February 2021: Current Affairs Environment & Ecology UPSC Notes | EduRev

Environment & Additional Topics for UPSC CSE

UPSC : February 2021: Current Affairs Environment & Ecology UPSC Notes | EduRev

The document February 2021: Current Affairs Environment & Ecology UPSC Notes | EduRev is a part of the UPSC Course Environment & Additional Topics for UPSC CSE.
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National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

A Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) is suspected of having caused the flash floods in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district.

  • In October 2020, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had issued detailed guidelines on how to reduce and deal with disasters caused by GLOFs/Glacial Bursts.
  • The NDMA guidelines suggest that risk reduction can be done by identifying and mapping potentially dangerous lakes, taking structural measures to prevent their sudden breach, and establishing mechanisms to save lives and property in times of a breach.

Key Points

➤ Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF): 

  1. Meaning:
    • A GLOF refers to the flooding that occurs when the water dammed by a glacier or a moraine (accumulations of dirt and rocks fallen onto the glacier surface) is released suddenly.
    • When glaciers melt, the water in glacial lakes accumulates behind loose, natural “glacial/ moraine dams" made of ice, sand, pebbles and ice residue.
    • Unlike earthen dams, the weak structure of the moraine dam leads to the abrupt breach of the dam on top of the glacial lake which could cause flash floods in the downstream areas.
  2. Causes:
    • According to NDMA, glacial retreat due to climate change occurring in most parts of the Hindu Kush Himalaya has given rise to the formation of numerous new glacial lakes, which are the major cause of GLOFs.

Glacial Lakes: 

  1. About:
    • Glacial lakes are typically formed at the foot of a glacier.
    • As glaciers move and flow, they erode the soil and sediment around them, leaving depressions and grooves on the land. Meltwater from the glacier fills up the hole, making a lake. 
  2. Types:
    • Lakes form when meltwater ponds, and this can happen on the ice surface (supraglacial lakes), in front of the ice (proglacial lakes), or even underneath the ice (subglacial lakes).
  3. Impact:
    • Glacier lakes can affect ice flow by reducing friction at the ice-bed interface, encouraging basal sliding.
    • They can change the ice surface's albedo, encouraging more surface melt.
    • Proglacial lakes cause calving, affecting mass balance and decoupling mountain glaciers from climate.
    • Glacier lakes can be hazardous; moraine and ice dams can fail, causing catastrophic glacier lake outburst floods or jokulhlaups.

➤ Increase in Number of Glacial Lakes:

  1. According to recent studies, there has been a rapid increase in the number of glacial lakes due to a retreat in the glaciers caused by warming temperatures (due to global warming) and their potential to cause large-scale flooding destruction.
    • The Kedarnath tragedy in 2013, for example, had involved a breach in a large glacial lake.
  2. According to a study sponsored by the Central Water Commission (CWC), conducted during 2011-15, there are 352, 283 and 1,393 glacial lakes and water bodies in the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra basins respectively.

Guidelines on Risk Reduction:

  1. Identifying Potentially Dangerous Lakes:
    • Potentially dangerous lakes can be identified based on field observations, records of past events, geomorphologic and geotechnical characteristics of the lake/dam and surroundings, and other physical conditions.
  2. Use of Technology:
    • Promoting Synthetic-Aperture Radar imagery (a form of radar used to create two-dimensional images) automatically detect changes in water bodies, including new lake formations, during the monsoon months.
    • Methods and protocols could also be developed to remotely monitor lake bodies from space.
  3. Channeling Potential Floods:
    • To manage lakes structurally, the NDMA recommends reducing the volume of water with methods such as controlled breaching, pumping or siphoning out water, and making a tunnel through the moraine barrier or under an ice dam.
  4. Uniform Codes for Construction Activity:
    • Developing a broad framework for infrastructure development, construction and excavation in vulnerable zones.
    • There is a need to accept procedures for land use planning in the GLOF prone areas.
  5. Enhancing Early Warning Systems (EWS):
    • The number of implemented and operational GLOF EWS is very small, even at the global scale.
    • In the Himalayan region, there are three reported instances (two in Nepal and one in China) of implementation of sensor- and monitoring-based technical systems for GLOF early warning.
  6. Training Local Manpower:
    • Apart from pressing specialised forces such as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), ITBP and the Army, NDMA has emphasised the need for trained local manpower.
    • It has been observed that the local community carries out over 80% of search and rescue before the intervention of the state machinery and specialised search and rescue teams.
    • The local teams could also assist in planning and setting up emergency shelters, distributing relief packages, identifying missing people, and addressing the needs for food, healthcare, water supply etc.
  7. Comprehensive Alarm Systems:
    • Besides classical alarming infrastructure consisting of acoustic alarms by sirens, modern communication technology using cell and smartphones can complement or even replace traditional alarming infrastructure.


Uttarakhand Flash Flood

A glacial break in Uttarakhand's Chamoli District recently triggered a major Flash Flood in the Dhauli Ganga and Alaknanda Rivers, causing damage to houses and the nearby Rishiganga power plant.

In June 2013, flash floods in Uttarakhand wiped out settlements and took lives.

Key Points

Cause of Flash Flood in Uttarakhand:

  • It occurred in the river Rishi Ganga due to the falling of a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier in the river which exponentially increased water volume.
  • Rishiganga meets Dhauli Ganga near Raini. So Dhauli Ganga also got flooded.

➤ Major Power Projects Affected:

Rishi Ganga Power Project:

  • It is a privately owned 130MW project.
  • Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Project on the Dhauliganga:
  • It was a 520 MW run-of-river hydroelectric project being constructed on Dhauliganga River.
  • Several other projects on the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins in northwestern Uttarakhand have also been impacted by the flood.

Flash Floods: 

  1. About:
    • These are sudden surges in water levels generally during or following an intense spell of rain.
    • These are highly localised events of short duration with a very high peak and usually have less than six hours between the occurrence of the rainfall and peak flood.
    • The flood situation worsens in choked drainage lines or encroachments obstructing the natural flow of water.
  2. Causes:
    • It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or meltwater from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields.
    • Flash Floods can also occur due to Dam or Levee Breaks, and/or Mudslides (Debris Flow).
    • In areas on or near volcanoes, flash floods have also occurred after eruptions, when the intense heat has melted glaciers.
    • The intensity of the rainfall, the location and distribution of the rainfall, the land use and topography, vegetation types and growth/ density, soil type, and soil water- content all determine just how quickly the Flash Flooding may occur, and influence where it may occur.

Glaciers

About:

  • Glaciers are a bulk of ice moving under its weight. It forms in areas where snow's amassing goes beyond its ablation over many years. 
  • They are generally seen in the snow-fields. 
  • This largest freshwater basin covers around 10% of the Earth's land surface.
  • According to the topography and the glacier location, it can be categorized as Mountain Glacier (Alpine Glaciers) or Continental Glacier (Ice Sheets).
  • The Continental Glacier moves outward in all directions whereas the Mountain Glacier moves from a higher to a lower altitude.

Glaciers and Floods: 

  1. Glacial Lakes:
    • Retreating glaciers, like several in the Himalayas, usually result in the formation of lakes at their tips, called proglacial lakes, often bound only by sediments and boulders.
  2. Flood:
    • If these lakes' boundaries are breached, it can lead to large amounts of water rushing down to nearby streams and rivers, gathering momentum on the way by picking up sediments, rocks and other material, and resulting in flooding downstream.

Impact of Climate Change:

  • Climate change has driven erratic weather patterns like increased snowfall and rainfall, warmer winters has led to the melting of a lot of snow. 
  • According to the latest assessment reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, glacier retreat and permafrost thaw are projected to decrease mountain slopes' stability and increase the number and area of glacier lakes.

Dhauliganga

➤ Origination:

It originates from Vasudhara Tal, perhaps the largest glacial lake in Uttarakhand.

About:

  • Dhauliganga is one of the important tributaries of Alaknanda, the other being the Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini and Bhagirathi.
  • Dhauliganga is joined by the Rishiganga river at Raini.
  • It merges with the Alaknanda at Vishnuprayag.
  • There it loses its identity and the Alaknanda flows southwest through Chamoli, Maithana, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag until it meets the Mandakini river, coming from the north at Rudraprayag.
  • After subsuming Mandakini, the Alaknanda carries on past Srinagar, before joining the Ganga at Devprayag near.
  • Alaknanda then disappears, and the mighty Ganga carries on its journey, first flowing south then west through important pilgrimage centres such as Rishikesh and finally descending into the Indo-Gangetic plains at Haridwar.

Nanda Devi National Park

Location:

It is situated arou­nd the peak of Nanda Devi (7816 m) in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India.

