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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

28 Jun, 2021

63 Min Read

JCPOA and IAEA

GS-II : International Relations Iran

Iran Nuclear Deal and JCPOA

  • Iran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it intends to produce uranium enriched to up to 20% purity, well beyond the threshold set by the 2015 Vienna accord, the UN nuclear watchdog said.
  • Iran informed the agency of its intention to enrich uranium at a rate of up to 20% in its Fordow underground plant, to comply with a law recently passed by the Iranian Parliament.
  • According to the latest report available from the UN agency, published in November, Tehran was enriching uranium to levels greater than the limit provided for in the Vienna agreement (3.67%) but not exceeding the 4.5% threshold, and still complied with the Agency’s very strict inspection regime.
  • But there has been turmoil since the assassination in late November of Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
  • In the aftermath of the attack, blamed on Israel, hardliners in Tehran pledged a response and Parliament passed a controversial law calling for the production and storage of “at least 120 kg per year of 20% enriched uranium” and to “put an end” to the IAEA inspections intended to check that the country is not developing an atomic bomb.
  • The Iranian government had opposed the initiative at the time.

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

  • It is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • Commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) together with the European Union.
  • It was signed between Iran and the P5, plus Germany and the EU in 2015. P5 is the 5 permanent members of the UNSC (US, China, France, Russia, and UK).
  • Under JCPOA, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.
  • For the next 15 years Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time.
  • Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks.
  • To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities.
  • The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and UNSC nuclear-related sanctions.
  • On 5 January 2020, in the aftermath of the Baghdad Airport Airstrike that targeted and killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Iran declared that it would no longer abide by the limitations of the deal but would continue to coordinate with the IAEA, leaving open the possibility of resuming compliance.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization in 1957.
  • Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
  • The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
  • The IAEA has two "Regional Safeguards Offices" which are located in Toronto, Canada, and in Tokyo, Japan.
  • The IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology and nuclear power worldwide.
  • The IAEA and its former Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2005.
  • Recently Iran has refused to allow IAEA to two sites where nuclear activity may have occurred in the past (Parachin and Frodo).

Other important Articles

1. Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action- Iran nuclear deal

2. Iran to enrich Uranium to 60%, the highest ever

3. Iran Nuclear Deal- Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Source: TH

How to minimize disaster risk for glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF)

GS-III : Disaster and Disaster management Flood

How to minimize disaster risk for glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF)

  • Suitably called Earth's “Third Pole”, the Himalayan region is home to the largest ice mass outside of the planet's Polar Regions.
  • The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting at a faster rate creating new lakes and expanding the existing ones.
  • Besides, the rising temperatures and extreme precipitation events make the region increasingly prone to a variety of natural hazards, including devastating glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
  • GLOFs occur when either a natural dam containing a glacial lake bursts or when the lake's level suddenly increases and overflows its banks, leading to catastrophic downstream destruction.
  • For example, in 2013, an avalanche caused the glacial moraine holding back Chorabari Lake in northern India to give way, releasing a sudden torrent of water, boulders, and debris that scoured the river valley below, resulting in the deaths of more than 5,000 people.
  • With climate change, these events are likely to increase in frequency and magnitude throughout the Himalayas.
  • However, the remote, challenging Himalayan terrain and the overall lack of cellular connectivity throughout the region have made the development of early flood warning systems virtually impossible.
  • Temperature and the numbers of extreme rainfall events are rising at an increased rate because of climate change.

A recent study

  • Satellite-based real-time monitoring of Himalayan glacial catchments would improve understanding of flood risk in the region and help inform an early flood warning system that could help curb disaster and save human lives, says a recent study.
  • This should be the future strategy to reduce loss of human lives during glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), said a study carried out by scientists from IIT Kanpur.
  • In their recent work, the Scientists also point out that the surge of meltwater in mountain streams is most commonly caused by cloud-burst events during the monsoon season (June–July–August) time frame.
  • However, the recent (7 February 2021) sudden surge of meltwater in the river tributary of the Ganga, Dhauli Ganga, during the dry season suggests that this time frame needs to be expanded.
  • The catastrophe in the upper Dhauli Ganga basin is linked to processes other than precipitation events, such as snow avalanches, rock landslides, or other unidentified drivers, and therefore determining all of the potential major and minor drivers behind sudden surges of meltwater into headwater streams is vital for understanding the hazard profile of the region.
  • The IIT Kanpur team suggests that efforts to help mitigate GLOF events in the future should include the creation of a network of satellite-based monitoring stations that could provide in situ and real-time data on GLOF risk.

