- Volcanic Venus
Why in news
According to a recent study, Venus may still be geologically active.
- It was earlier believed that the surface of Venus had cooled and hardened so much that hot material deep within its surface could not puncture through to the surface.
- Now, a study has identified 37 active volcanoes on the surface of Venus by numerically modelling the activity on the planet.
It may help identify target areas for future missions.
- Arab world’s first nuclear plant achieves criticality
Why in news
- United Arab Emirates has announced the start-up of its Barakah nuclear power plant.
- Barakah was built by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation.
- The plant is located on a sparsely populated strip of desert on the Persian Gulf coast. It has 4 nuclear reactors.
- It will have a total capacity of 5,600 megawatts, which is almost a fifth of the country’s current installed generating capacity.
- Its first nuclear reactor has achieved first criticality.
- This has opened the way for commercial operations.
- U.K. to issue coin to honour Gandhiji
Why in news
- Britain is considering minting a coin to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi.
- Gandhiji’s birthday, October 2, is observed as the International Day of Non-Violence.
- As part of a global reassessment of history, colonialism and protests against racism in the U.S., some British institutions have begun re-examining their past.
- Many organisations have taken initiatives to make investments to help the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and to support racial diversity.
- Large Population and Assets to be Affected by Sea Level Rise
Why in News
Recently, a study in journal Scientific reports made predictions that a large population and assets will be globally affected as a consequence of Sea Level Rise (SLR).
- SLR is a consequence of climate change, which is predicted to increase coastal flooding by 2100.
- The global population potentially exposed to episodic coastal flooding will increase from 128-171 million to 176-287 million by 2100.
- 5-0.7% of the world’s land area is at a risk of episodic coastal flooding by 2100, impacting 2.5-4.1% of the population.
- The value of global assets exposed to coastal flooding is projected to be between 6,000-$9,000 billion USD, or 12-20% of the global GDP.
- Globally, of the 68% area that is prone to coastal flooding, over 32% can be attributed to regional SLR.
- For most of the world, flooding incidents that are typically associated with a 1 in a 100-year event could occur as frequently as 1 in 10 years, primarily as a result of SLR.
Sea Level Rise
- SLR is an increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of climate change, especially global warming, induced by three primary factors:
- When water heats up, it expands. About half of the sealevel rise over the past 25 years is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.
- Higher temperatures caused by global warming have led to greater-than-average summer melting of large ice formations like mountain glaciers as well as diminished snowfall due to later winters and earlier springs.
- That creates an imbalance between runoff and ocean evaporation, causing sea levels to rise.
Loss of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets:
- As with mountain glaciers, increased heat is causing the massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica to melt more quickly, and also move more quickly into the sea.
- Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has accelerated in recent decades.
- The average global sea level has risen 8.9 inches between 1880 and 2015. That’s much faster than in the previous 2,700 years.
- SLR is not uniform across the world. Regional SLR may be higher or lower than Global SLR due to subsidence, upstream flood control, erosion, regional ocean currents, variations in land height, and compressive weight of Ice Age glaciers.
- Sea level is primarily measured using tide stations and satellite laser altimeters. Earlier, IPCC released ‘The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ which underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers, and ice-deposits on land and sea.
- The report expects oceans to rise between 10 and 30 inches by 2100 with temperatures warming 5 °C.
Impacts of SLR
- Globally, eight of the world’s 10 largest cities are near a coast, which are threatened by coastal flooding.
- Jakarta (Indonesia) is being known as the world’s fastest-sinking city, by about 25 cm into the ground every year. Other cities that regularly feature in the lists endangered by climate change include Guangzhou, Jakarta, Miami, Mumbai and Manila.
Destruction of Coastal Biodiversity:
- SLR can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination with salt, and lost habitat for biodiversity.
Dangerous Storm Surges:
- Higher sea levels are coinciding with more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons leading to loss of life and property.
Lateral and Inland Migration:
- Flooding in low-lying coastal areas is forcing people to migrate to higher ground causing displacement and dispossession and in turn a refugee crisis worldwide.
Effect on Communications Infrastructure:
- The prospect of higher coastal water levels threatens basic services such as internet access.
Threat to Inland Life:
- Rising seas can contaminate soil and groundwater with salt threatening life farther away from coasts.
Tourism and Military Preparedness:
- Tourism to coastal areas and military preparedness will also be negatively affected with increase in SLR.
Adaptation Strategies to the threat of SLR:
- Many coastal cities have planned to adopt relocation as mitigation strategy. For example, Kiribati Island has planned to shift to Fiji, while the Capital of Indonesia is being relocated from Jakarta to Borneo.
Building Sea wall:
- Indonesia’s government launched a coastal development project called a Giant Sea Wall or “Giant Garuda” in 2014 meant to protect the city from floods.
- Researchers have proposed Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED), enclosing all of the North Sea to protect 15 Northern European countries from rising seas.
- The Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Irish Sea, and the Red Sea were also identified as areas that could benefit from similar mega enclosures.
Architecture to Steer Flow of Water:
- Dutch City Rotterdam built barriers, drainage, and innovative architectural features such as a “water square” with temporary ponds.
- Reducing future greenhouse gas emissions is the long-term goal we should all focus on to keep SLR in check. The Paris Agreement provides a clear vision on limiting global warming and thus, SLR.
- Some of the steps in this direction would include:
- Switching from fossil fuels to clean alternatives like solar and wind energy. Instituting carbon taxes on industries and subsidies for reducing carbon footprint.
- Carbon sequestration by geoengineering and natural methods like restoring peatland and wetland areas to capture existing greenhouses gases.
- Afforestation and reducing deforestation. Subsidizing research on climate change.
- Agatti Island of Lakshadweep
Why in News
Recently, the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has granted an interim stay on felling of coconut trees on Agatti Island in Lakshadweep.
- Recently, a petition was moved in the NGT over indiscriminate cutting of coconut trees for a beach road.
- The tree-felling was violating the Union Territory’s (UT) Integrated Island Management Plan (IIMP).
- IIMP was formulated on the basis of a report submitted by the Supreme Court-appointed Expert Committee, headed by Justice R.V. Raveendran, a former judge of the SC.
- IIMP includes holistic island development plans prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) for implementation by coastal States/ UTs.
- The IIMP undertakes scientific approaches, coupled with indigenous knowledge for the better management of the islands and its resources.
- