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Sea ice hits record winter low at both poles: Scientists

According to US and European scientists, the extent of sea ice at both poles has hit new record lows for this time of the year.

The disappearing sea ice comes as the Earth marks three consecutive years of record-breaking heat and temperature rise, raising fresh concerns about the accelerating pace of global warming. 

Key Findings 
  • Artic region: The ice floating in the Arctic Ocean grows and shrinks on a seasonal cycle every year, reaching its largest size in March and smallest at the end of the summer melt in September.
  • But this year’s Arctic maximum spanned 14.42 million sq.km i.e. 95,829 sq.km below the previous record low in 2015. This year’s ice cover is 12,19,884 sq.km smaller compared to average sea ice extent for 1981-2010.
  • The Arctic sea ice maximum has dropped by an average of 2.8% per decade since 1979. There was a lot of open ocean water and very slow ice growth because the water had a lot of accumulated.
  • Antartic region: The ice in the Antarctic also follows a seasonal cycle but its maximum comes in September and its minimum around February (summer in Southern Hemisphere).
  • In the Antarctic, this year’s annual sea ice was 21,10,840 sq.km, about 1,83,889 sq.km below the previous lowest minimum extent in the satellite record, which occurred in 1997.
  • For the past two years, Antarctica saw record high sea ice extents and decades of moderate sea ice growth.

Ice level

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IMD predicts above normal temperature in 2017 summer

India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted above normal temperature in most parts of the country during 2017 summer season. The predictions were given by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune.

The maximum temperatures in March to May 2017 are likely to be warmer by more than 1°C in north, northwest and parts of central India. In other parts, maximum temperature will be between 0.5 to 1°C more than the normal.

Key Facts
  • Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Telangana will see warmer temperatures along with hill states J&K and Himachal Pradesh.
  • The warmer summer forecast is in line with a generally warmer trend over previous months as the year 2016 was the warmest year in a century.
  • The forecast shows a 47% probability of summer temperatures being above normal. It also mentions that there will increase in the frequency and duration of heat waves across the country.
  • Minimum temperature in the season will also be higher by over a degree celcius in northern plains along with northwest India.
  • Peninsular, northeastern and west central parts of the country will also experience minimum temperatures higher by 0.5°C to 1°C than normal.
  • The rise in temperature can be attributed to increasing trends in the greenhouse gases and the warming of the sea surface temperatures over the equatorial Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to be in a neutral condition during summer months, thus unlikely to influence the temperatures in India.

About India Meteorological Department (IMD)

  • IMD also referred to as the Met Department is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology in India.
  • It functions under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It headquartered in New Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India.

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Union Cabinet approves India’s negotiating position adopted at Kigali conference to Montreal Protocol

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the negotiating position adopted by India at the recent 28th Meeting of Parties (MoP) to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda.

The negotiations at Kigali meet held in October 2016 were aimed at including HFCs in the list of chemicals under the Montreal Protocol.

The Union Cabinet has approved baseline and freeze years proposal of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest (MoEFCC) over the issue of phasing down the climate-damaging refrigerants hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as negotiated in Kigali meet.

Key Facts

  • In the Kigali meet, India had successfully negotiated the baseline years within a range of 2024 to 2030 and freeze year in subsequent years for phasing down the use of HFCs.
  • It had two set of baselines years were agreed for developing countries. India along with nine other countries will have baseline years of 2024, 2025, 2026.
  • India will completely phase down of HFCs in 4 steps from 2032 onwards with cumulative reduction of 10% in 2032, 20% in 2037, 30% in 2042 and 85% in 2047
  • It also gives additional HCFC allowance of 65% that will be added to the Indian baseline consumption and production.
  • Other developing countries including China (largest producer of HFCs in the world), South Africa and Brazil opted for 2020-22 baseline.
  • The developed countries on the other will hand reduce use of HFCs over a 2011-13 baseline and will reduce production and consumption of HFCs by 70% in 2029.
  • The freeze year for India will be 2028 and it will be with a condition that there will be a technology review in 2024/2025.
  • India’s position was mainly aimed at allowing sufficient room for growth of its domestic sectors using refrigerants.

Background

  • The Montreal Protocol of the Vienna Convention for Protection of Ozone Layer which entered force in January 1989 aimed to phase out the ozone depleting substances (ODS).
  • At Kigali, it was decide to include HFCs in the list of chemicals under the Montreal Protocol in order to regulate their production, consumption and phasing them out with time.
  • It also added mechanism to provide financial assistance from the Multilateral Fund created under the Montreal Protocol.
  • Under it, funding for R&D and servicing sector in developing countries also was included in the agreed solutions on finance.
  • Kigali amendments to the Montreal Protocol also for the first time will incentivise improvement in energy efficiency in case of use of new refrigerant and technology.
  • Note: HFCs are not ODS but potent global warming substances and controlling them can contribute substantially to limit global temperature and advance actions for addressing climate change.

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