Source: PIB

Indian Railways on way to become "Largest Green Railways" in the world with Zero Carbon Emission

GS-III : Economic Issues Railways

Indian Railways on way to become "Largest Green Railways" in the world with Zero Carbon Emission

  • Indian Railways (IR) is working in mission mode to become the largest Green Railways in the world and is moving towards becoming a “net zero carbon emitter” before 2030.
  • Railways is guided by a holistic vision of being an environment friendly, efficient, cost effective, punctual and a modern carrier of passengers as well as freight in order to serve the growing needs of New India.
  • IR is looking at helping the environment with steps ranging from massive electrification, water & paper conservation, to saving animals from being injured on Railway tracks.
  • Railway Electrification which is environment friendly and reduces pollution, has increased nearly ten times since 2014.
  • Capturing the economic benefits of electric traction in an accelerated manner, Railways has planned to electrify balance Broad Gauge (BG) routes by December, 2023 to achieve 100% electrification of BG routes.
  • Head-On-Generation systems, Bio-Toilets and LED lights recreate the train itself into a travel mode that’s kinder to the environment while maintaining comparable passenger comfort.
  • IR’s Dedicated Freight Corridors are being developed as a low carbon green transportation network with a long-term low carbon roadmap, which will enable it to adopt more energy efficient and carbon-friendly technologies, processes and practices.
  • IR is implementing two Dedicated Freight Corridor projects viz. Eastern Corridor (EDFC) from Ludhiana to Dankuni (1,875 km) and Western Corridor (WDFC) from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (1,506 km). Sonnagar-Dankuni (538 km) portion of EDFC has been planned for execution on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
  • IR’s network and reach enabled movement of Freight, like Food Grains & Oxygen in pandemic, even while being more environment friendly as compared to Road transport.
  • During the period April 2021 to May 2021, the Indian Railways moved 73 Lakh tonnes of food grains and has run 241 loaded Oxygen express trains, moving 922 loaded tankers, thereby transporting 15,046 tonnes of oxygen to various part of the country.

Green Certifications and implementation of Environment Management System:

  • MoU signed between IR and Confederation of Indian Industry in July 2016 for facilitation of Green initiatives on IR. 39 Workshops, 7 Production Units, 8 Loco Sheds and one Stores depot have been ‘GreenCo’ certified. These include 2 Platinum, 15 Gold and 18 Silver ratings.
  • Green certification mainly covers assessment of parameters having direct bearing on the environment, such as, energy conservation measures, use of renewable energy, Green House Gas emission reduction, water conservation, waste management, material conservation, recycling etc.
  • 19 Railway Stations have also achieved Green Certification including 3 Platinum, 6 Gold and 6 Silver ratings.
  • 27 more Railway Buildings, Offices, Campuses and other establishments are also Green certified including 15 Platinum, 9 Gold and 2 Silver ratings.
  • In addition, over 600 Railway Stations have been certified for implementation of the Environment Management System to ISO: 14001 in the last two years. A total of 718 stations have been identified for ISO : 14001 certification.
  • Indian Railways has incorporated Climate Change features in its own risk assessments and disaster management protocols.
  • As an organisation ready to manage the risks, and ask the right questions about its assets, routes & investments. Top management in IR’s many public sectors have been communicating with stakeholders for a shared understanding, needed for long-term health and sustainability of the organisations they lead.

