According to a new study, the fire regimes in the Arctic are changing rapidly with 'zombie fires' becoming more frequent in addition to fires that occur in the once-frozen tundra.
Zombie Fires in the Arctic Characteristics
➤ Zombie Fire
- It is a fire that can smoulder under the earth, consisting of carbon-rich peat from a previous growing season. The fire can be reignited when the weather warms. These are also recognized just like the holdover fires.
- The fires that spread to areas that were formerly fire-resistant in the Arctic are a more worrisome feature.
- The tundra is drying up, and vegetation is beginning to catch fire, such as moss, grass, dwarf shrubs, etc.
- The tundra is a cold area of treeless or rolling ground found mostly north of the Arctic Circle or mountains above the timberline.
- The burning occurred well above the Arctic Circle in 2019 and 2020, a region not normally known to support large wildfires. Permafrost wildfires in Siberia, south of the Arctic, are not uncommon.
- The reason for this anomaly is that temperatures during 2019-20 were warmer than usual in winter and spring.
- Siberia's temperature went through the roof in 2020, with a severe heatwave recorded in the region.
- Almost all of this year's fires occurred on continuous permafrost inside the Arctic Circle, with over half of these burning on ancient peat soils rich in carbon.
- The fires and record temperatures could turn a carbon sink into a source of carbon and increase global warming.
- The Arctic region has a cold body of water and permafrost, which acts naturally as a carbon sink. It absorbs, on average, 58 megatons of CO2 per year in its cold water.
- Soils in permafrost regions contain twice the amount of carbon they currently contain in the atmosphere.
- Microbes have begun to break down this organic carbon, frozen and fixed in the permafrost, as the climate and permafrost soils have warmed. That has led to a rise in CO2 and methane emissions from the land.
Permafrost becoming a source of CO2 instead of sink
- With rising temperatures, there will also be less carbon absorption by water.
- It will be a feedback loop: As peatlands release more carbon, global warming increases, which thaws more peat and causes more wildfires.
- It is mainly found near the polar zones and high mountain regions, covering Greenland, Alaska, Russia, Siberia, Scandinavia and Northern Canada.
- The Arctic regions are warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with the current temperature change rate being the highest in 2,000 years. Permafrost is the most endangered by climate change.
Daring Cities 2020 Conference
At the 'Daring Cities 2020' conference on 7 October, the Chief Minister of Delhi will be among the five urban leaders worldwide to speak.
➤ Daring Cities
- It is a virtual, action-oriented forum to recognize and empower urban leaders to disrupt business-as-usual and move towards business-as-possible, including mayors and other decision-makers, technical staff, researchers, private sector representatives, and community organizers.
- It presents and catalyzes exemplary local climate action, including ambitious resilience-building and climate mitigation efforts, to address climate emergencies.
- ICLEI and the Federal City of Bonn created it (Germany).
- It builds on the experience and network established by ICLEI and the Federal City of Bonn during the Resilient Cities Congresses that were held annually from 2010 to 2019.
- ICLEI - Local Sustainability Governments is a worldwide network of over 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Several Indian municipal Corporation and councils are members, such as Pune Municipal Corporation, Nainital Municipal Council, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, etc.
➤ Daring Cities 2020
- It will be a three-week event (7-28 October 2020) comprising high-level and visionary speakers, a series of informative workshops, and personal networking opportunities to accommodate various topics, time zones, and internet bandwidth limits and languages in a variety of virtual formats.
- The event will contribute to setting the course for COP26, Daring Cities 2021 and beyond.
- The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (COP 26) will occur in Glasgow, UK, in 2021.
➤ The Participation of India
- Together with urban leaders and decision-makers from Bogota (Colombia), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Los Angeles (USA) and Entebbe (Uganda), Delhi CM has been invited to discuss multi-level action to address the climate emergency and environmental sustainability.
- Delhi CM will speak on how Delhi has responded to the existing climate emergency, air pollution crisis, including recent innovative solutions such as the Pusa decomposer and the first-of-its-kind Electric Vehicles (EV) policy in India to tackle air pollution in the Capital.
Graded Response Action Plan
Delhi and neighbouring States have recently been directed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) to implement air pollution control measures under the inferior and severe air quality category of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) as of 15 October 2020.
Graded Response Action PlanCore Points
➤ Graded Response Action plan:
- It was formulated in 2016 and notified to Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) in 2017 after EPCA held several meetings with representatives of state government and experts.
- These are institutionalized measures to be taken when the air quality deteriorates, thus only functioning as an emergency measure.
