Environment Current Affairs 2017

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Australia clears plan to protect Murray-Darling Basin

Australia approved a plan aimed at saving vital Murray-Darling Basin river water sytem.

About Murray-Darling Basin:

The Murray–Darling Basin is a river network sprawling for one million square kilometres (400,000 square miles) across five Australian states (New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland South Australia) in the interior of south-eastern Australia. The two main rivers in this basin are the Murray River and the Darling River.

How it is important to Australia?

  • The basin drains around 1/7th of the Australian land mass, and is one of the most important agricultural areas in Australia.

What are the dangers faced by the basin?

The major threat to the basin is overexploitation and draught which has caused increase in concentration of salt and depletion of water.

What is the Plan?

As per the plan:

  • Around 2,750 gigalitres of water will be returned annually as environmental flows to the system.
  • 2 million tonnes of salt will also be flushed out each year.

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Scientists: Greenland losing 200 million tonnes ice every year

Using satellite data, Scientists confirmed via Glacier-covered Greenland has had an average net loss of 200 billion tons of ice every year since 2003.

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) which can detect mass changes on the surface of the Earth over time. GRACE does this by detecting subtle increases and decreases in gravity, which is directly related to the mass below the two orbiting GRACE satellites.

Roughly, 200 million tonnes of ice is the amount needed to fill enough railroad coal cars to encircle the Earth.

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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WMO: Greenhouse Gases Level Reached Record High in 2011

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, WMO held that that the atmospheric volume of the greenhouse gases, which are often blamed for the change in atmosphere, reached a record high in 2011.

  • As per the survey, the volume of carbon dioxide, the prime greenhouse gas grew at almost identical rate in previous 10 years (i.e. at an average by 2 ppm) and it touched 390.9 parts per million (ppm) or 40% above the pre-industrial level.
  • The level of methane has also risen rapidly in the past 3 years.
  • The Volume of Nitrous Oxide another greenhouse gas also increased in 2011. Nitrous Oxide has a long-term climatic impact which is 298 times larger than carbon dioxide.

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