Source: PIB

Dragon Fruit or Kamalam to be exported to Dubai

GS-III : Economic Issues Import / Export

Dragon Fruit or Kamalam to be exported to Dubai

  • In a major boost to export of exotic fruit, a consignment of fibre and mineral rich ‘Dragon Fruit’, also referred as Kamalam, has been exported to Dubai.
  • A consignment of Dragon Fruit for exports was sourced from the farmers of Tadasar village, Sangli district, Maharashtra and it was processed and packed at APEDA recognized exporter – M/s Kay Bee.
  • Scientifically referred to as Hylocereusundatus, the dragon fruit is grown in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, the USA and Vietnam.
  • Dragon fruit production commenced in India in early 1990s and was grown as home gardens. Dragon Fruit has become increasingly popular in recent years in the country as it has been taken up for cultivation by farmers across various states.
  • At present, dragon fruit is grown mostly in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The cultivation requires less water and can be grown in various kinds of soils.
  • There are three main varieties of dragon fruit: white flesh with pink skin, red flesh with pink skin, and white flesh with yellow skin.
  • Prime Minister Shri NarendraModi in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme in July 2020 on All India Radio had mentioned about the dragon fruit farming in the arid Kutch region of Gujarat. He had congratulated the farmers of Kutch for the cultivation of fruit for ensuring India’s self-sufficiency in the production.
  • The fruit contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can help in repairing the cell damage caused by oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, and also improving the digestive system. Since the fruit has spikes and petals resembling lotus, it is also referred as ‘Kamalam’.
  • APEDA promotes exports of agricultural & processed food products by providing assistance to the exporters under various components such as Infrastructure Development, Quality Development and Market Development. Apart from this the Department of Commerce also supports exports through various schemes like Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme, Market Access Initiative etc.

Source: PIB

Everything about Neutrinos

GS-III : S&T Indigenization of Technology

Everything about Neutrinos

  • Neutrinos was 1st proposed by Swiss scientist Wolfgang Pauli in 1930.
  • It is the 2nd most widely occurring particle in the Universe, after Photons (the particle which makes up light).
  • Neutrinos are so abundant among us that every second there are > 100 trillion of them passing right through each of us.
  • Properties of Neutrinos
    1. They are subatomic part different from Neutrons. Leptons family. No charge.
    2. In 2015, Nobel Prize given to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur Mcdonald for discovering Neutrino Oscillations demonstrating that Neutrinos have mass (tiny mass).
    3. Not affected by electromagnetic forces which act on electrons.
    4. Neutrinos occur in 3 different types. They are separated in terms of different masses.
    5. They are least harmful of all as they almost never react with solid bodies.
  • 3 sources = Sun, Black Hole, Nuclear explosion.
  • Significance
    1. They hold answers to fundamental questions on the origin of the Universe.
    2. Another application is in the are of neutrino tomograph of the earth (investigation of the structure of the Earth from Core).
    3. It can also be used for communication.
    4. It can be used to detect nuclear leakages and disasters.
    5. It can be used to detect oil reserves.
    6. It can detect nuke explosion, disaster Ex Japan as their speed > seismic waves.

  • Why is the laboratory underground?
    • They are difficult to detect in the laboratory because of their extremely weak interaction with matter. Plus, cosmic rays (interact more than neutrinos) and natural radioactivity can make it impossible to detect on the Earth surface.
    • Hence the observatories are located deep inside the Earth surface.

World Projects

  • Underground Observatories
    • Neutrino Oscillation was established by Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, Canada and Super Kamiokande experiment in Japan. They studies solar neutrinos, atmospheric neutrinos and man made neutrinos.
    • It is also at Gran Sasso, Italy.
  • Underwater Observatory: Amundsen, Antarctica and Antares - Mediterranean Sea, France.
  • Icecube = World's largest Neutrino Telescope - made from giant cube of ice at South Pole, Antarctica. It aims at detecting subatomic particles travelling near the speed oof light. It also detects Dark matter. It is buried deep in ice.

Indian Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project

  • INO Project is to be establish at Pottipuram, Theni district (Bodi Hills) in TN. (Charkonite rock)
  • The initial goal of INO is to study atmospheric neutrinos only. It is jointly funded by DAE and DST.
  • It includes construction of underground laboratory at Pottipuram. 1st phase will study Natural Neutrinos and 2nd phase will study factory made neutrinos from USA, Europe, Japan and Antarctica.
  • Construction of an Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector for studying neutrino masses. It will detect neutrinos through 150 layers of alternating iron slabs and glass detectors called Resistive plate chambers.
  • Setting up of National Centre for High Energy Physics at Madurai for operation of Pottipuram lab, HRD and detector R&D.

NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA)

Recently, NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) has detected the unusual upward movement of neutrinos in Antarctica.

What is ANITA?

  • Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) is a radio telescope instrument to detect ultra-high energy cosmic-ray neutrinos from a scientific balloon flying over the continent of Antarctica.
  • It involves an array of radio antennas attached to a helium balloon which flies over the Antarctic ice sheet at 37,000 meters.
  • At such a height, the antennas can listen to the cosmos and detect high-energy particles, known as neutrinos, which constantly bombard the planet.
  • It is the first NASA observatory for neutrinos of any kind.
  • ANITA detects neutrinos pinging in from space and colliding with matter in the Antarctic ice sheet through the Askaryan effect.
  • The Askaryan effect is the phenomenon whereby a particle traveling faster than the phase velocity of light in a dense dielectric (such as salt, ice or the lunar regolith) produces a shower of secondary charged particles.
  • When neutrinos smash into an atom, they produce a shower of detectable secondary particles.These detectable secondary particles allow us to probe where they came from in the universe.
  • However, neutrinos pose no threat to human beings and pass through most solid objects. Additionally, they rarely do interact with matter. It is named after Gurgen Askaryan, a Soviet-Armenian physicist who postulated it in 1962.

What is the news?

  • Instead of the high-energy neutrinos streaming in from space, they seem to have come from the Earth's interior, before hitting the detectors of ANITA. Usually, the high-energy particles move top to bottom (i.e. from space to the earth). However, ANITA has detected an anomaly i.e. particles have been detected travelling bottom to top.
  • Earlier, researchers had also located a deep-space source for high-energy neutrinos through the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory at a U.S. scientific research station at the South Pole in Antarctica (PT). The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is located at the Bodi West Hills region in Theni District of Tamil Nadu.

Source: PIB

Everything about Coral Reefs

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Wildlife & Fauna

Coral Reefs

  • Coral Polyp is a living animal living in a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthallae algae.
  • Corals are actually white and they receive their colors and Energy from zooxanthallae algae.
  • Coral polyp provides Algae with protected Environment.
  • Productivity of Estuaries > Swamp, Marshes, Wetlands > Coral Reefs > Equatorial and Tropical rainforests > Savannah.
  • Coral reefs are CaCO3 (Limestone) material. Majority of corals are found in tropical and subtropical water, there are also deepwater corals in colder regions.
  • Coral belongs to the class Anthozoa in the animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones and jellyfish.
  • Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that support and protect the coral.
  • Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated water.
  • Sometimes called rainforests of the sea, shallow coral reefs form some of Earth's most diverse ecosystems.
  • They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas.

Other terms

  • Cold Water Corals
    1. They inhabit deep, cold water. UNEP says that there are more cold water coral reefs worldwide than tropical reefs.
    2. The largest cold water coral reef is the Rost Reef off the coast of Norway.
  • Snowflake Coral: is a species of soft coral native to tropical western Atlantic Ocean. It is invasive species. It has emerged as a major threat to Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch and A&N Islands.
  • Retrotransposons: They are the specialized genes which may help Coral adapt more to heat stress.
  • Symbiodinium is a unicellular algae which gives Coral hosts photosynthetic products in return for nutrients and shelter.
  • According to UNEP, % of world area covered by each region: Indonesia 18%, Australia: 17% and Philippines: 9% so collectively that'll be more than 33%.
  • Staghorn Coral is Critically Endangered in IUCN. It's species declined by > 80% over last 30 years because of humans, disease and CC. It is vulnerable to bleaching.

  • Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services for tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection.
  • Coral reefs are fragile, partly because they are sensitive to water conditions.

Features of Coral Reefs

  • They occur in shallow tropical areas where the sea water is clean, clear and warm.
  • Coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse ecosystems, with more than 800 species of corals providing habitat and shelter for approximately 25% of global marine life.

Benefits of Coral Reefs

  • They protect coastlines from tropical storms, provide food and income for 1 billion people, and generate $9.6 billion in tourism and recreation each year.
  • Functions of Coral Reefs: Natural barriers against erosion and storm surge; captures nutrients; provide substrate for Mangroves and habitat for flora and fauna.

Growth conditions for Coral reefs

  • The temperature of the water should not be below 20°C. The most favourable temperature for the growth of the coral reefs is between 23°C to 25°C. The temperature should not exceed 35°C.
  • Corals can survive only under saline conditions with an average salinity between 27% to 40%.
  • Coral reefs grow better in shallow water having a depth less than 50 m. The depth of the water should not exceed 200m.

Types of Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs are differentiated into three categories based on their shape, nature and mode of occurrence.

  • Fringing Reef: The coral reefs that are found very close to the land and form a shallow lagoon known as Boat Channel are called Fringing Coral Reefs. The Fringing Reefs develop along the islands and the continental margins. They grow from the deep bottom of the sea and have their seaward side sloping steeply into the deep sea. Fringing Reefs are the most commonly found coral reefs among the three. For example Sakau Island in New Hebrides, South Florida Reef.
  • Barrier Reef: Barrier Reefs are considered as the largest, highest and widest reefs among the three coral reefs. They develop off the coast and parallel to the shore as a broken and irregular ring. Being the largest reef among the all, they run for 100kms and is several kilometres wide. Great Barrier Reef = It is World's largest coral reef system. Can be seen from space. World's biggest single structure made by living organisms. UNESCO WHS. It is in Queensland, Australia. Biggest coral reseeding project launched on Great Barrier Reef.
  • Atolls: An atoll can be defined as a reef that is roughly circular and surrounds a large central lagoon. This lagoon is mostly deep having a depth of 80-150 metres. The atolls are situated away from the deep sea platforms and are found around an island or on a submarine platform in an elliptical form. For example Fiji Atolls, Suvadivo in Maldives and Funafoothis Atoll of Ellice.

In India the types of Coral reefs are

  • Fringing Reefs in Andaman and Nicobar.
  • Barriers reefs in Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Kachch (Kurumbar, Neora and Bhaidar Island).
  • Atolls are found in Lakshadweep and Nicobar.
  • A&N corals are very rich in species diversity followed by Lakshadweep Islands, Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Kuchch.

Threats: They are under threat from excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), rising temperatures, oceanic acidification, overfishing (e.g., from blast fishing, cyanide fishing, spearfishing on scuba), sunscreen use, and harmful land-use practices, including runoff and seeps (e.g., from injection wells and cesspools)(PT).

Coral Bleaching

  • Coral Bleaching is the process when due to increased water temperature Coral hosts expels/ breaks the relation with Algae and thus it turns into white. It occurs when the zooxanthallae alge decline due to high temperature, solar irradiance, sedimentation etc.
  • When corals face stress by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. This phenomenon is called coral bleaching.
  • Xenobiotics: Zooxanthallae loss occurs during exposure of coral to elevated concentrations of various chemical contaminants like Cu, herbicides and oil.
  • They can recolonize when the water temperature reduces on the basis of Ecosystem resilience.
  • Epizootics: Pathogen induced bleaching is Epizootics.
  • The pale white colour is of the translucent tissues of calcium carbonate which are visible due to the loss of pigment producing zooxanthellae.
  • Corals can recover if the stress-caused bleaching is not severe.
  • Coral bleaching has occurred in the Caribbean, Indian, and Pacific oceans on a regular basis.

The United Nations has reported that:

  • 70% of the Earth's coral reefs are threatened,
  • 20% have been destroyed with no hope for recovery,
  • 24% are under imminent risk of collapse, and
  • an additional 26% are at risk due to longer-term threats.
  • According to a recent report, if stern measures to bring down the greenhouse gas emission levels are not adopted urgently, then Australia’s Great Barrier Reef might be in danger of coral bleaching as frequently as every two years by 2034. Large scale coral bleaching in 2016 destroyed thousands of square kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Hawaii became the first U.S. state to put curbs on the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can cause coral bleaching.

Causes of Coral Bleaching?

  • Rise in Sea Temperature: Most coral species live in waters close to the warmest temperature they can tolerate i.e., a slight increase in ocean temperature can harm corals. El Nino elevates the sea temperature and destroys coral reefs.
  • Ocean Acidification: Due to rise in carbon dioxide levels, oceans absorb more carbon dioxide. This increases the acidity of ocean water and inhibits the corals ability to create calcareous skeletons, which is essential for their survival.
  • Solar radiation and ultraviolet radiation: Changes in tropical weather patterns result in less cloud cover and more radiations which induce coral bleaching.
  • Infectious Diseases: Penetration of bacterium like vibrio shiloi inhibits photosynthesis of zooxanthellae. These bacteria become more potent with elevated sea temperatures.
  • Chemical Pollution: Increased nutrient concentrations affect corals by promoting phytoplankton growth, which in turn supports increased numbers of organisms that compete with coral for space.
  • Increased Sedimentation: Land clearing and coastal construction result in high rates of erosion and a higher density of suspended silt particles which can
    1. smother corals when particles settle out (sedimentation),
    2. reducing light availability (turbidity) and
    3. potentially reducing coral photosynthesis and growth.
  • Human Induced Threats: Over-fishing, pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff, coral mining, development of industrial areas near coral ecosystems also adversely impact corals.