About:

The park encompasses the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, a glacial basin surrounded by a ring of peaks, and drained by the Rishi Ganga through the Rishi Ganga Gorge.

Established:

  • The Park was established as Sanjay Gandhi National Park by Notification in 1982 but was later renamed Nanda Devi National Park.
  • It was inscribed a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1988.

Flora:

Some 312 floral species that include 17 rare species have been found here. Fir, birch, rhododendron, and juniper are the main flora.

Fauna:

Himalayan black bear, Snow leopard, Himalayan Musk Deer etc.


World Sustainable Development Summit 2021

The World Sustainable Development Summit recently held the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

  • The theme of the 2021 Summit was 'Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all.
  • TERI is a non-profit research institute established in 1974. It conducts research work in energy, environment and sustainable development for India and the Global South.

Key Points

India's Stand at the Event:

  1. Emphasis on Climate Justice:
    • "Climate justice" is a term, and more than that, a movement that acknowledges climate change can have differing social, economic, public health, and other adverse impacts on underprivileged populations.
    • As per India, 'climate justice' is inspired by a vision of trusteeship - where growth comes with greater compassion to the poorest. It also means giving developing countries enough space to grow.
  2. Reassurance to Climate Mitigation Efforts:
    • India reassured commitments to its targets under the Paris deal to reduce GDP's emissions intensity by 33 to 35 per cent from 2005 levels.
    • India's steady progress on its commitment to Land Degradation Neutrality and setting up 450 gigawatts of Renewable Energy generating capacity till 2030 was also highlighted.
    • Initiatives of India under the International Solar Alliance were also discussed.
  3. Commitment to Enhancing Disaster Resilience:
    • To enhance India's disaster management capa­bilities, commitments to Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) were assured. 
    • CDRI: A multi-stakeholder global partnership of country governments, UN agencies, multilateral banks, private sector and knowledge institutions that aims to build resilience into infrastructure systems to ensure sustainable development.

India's Efforts Towards Sustainable Development: 

  • In March 2019, India achieved nearly 100% electrification through sustainable technologies and innovative models.
  • Through the Ujala Programme, 367 million LED bulbs were distributed, reducing over 38 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. 
  • Through the PM Ujjwala Yojna, more than 80 million households below the poverty line have access to clean cooking fuel. India is working to increase the share of natural gas in India's energy basket from 6% to 15%.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission has connected over 34 million households with tap connections in 18 months. 
  • Through conservation efforts, the population of lions, tigers, leopards and Gangetic river dolphins has gone up.

The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change highlights the health advantages of countries implementing climate plans – Nationally Defined Commitments (NDCs) – that are aligned with the Paris Agreement target of keeping warming "far below 2°C."

  • The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, published annually, is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration dedicated to monitoring the evolving health profile of climate change and providing an independent assessment of the delivery of commitments made by governments worldwide under the Paris Agreement.
  • The countries considered in the modelling study represent 50% of the world'sworld's population and 70% of the world's emissions - Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, the UK and the US.

Key Points

Findings of the Study:

  • It looked at three scenarios: carrying on the current path, increasing efforts to achieve the Paris goals, and a more ambitious scenario, which put health at the heart of tackling climate change.
  • Placing health as a key focus of the NDCs could present an opportunity to increase ambition and realise health co-benefits.
  • Millions of lives could be saved annually by 2040, meeting Paris Agreement targets.
  • Adopting policies consistent with achieving the Paris Agreement and prioritising health could save 6.4 million lives due to better diet, 1.6 million lives due to cleaner air, and 2.1 million lives due to increased exercise per year across nine countries.
  • If India can adhere to its commitments, then the study indicates it would save 4.3 lakh lives due to cleaner air and 17.41 lakh lives due to a better diet.

Paris Agreement: 

  1. About:
    • It is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement, adopted at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in Dec 2015.
  2. Objective:
    • To keep global temperatures "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (C) compared to pre-industrial times and "seek to limit" even more, to 1.5 degrees C.
  3. Long Term Goal:
    • A long-term global goal for net-zero emissions. Countries have promised to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible.
    • More significantly, they pledged "to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century".
  4. Mechanism:
    • Before the conference started, more than 180 countries had submitted pledges to cut or curb their carbon emissions through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
    • The INDCs were recognized under the agreement, but are not legally binding.
  5. Funding:
    • It stipulates that developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties concerning both mitigation and adaptation. Other Parties are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily.

