it is the second-brightest natural object in the night sky.
  • Venus and Uranus rotate on their axes in the opposite direction From east to west from the other planets in our solar system

Future missions to Venus:

Three more Venus missions were announced in June 2021. NASA and ESA each announced two new missions:


  • Venus will be explored by NASA's VERITAS spacecraft, which stands for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy, for the first time since the 1990s. The launch of the spacecraft won't happen before December 2027. In its orbit around Venus, it will collect information to show how the trajectories of Venus and Earth changed and how Venus lost its ability to support life.


  • The DAVINCI mission from NASA will take off in the late 2020s. DAVINCI will send a probe down to the surface of Venus after examining the top of the atmosphere.
  • The probe will take thousands of measurements and close-up pictures of the surface during its hour-long fall. The probe might not survive the landing, but if it does, it might offer some more science for a while.


  • EnVision has been chosen by ESA ( Europen Space Agency) to conduct in-depth observations of Venus. As a significant mission partner, NASA is supplying the VenSAR Synthetic Aperture Radar to collect high-resolution data on the planet's surface characteristics

Source: The Hindu

Harvest Festivals in India

GS-I : Art and Culture Festivals

Harvest Festivals in India

In recent years, the harvest holidays like Lohri, Makar Sankranti, and Pongal have been celebrated nationwide.

Various harvest festivals celebrated all over India:


  • Sikhs and Hindus tend to celebrate Lohri the most.
  • It signals the end of winter and is seen as the arrival of the sun in the northern hemisphere.
  • This occasion is celebrated with a Puja Parikrama (revolve) around the bonfire and prasad the night before Makar Sankranti.
  • It is referred to be the celebration of the farmers and harvest, during which the farmers express their gratitude to the Supreme Being.


  • Pongal literally translates to "overflow" or "boiling over."
  • The four-day celebration, also known as Thai Pongal, is commemorated in the Thai month when crops like rice are harvested and people express their thanks to God and the land's gift.
  • Tamilians mark the occasion by creating kolams, or rice-powdered designs, in their homes.


  • In Assam, festivities take place during the annual harvest. To celebrate the start of the Assamese new year, people participate in Rongali/Magh Bihu celebrations.
  • It is thought that the event began when residents of the valley began cultivating the soil. The Brahmaputra River is thought to be as old as Bihu.

Makar Sankranti:

  • On its celestial journey, the sun enters the sign of Makara (Capricorn) on this day, which is known as Makar Sankranti.
  • The day signals the start of summer and the beginning of the Hindu festival of Uttarayan, which lasts six months and is named for the sun's northward motion.
  • Since 1989, the Gujarat government has been hosting the International Kite Festival as a component of the recognised festival of "Uttarayan."
  • Different ethnic groups in India refer to the celebrations associated with the day by different names: north Indian Hindus and Sikhs refer to them as Lohri, central Indian Hindus refer to them as Sukarat, Assamese Hindus refer to them as Bhogali Bihu, and Tamil and other South Indian Hindus refer to them as Pongal.

Makaravilakku festival in Sabarimala:

  • Sabarimala's Makaravilakku celebration is held there in the revered grove of Lord Ayyappa.
  • It is a yearly event that starts on Makar Sankranti, the day the sun reaches the summer solstice, and lasts for seven days.
  • The Makarajyothi, a celestial star that emerges on top of Kantamala Hills on the day of Makar Sankranti, is the festival's main attraction.
  • The rite known as "Guruthi," which is an offering intended to placate the gods and goddesses of the wilderness, concludes Makara Vilakku.

Source: Times Of India

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