Consequences

  • Changes in coral communities can affect the species that depend on them, such as the fish and invertebrates that rely on live coral for food, shelter. Loss of such marine animals can disturb the entire food chain.
  • Declines in genetic and species diversity may occur when corals die as a result of bleaching.
  • Healthy coral reefs attract divers and other tourists. Bleached and degraded reefs can discourage tourism, which can affect the local economy.
  • Coral bleaching can cause large shifts in fish communities. This can translate into reduced catches for fishers, which in turn impacts food supply and associated economic activities.
  • Coral reefs protect coastlines by absorbing constant wave energy from the ocean, thereby protecting people living near the coast from increased storm damage, erosion and flooding.

Efforts to save Coral reefs and other programmes

  • Coral Rehab Programme, 2002 implemented by Gulf of Mannar Marine NP: To recover coral reefs. It has recovered 8 sq. km area in GoM region, where coral reefs suffered bleaching and degradation due to climate change and high temperature.
  • Australia has started a campaign to save great barrier reef from coral eating crown of thorns star fish. 2 reasons: Agriculture runoff & pollution. Thus money will be spent as an incentive to farmers to reduce runoffs and vessels & divers targeting that fish.
  • STAPCOR 2018: International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs held at Bangaram coral Island of Lakshadweep. Theme: Reef for Life. 1st international year of Reef in 1997. Lakshdweep to establish International Atoll research center.
  • Kelps and coral reefs are composed of algae that grow in the shallow parts of the ocean in warm and sunny waters. However, kelp forest grows in nutrient-rich waters while corals can develop in low nutrient waters.
  • A bid to restore Coral reefs in Gulf of Kutch using Biorocks or Mineral Accretion technology
    1. Kurumbar, Neora and Bhaidar Island of Kutch has Coral reefs.
    2. Biorock is the substance formed by electro accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater on steel stuctures that are lowered onto the sea bed and are connected to a power source. Biorock is kept within HTL - LTL of 8 m to 4 m respectively..
    3. When anode (positive) and cathode (negative) are placed on seafloor and current is flowing, Calcium ions combine with Carbonate ions to form Calcium Carbonate.
    4. In 2015, the same group restored bleaching coral species (staghorn corals) belonging to family Acroporidae that had gone extinct about 10000 years ago.

What is the news?

  • As a fabled wonder of the natural world, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and its diversity of marine life ranging from corals to whales found a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1981.
  • Made up of a couple of thousand individual reefs off the continent’s northeastern coast, it has a geological history going back an estimated 23 million years to the Miocene epoch, and has survived many challenges.
  • The GBR is about 2,300 km long and extends across a breathtaking 346,000 sq. km. area, hosting an assemblage of fishes and invertebrates in the reefs, dugongs, green turtles and other species in seagrass meadows, and sharks, rays, anemones, sponges, worms and myriad other forms all of which need a delicate ecological balance to thrive.
  • Idyllic as it appears, the reef system faces severe environmental threats, and this year, the World Heritage Committee has sounded a warning by drawing up a resolution to inscribe the reef on the 'List of World Heritage in Danger'.
  • The Committee took note of the 2019 Outlook Report of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which says in no uncertain terms that the long-term state of the ecosystem has further deteriorated from poor to very poor.
  • At the heart of the crisis is climate change, which has led to three big events of coral bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020. UNESCO’s move to list the GBR as ‘in danger’ brings pressure on Australia’s government to review its record on responding to climate change.
  • As a continent that has recorded a rise in its average temperature by 1.4 degrees C since 1910, the devastating fires of 2019-20 were another wake-up call on climate change aggravating extreme events.
  • The World Heritage Committee resolution calls upon Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government to heed the conclusions of the Outlook Report, particularly on accelerated action needed to address climate change with the Paris Agreement goals in focus.
  • The updated Reef 2050 Plan that the country is pursuing for conservation should incorporate this.
  • Further, the government should stop destructive impacts of human activity such as land-based and farm run-off that has polluted waters, coastal development and other commercial uses, it adds.
  • The World Heritage Centre, the administrative body, had sent a letter to Australia in 2019 raising concerns “about the approval of the Carmichael Coal Mine”, a controversial project with impacts for the reef and the climate, to which it got a response noting “that the project’s approval is subject to over 180 regulatory conditions and that compliance with these conditions will be monitored.”
  • The Outlook Report records harm to “the abundance and health of many species groups, including corals, invertebrates, some bony fishes, marine turtles and seabirds” from the rising sea temperatures and thermal extremes due to global warming.
  • It adds that since 2014, there has been widespread and significant declines in many coral species. In 2018, coral larvae declined by 89% averaged across the region, arising from consecutive bleaching events, as the adult broodstock was reduced.
  • Warmer temperatures led to “feminisation of green turtles originating from nesting beaches in the northern Region, potentially leading to significant scarcity or absence of adult males in the future”. Coral growth is also endangered by the proliferation of crown-of-thorns starfish, which consumes them.
  • Some relief is available from the reported recovery of humpback whales, and slow gain in southern populations of green turtles. Urban coastal dugong populations also show an improved breeding rate. But overall, the reef is under threat.
  • A magnet for eco-tourists, the vast expanse coloured by algal hues draws thousands annually. The report says that in 2015-16, tourism, fishing, recreational uses and scientific activities contributed an estimated $6.4 billion to the Australian economy, a rise of about 14% since 2011-12. Without resolute action on climate and pollution threats, though, all sectors stand to lose.

