Environment Current Affairs - 2020

Latest Environment Current Affairs 2019 for UPSC Exams, Bank Exams, Civil Services, SSC and other Competitive Exams. Latest developments in Environment and Climate Change 2019 all important national updates in Environment events for the year 2019.

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Key Facts: Deep Carbon Observatory

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a global research program to outreach carbons role on Earth. It is a community of scientists including physicists, biologists, geo – scientists and chemists working across several traditional disciplinary lines.

Key highlights of DCO research

  • It has found that there are ultra – deep diamonds at 670 km depth in the mantle. It has signatures of geochemical signature of organic material from Earth’s surface.
  • There may be significant amounts of iron carbide in the Earth’s core that accounts to two – thirds of Earth’s carbon
  • It has identified abiogenic sources of methane from crust and mantle. Abiogenesis is a hypothetical theory which proposes that fossil fuels are formed from inorganic matter rather than by decomposition of organisms or organic matter.
  • The complex links between biosphere and geosphere and their evolution. The links are reflected in major events like Great Oxidation Event
    • Great Oxidation Event – Around 2.4 billion years ago, biologically induced molecular oxygen accumulated in the Earth’s atmosphere. This changed the atmosphere to an oxidizing atmosphere from a weak reducing atmosphere. The even caused almost all lives on the Earth to go extinct. Scientists are still unable to determine causes of the event.
  • The Volcanic flux of carbon – dioxide is twice as that of previously determined.

DCO Explorations

The DCO explores

  • High pressure and Extreme temperature organic synthesis
  • Complex interactions between organic molecules and minerals
  • Conducts field observations of deep microbial eco systems
  • Constructs theoretical models of lower crust and upper mantle carbon sources
  • Conducts observations of anomalies in petroleum geochemistry

Reservoir and Flux community of DCO

The subduction of tectonic plates and volcanic outgassing are the main sources of carbon fluxes. But the process and rates of these carbon fluxes are poorly understood. The main function of the Reservoir and Flux community of DCO is to explore the storage and transport of carbon in the deep interior of the Earth.

The Deep Earth Carbon Degassing Project of DCO is examining if large reservoirs of carbon are hidden in the mantle and core. It also works on finding how this carbon outgasses from the Earth’s deep interior into the surface environment.

Deep Energy wing of DCO

It quantifies the processes and environmental conditions that control origins, forms, quantities and movements of carbon compounds. This community of DCO predominantly works around carbon compounds that were reduced from deep carbon compounds through geologic time.

It conducts investigations in 25 global terrestrial and marine environment to determine the processes controlling movements of abiotic gases and their origin, form, quantities. It also discriminates abiotic and biotic methane gas and organic species.

The Deep Energy community also quantifies the rates of fluid rock interactions that produce abiotic hydrogen.

Deep life wing of DCO

It documents the interaction between the carbon cycle and diversity of Earth’s deep biosphere. It marks the diversity of subsurface marine and continental microorganisms in space and time and their interaction with the deep carbon.

The wing conducts Census of Deep life annually. This census identifies the diversity and distribution of microbial life in continental and marine deep subsurface environments.

According to the 2018 census by the Deep life wing of DCO, life forms on the earth including 70% of bacteria comprises up to 23 billion tons of carbon. They live up to 4.8 km deep underground including 2.5 km below the seabed.

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Ganges Dolphin census begins

The annual Ganges river Dolphin census is conducted by the World Wide Fund in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. The census is undertaken along the 250 km stretch of Upper Ganga between the Hastinapur Wild life sanctuary and Narora Ramsar site

This year tandem boat survey method is being used. Previous years, direct counting was done. This is because, the tandem boat survey method is more accurate where in the officials use two boats that move in tandem to count the dolphins. Also, this year the upstream of Bijnor Ganga Barrage has also been included.

In 2015, the count was 22 and has so far remained stable. As the animal is a mammal, it certainly has to come to the surface for breathing that helps the census to count. They are also spotted by their strange sounds when they breathe. They are also identified by detecting their high – frequency ultra sound waves.

The National Aquatic animal is important as it is a reliable indicator of the health of the river ecosystem.

About Ganges Dolphins

The Ganges Dolphins are one of the oldest creatures as that of crocodiles, sharks and turtles. They were first discovered in 1801. During its early days of discovery, the species lived in the Ganges – Brahmaputra – Meghna and Karnaphuli – Sangu river systems in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. However, it is extinct from most of its distribution ranges.

These dolphins can live only in freshwater. They hunt by emitting ultrasonic sounds. The rays bounce off fish and other prey that enables them to see an image in their mind. They dwell alone and also in groups. But the mother and calf always travel together. Female dolphins are larger than the males and they give birth once in 2 to 3 years.

It was declared the National Aquatic animal in 2009.

Threats to Dolphins

By catch

The habitat of the Ganges river dolphins is within the most densely populated areas of the world. Both fishermen and the dolphins prefer areas of the river where the fish is plentiful and the river current is slower. Hence, more dolphins die as they accidentally get caught in the fishing nets. They are also hunted for meat and oil to be used in medicinal purposes.

Pollution

Every year 9,000 tons of pesticides and 6 million tons of fertilizers are used in the vicinity of the river. River Dolphins are the top predators in the Ganges ecosystem. Hence, they tend to have high levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies that affects their health adversely.

IUCN

The Ganges River Dolphins are placed under “Endangered Category” in the IUCN Red List.

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