Issues in Achieving the Pledged Targets:

  1. Slow Implementation:
    • Most of the nations have been slow to update their national contributions for reducing emissions for 2025-2030, however, several have announced net zero emission targets in the recent past.
  2. Credibility:
    • The plans and policies of nations are not credible enough to meet the long term net-zero targets as:
      (i) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 degrees Celsius Report indicated that to stay within a reasonable chance of achieving 1.5 degrees C, global CO2 emissions have to fall by 45% from the 2010 levels by 2030 but current national contributions are not on track for such a fall.
      (ii)
      The withdrawal of the USA in 2020 from the Paris deal undermines the Paris Agreement's universality and impairs states' confidence in climate cooperation. However, the USA has recently started the process of rejoining the Deal.
  3. Accountability:
    • There is limited or no accountability for the long-term net-zero goals and short-term national contributions.
    • The transparency framework does not contain a robust review function, and the compliance committee is facilitative and limited to ensuring compliance with a shortlist of binding procedural obligations.
  4. Fairness:
    • Issues of fairness and justice, both between and within generations, are unavoidable.
    • There is no mechanism to check whether the net-zero targets and pathways to net-zero are fair or how much are states doing compared to others and how much they should emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible.
    • More significantly, they pledged "to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century".

India's Scenario

India's Current Emissions:

  • According to a United Nations Report, India's per capita emissions are 60% lower than the global average.
  • The emissions in the country grew 1.4% in 2019, much lower than its average of 3.3% per year over the last decade.

India's INDC, to be achieved primarily, by 2030:

  • To reduce the emissions intensity of the GDP by about a third.
  • A total of 40% of the installed capacity for electricity will be from non-fossil fuel sources.
  • India also promised an additional carbon sink (a means to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through other forest and tree cover by 2030.

Measures taken by India to Control Emissions:

  • Bharat Stage (BS) VI Norms: These are emission control standards by the government to keep a check on air pollution.
  • National Solar Mission: It is a major initiative of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India's energy security challenge.
  • National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy 2018: The policy's main objective is to provide a framework for the promotion of large grid-connected wind-solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid systems for optimal and efficient utilization of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure and land.

Mission Innovation 2.0

The Union Minister of Science & Technology addressed the Mission Innovation (MI) to mark phase-2 of the Mission or Mission Innovation 2.0.

India played a leadership role in MI Steering Committee and is a member of the Analysis and Joint Research and Business & Investor Engagement sub-groups.

Key Points

Mission Innovation: 

  1. Formation:
    • Mission Innovation was announced on 30th November 2015, on the Paris Climate Agreement's sidelines to undertake ambitious measures to combat climate change.
  2. Membership:
    • It is a global initiative of 24 countries and the European Union to accelerate global clean energy innovation.
  3. Principle:
    • Commitment by all members to seek to double their clean energy innovation investments over five years in selected priority areas.
    • Each member, according to its priorities, policies, processes, and laws, independently determines the best use of its funding and defines its own Research & Development priorities and the path to reach the doubling goal.
    • In many cases, MI members prioritise parts of their whole energy innovation budget within their baseline.
  4. Objectives:
    • Enhance the public sector investment to a substantial level.
    • Increased private sector engagement and investment.
    • Increase international collaboration.
    • Raising awareness of the transformational potential of innovation.
  5. Innovation Challenges (IC):
    • Innovation challenges are a significant part of the mission innovation aimed at leveraging research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) in technology areas that could ultimately result in effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security, and creating new opportunities for clean economic growth.
    • There are 8 innovation challenges under the mission innovation.
      IC1 - intelligent grids, IC2 - Off-grid access to electricity, IC3 - Carbon capture, IC4 - Sustainable biofuels, IC5 - Converting sunlight, IC6 - Clean energy materials, IC7 - Affordable cooling and heating of buildings, IC8 - Renewable and clean hydrogen.
    • The first phase has shown that work done under ICs have mobilized in a relatively short period, relying on members' leadership and voluntary efforts to advance IC objectives.
    • These resources have dramatically accelerated the availability of advanced technologies that will define a future global energy mix that is clean, affordable, and reliable.