- The GRAP includes measures to be taken by various government agencies to prevent Delhi-NCR from deteriorating air quality and prevent PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels from going beyond the 'moderate' category of the National Air Quality Index (AQI).
- GRAP suggests shutting down schools and implementing the odd-even road-space rationing system if air quality reaches the severe + stage.
- The plan calls for action and coordination between 13 different Delhi agencies and NCRs in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
➤ Reasons for winter pollution in Delhi
In addition to other pollution caused by overpopulation, vehicle emissions, and industries, The following are factors that make winter pollution severe:
- Stubble Burning: In Punjab and Haryana, it is a traditional practice to clean the rice chaff to prepare winter sowing fields.
- Jet Stream Shift: The subtropical jet stream's southward shift causes a westward wind pattern in India's northern part, spreading pollutants.
- Stagnant Lower Level Winds: As the winter season sets in, due to stagnant low-level winds, dust particles and pollutants in the air hardly move, so pollutants get locked in the air and affect weather conditions, resulting in smog.
➤ Environment Authority for Pollution Control
- In 1998, it was notified under the 1986 Environment Protection Act.
- The EPCA is a mandated Supreme Court body tasked with taking various NCR measures to tackle air pollution.
A new 50 million pound Earth shot Prize, aimed at funding the launch, supported by popular British broadcasters and the most innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges was recently launched by Prince William of Britain.
- Conservationist David Attenborough comes after two years of work by Prince William and the Royal Foundation of the Duke to develop a project which will support the global effort to protect and restore the environment.
- Recently Sir David Attenborough has also been conferred with Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for 2019. o The Prize has been launched taking inspiration from former USA President John F. Kennedy's Moonshot, which united millions of people around an organising goal to put a man on the moon and catalysed the development of new technology 1960s.
➤ About the award
The Earth shot Prize focuses on five "Earthshots" simple but ambitious goals for the planet that will improve life for all, for generations to come if achieved by 2030. It is said to be the most prestigious global prize in history for the environment.
- Protect nature and restore it.
- Clean the air.
- Revive our oceans.
- Build a world free of waste.
- Fix the climate.
Each year between 2021 and 2030 it will take place in different cities around the world, where five winners for each of the Earth shots will be selected from 15 finalists.
The first awards ceremony will take place in the autumn of 2021 in London.
- Benefits to Winners: Each winner will receive a global platform and prestigious profile after the awards, with their stories, showed over the decade with the ambition that their solutions contribute to mass adoption, replication, and scaling.
- The prize money of 1 million pounds will support environmental, and conservation projects agreed with the winner.
Prizes could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations of scientists, activists, economists, community projects, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities and countries, all of whom contribute to the achievement of Earthshots through their workable solutions.
The Earth shot Prize will be supported, in addition to the Prize Council, by its Global Alliance, a network of organisations worldwide that share the Prize's ambition to repair the planet.
Anti-pollution Campaign: Delhi
A major anti-pollution campaign, Yuddh Pradushan Ke Viruddh, has recently been launched by the Delhi Government, including a tree transplantation policy, the construction of a smog tower at Connaught Place (Delhi), the promotion of electric vehicles (EVs) and the prevention of stubble burning.
This will help combat Delhi's poor air quality, which is deteriorating even further during the winter season.
➤ Policy on Tree Transplantation
- Transplantation of a tree refers to removing a tree from a specific place, lifting it, and then planting it at another point.
- A minimum of 80 percent of the trees affected by any developmental project will be transplanted under this policy.
- A minimum of 80 percent of the transplanted trees should also survive, and the agencies that will take permission from the government would be responsible for ensuring this.
- In addition to the existing compensatory afforestation, this transplantation will involve planting 10 saplings for each tree that is cut.
- The government will also form a panel of agencies that excel in transplantation and a dedicated Tree Transplantation Cell.
- Transplantation will ensure that old trees are preserved because planting a new sample as a replacement for an existing fully grown tree does not adequately counteract the adverse environmental effect of cutting the existing tree.
- Many old trees also have a symbolic or patrimonial value that needs to be preserved.
- Low success rate: Transplantation with a success rate of around 50 per cent is a complicated process. As a tree growing on the Delhi ridge is unlikely to survive in the Yamuna floodplain, a transplanted tree's survival rate depends on the soil type.
- Costly: Transplanting an average-sized tree costs about Rs. 1 lakh.
- As per the November 2019 order of the Supreme Court to the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board, a smog tower, which will act as a mega air purifier, will also be installed in Delhi to counter the persistent smog problem in Delhi.
- The result is that the towers installed in Delhi will be a partnership between the Mumbai and Delhi IITs and the University of Minnesota.