Source: TH

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27 June,2021
U.P. anti-conversion law 2020

Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance-Uttar pradesh UPSC GS-PAPER-2 GOVERNANCE – Article -21 & 25 related issue Context: Highly important to study secularism. UP Government initiated the war against LOVE JIHAD which many groups of people considered the dilution of fund

Delta Plus variant of COVID-19

Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 What is the Delta variant? How is it different from the Delta Plus variant? Why has it become a global concern? A mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.617.2 is now named the Delta variant. It has mutations in its spike protein, which makes it more transmissible a

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) It was started in 10th five year plan in 2005. It works under Ministry of Ministry of Rural Development. Funding: Centrally Sponsored with the pattern 90:10. Providing provides a legal guarantee 

Do insects migrate? Which insect has the longest migration route?

Do insects migrate? Which insect has the longest migration route? Many dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, locusts and moths are known to migrate during the breeding season and the distance travelled varies with species. Most insects travel in large groups and scientists have been studying thes

Antimicrobial resistance in India

Antimicrobial resistance in India What is Antimicrobial resistance? Antimicrobial resistance (AMR or AR) is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe. In other words, Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a micr

India’s export of organic food products and National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP)

India’s export of organic food products India’s export of organic food products rose by more than 51% to Rs 7078 crore ($ 1040 million) during April-February (2020-21) compared to the same period in the previous fiscal (2019-20). In terms of quantity, the exports of organic food

26 June,2021
Pakistan to remain on FATF greylist

Pakistan to remain on FATF greylist Pakistan was retained on the greylist, or the list of countries under “increased monitoring”, by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as the Paris-based UN watchdog judged it deficient in prosecuting the top leadership of UN Security Council-d

Rajasthan gets genome sequencing laboratory

Rajasthan gets genome sequencing laboratory The facility for genome sequencing to identify new variants of SARS-CoV-2 has been started at Sawai Man Singh Government Medical College here, making Rajasthan the first State in the country to have such a provision for complete sequencing at the Sta

U.P. ranked best under Smart Cities Mission

U.P. ranked best under Smart Cities Mission Uttar Pradesh was ranked the best State, and Indore and Surat were jointly named the best cities by the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry for their work under the Smart Cities Mission. Ministry announced that Uttar Pradesh had been ranked one, Mad

Tibet gets first bullet train, links Lhasa to India border

Tibet gets first bullet train, links Lhasa to India border China started operating the first bullet train line in Tibet, linking Lhasa to Nyingchi near the border with Arunachal Pradesh. The China State Railway Group said the 435-km line, on which construction began in 2014, has a designed s

India’s ILO Chairpersonship comes to an end

India’s ILO Chairpersonship comes to an end India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization after a gap of 35 years. During India’s Chairmanship, the sessions of the Governing Body held in October 2020 and March 2021 and the 109th se

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