Mission Innovation 2.0:

  1. To achieve the shared goal of accelerating innovation, all the members have agreed to develop a second phase (2.0) that includes:
  2. An enhanced Innovation Platform is building on current activities to strengthen the global clean energy innovation ecosystem and accelerate learning.
  3. New public-private innovation alliances
  4. Missions - built around ambitious and inspirational goals backed by voluntary commitments that can lead to tipping points in the cost, scale, availability, and attractiveness of clean energy solutions.

Indian Initiatives Aligned with the Mission:

  1. Clean Energy International Incubation Centre:
    • To support the start-up innovation ecosystem, the Clean Energy International Incubation Centre established by the Department of Biotechnology, India under a Public-Private Partnership model has played a crucial role.
    • Increased Solar Capacity:
    • India has increased solar installed capacity by 13 times and expanded its non-fossil fuel-based power generation to 134 Gigawatts, about 35% of total power generation.
    • The National Solar Mission (a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change) helped India to increase its solar capacity.
    • India has embarked on an ambitious target of having 450 Gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030.
  2. Biofuels:
    • India is also working to considerably increase the proportion of the biofuel blend in petrol and diesel:
      (i) Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP): It aims at blending ethanol with petrol, thereby bringing it under the category of biofuels and saving millions of dollars by cutting fuel imports.
      (ii) The 2018 Biofuel Policy aims to reach 20% ethanol-blending and 5% biodiesel-blending by the year 2030.

• Five Centres of excellence in Bioenergy supported by the Department of Biotechnology in India are fundamental and translational research for advanced biofuels like biobutanol, biohydrogen and biojet fuels.

Ujjwala Yojana:

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), which is the world's most extensive clean cooking fuel programme, was launched in 2016 and implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas its Oil Marketing Companies.
  • Through PMUY, initially, 5 crores below poverty line (BPL) households were targeted for providing deposit free LPG connections to BPL households by 31st March 2019. This target has been achieved.
  • India has released around 150 million connec­tions so far.
  • Avoided Emission Framework for a sustainable future:
  • India and Sweden, under a partnership, have developed an Avoided Emission Framework for a sustainable future.

Under this partnership, eight companies have been selected to demonstrate an initial 100 million tons of potential CO2 emission reduction by 2030.

Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management

On World Wetland Day, the Minister of State for Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change announced the Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM), which will be part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM).

  • World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2nd February.
  • The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands signed on 2nd February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
  • The theme for 2021 is 'Wetlands and Water'.
  • It was first celebrated in 1997.

Key Points

Significance of Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM):

  • The dedicated Centre would address specific research needs and knowledge gaps and aid in applying integrated approaches for conservation, management, and wise use of the wetlands.
  • It will help build partnerships and networks with relevant national and international agencies.
  • It would serve as a knowledge hub and enable exchange between State/ UT Wetland Authorities, wetland users, managers, researchers, policy­makers and practitioners.
  • It would also assist the national and State/ UT Governments in the design and implementation of policy and regulatory frameworks, management planning, monitoring and targeted research for wetlands conservation.

Wetlands:

  • Wetlands are ecosystems saturated with water, either seasonally or permanently. They include mangroves, marshes, rivers, lakes, deltas, floodplains and flooded forests, rice-fields, coral reefs, marine areas no deeper than 6 metres at low tide, as well as human-made wetlands such as waste-water treatment ponds and reservoirs.
  • Though they cover only around 6% of the Earth's land surface, 40% of all plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands.

Significance of Wetlands:

  • Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment. They mitigate floods, protect coastlines, build community resilience to disasters, absorb pollutants, and improve water quality.
  • Wetlands are critical to human and planet life. More than 1 billion people depend on them for a living.
  • They are a vital source for food, raw materials, genetic resources for medicines, and hydropower.

National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management

Location:

It is located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Divisions:

It has various research divisions including, Geospatial Sciences, Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Coastal environmental impact assessment, Conservation of Coastal & Marine Resources, etc.

Objective:

  • It aims to promote integrated and sustainable management of the coastal and marine areas in India for the benefit and wellbeing of the traditional coastal and island communities.
  • It also intends to promote sustainable coasts through increased partnership, conservation practices, scientific research and knowledge benefit, and the well-being of the current and future generations.

➤ Role:

  • Survey of India and NCSCM have mapped the Hazard Line for India's entire coast, which includes vulnerability mapping of flood, erosion, and sea-level rise.
  • It also advises the Union and State Governments and other associated stakeholders on policy, and scientific matters related to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM).
  • 30% of land-based carbon is stored in peatland (a type of wetlands).
  • They play an important role in transport, tourism, and people's cultural and spiritual well-being. 
  • Many wetlands are areas of natural beauty and many are important to Aboriginal people.