- In recent years, smog towers have been tested in Cities in the Netherlands, China, South Korea, and Poland.
- The first such tower, created by the Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, was built in 2015 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
- The largest air-purifying tower in the world is in Xi'an, China.
- The Tower will suck up the polluted air from above and release from the bottom clean air.
- Many experts have argued that smog towers are not effective in cleaning the air per se because of the large volume of air outdoors.
- Even in the case of China, there is insufficient data to support its smog towers' efficiency.
- An expert panel has estimated that to combat the pollution crisis, Delhi will need a total of 213 smog towers, which will be very expensive as each tower will cost around 20 crore rupees.
➤ Electric Vehicles
- The government aims to make a quarter of new vehicles registered in the capital account for EVs by 2024.
- The purchase incentives, scrapping benefits for older vehicles, loans at favourable interest, and road taxes waiver will benefit EVs.
- The Government of Delhi recently announced the 2020 Electric Vehicles Policy, which places the utmost emphasis on replacing two-wheelers, public transport and shared vehicles and goods carriers with EVs instead of private four-wheelers.
- The campaign also focuses on cutting deadly smoke from thermal plants and brick kilns in Delhi and these steps and on the chemical treatment of stubble burning from neighbouring states.
A team of scientists have identified iodic acid (HIO3) as a novel driver responsible for Arctic Amplification or Arctic Warming for new aerosol particle formation in the Arctic. The region had not previously observed the presence of iodic acid.
These aerosol particles affect cloud formation. The impact the warming of the Arctic as these clouds reflect solar radiation (known as Aerosol Radiative Forcing) and retain heat on Earth's surface.
- The Arctic has warmed at about twice the entire globe's rate in the past 30 years, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.
- This implies that the Arctic is affected more by global warming and climate change than by the rest of the world.
- Global temperatures from 2000-2009 were about 0.6 ° C higher on average than they were between 1951-1980. However, the Arctic was about 2°C warmer.
- In the 1980s, scientists first began to see evidence of changes in the Arctic climate. The changes have become much more pronounced since then.
➤ Albedo Change:
Albedo is a measure of how much light is reflected without being absorbed when it hits a surface.
- It gives way to a darker ocean (reducing albedo) when bright and reflective ice (with more albedo) melts; this amplifies the warming trend because the ocean surface absorbs more heat from the Sun than the snow and ice surface.
The changing currents of the ocean:
- Normally, ocean currents bring warmer water from the Pacific, and colder water exits into the Atlantic from the Arctic.
- But those currents may change because more melting ice injects freshwater into the Arctic Ocean.
- Also, the missing ice exposes more wind to the surface waters.
- At the surface, this mixes colder freshwater and warmer saltwater below, raising surface temperatures and melting ice further.
Changing weather conditions
- The powerful polar jet stream, which moves hot and cold air masses, drives ocean currents around the Northern Hemisphere.
- This is a product of the temperature differences between the Arctic and the tropics.
- But as the Arctic warms, the jet stream now undulates wildly north and south. This has been injecting the Arctic with warm air.
- Thunderstorms are also much more likely to occur in the tropics than the higher latitudes. The storms transport heat from the surface to higher atmospheres, where global wind patterns sweep it toward higher latitudes.
Impact in the Arctic
- The floating sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean is shrinking, especially during summer.
- Snow cover over land in the Arctic has decreased, notably in spring.
- Also, frozen ground in the Arctic, known as permafrost, is warming and in many areas thawing.
Madhuca Diplostemon: Rediscovered in Kerala
After a gap of more than 180 years, the Madhuca diplostemonous tree was rediscovered from a sacred grove in Kollam district, Kerala.
Madhuca diplostemonousCore Points
- In Malayalam, the tree is locally known as Kavilippa.
- Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) in Palode, Kerala, have identified it.
- The endangered species of the Western Ghats are thought to be extinct.
- This is the second time a tree of this species has ever been found and so far only one mature tree has been found, making this remarkable rediscovery remarkable.
Extremely valuable from the point of view of science, the environment and conservation.
In 1835, the first specimen was found by Robert Wight, a surgeon-botanist with the East India Company.
- Specimens of the tree have never been collected again since its original collection, neither from its location or elsewhere, and botanical explorations in Eastern and Western Ghats have failed to locate the species.
It has been placed on the list of endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Nevertheless, since there is only one specimen left in the
It is eligible to be classified as 'Critically Endangered' in a single locality.
- The JNTBGRI plans to undertake ex-situ conservation of this species through the species recovery program of the Institute.