Threats:

  • As per the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) 's global assessment, wetlands are the most threatened ecosystem. o Wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests due to human activities and global warming. 
  • According to UNESCO, the threat to wetlands will hurt 40% of the world's flora and fauna that live or breed in wetlands.

Major threats: Agriculture, development, pollution and climate change.

Status of Wetlands in India:

  1. India has nearly 4.6% of its land as wetlands, covering an area of 15.26 million hectares and has 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites)
    • Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under the convention's strict guidelines.
    • There are currently over 2,300 Ramsar Sites around the world.
    • Recently, India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site.
  2. Wetlands are regulated under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. 
  3. The 2010 version of the Rules provided for a Central Wetland Regulatory Authority. Still, the new Rules of 2017 replaced it with state-level bodies and created a National Wetland Committee, which functions in an advisory role.
    • The newer regulations removed some items from the definition of "wetlands", including backwaters, lagoons, creeks, and estuaries.
    • Under the 2017 regulations, the process to identify the wetlands has been delegated to the States.

Climate Change Report on Hindukush Karakoram Ranges

Snowfall over the higher reaches of the Hindukush Himalayan mountain ranges has been rising in recent decades, shielding the area from glacier shrinkage, according to the 'Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region' study.

  • The recent massive flooding in the Alaknanda river, probably due to glacial bursts, has highlighted higher glacier retreat in recent decades due to global warming. However, the report indicates a contrasting picture of the Hindukush Himalayas. Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region Report has been published by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). India's first-ever national forecast on the impact of global warming on the subcontinent in the coming century.

Key Points

Findings of the Report:

  1. Several Hindukush Karakoram Himalayas have experienced a declining trend in snowfall and retreat of glaciers in recent decades. 
  2. In contrast, the high-elevation Karakoram Himala­yas have experienced higher winter snowfall that has shielded the region from glacier shrinkage.
    • The Karakorams are part of a complex mountain range at the centre of Asia, including the Hindukush to the west, the Pamirs to the northwest, the Kunlun Mountains to the northeast, and the Himalayas to the southeast. 
  3. Even when the winter snowfall has increased over the high-elevation Karakoram Himalayas, the overall climate along the Hindukush Karakoram region is undergoing warming at a higher rate during the winter season compared to other seasons.

➤ Reasons:

Hindukush Himalayan (HKH) Region

  • The HKH region spans Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • It traverses about 5 million square kilometres and hosts a large and culturally diverse population.
  • It is considered the Third Pole (after the North and South Poles), and has significant climate implications.
  • It contains vast cryospheric zones (frozen water parts) and is also the world's largest store of snow and ice outside the polar region.

Faster Heating of Himalayas:

  • Weather dynamics is intricate in the Himalayan region, arising from extensive interactions of tropical and extratropical weather systems.
  • The Himalayas have been warming at a faster rate than the rest of Indian landmass during 1951 - 2018.
  • Besides, the warming reported from this region is higher than global mean temperatures. 

Global Warming:

The decadal warming trend recorded over these ranges from 1951 to 2014 was 1.3 degree Celsius. This is a rise from 0.16 degree Celsius recorded from 1900 to 1950, when global warming was less pronounced.

Effect:

  1. Increasing Annual Mean Surface Temperature:
    • The Report has forecast an increase in annual mean surface temperature by 2.2 degree Celsius during 2040 - 2069 and a further increase by 3.3 degree Celsius during 2070 - 2099, along these ranges.
  2. Extreme Precipitation:
    • Due to this warming trend, there is an expected increase in the precipitation projected over the region. It is predicted that there will be a significant increase in extreme rainfall over the Hindukush Karakoram region, with maximum consecutive five-day precipitation events.

Significance:

  • Driver of Monsoon: The Hindukush Karakoram ranges, along with the Tibetan Plateau, are the main drivers of the Indian Summer Monsoon.
  • Source of Subsistence: These ranges form the source to 10 major river systems in Asia, supporting drinking water, irrigation and power supply to 1.3 billion people in the continent.
  • Major Indian rivers that replenish due to the melted snow are Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra.
  • After the North and the South poles, the Hindukush Karakoram ranges and the Tibetan Plateau hold the largest fresh water reserves.
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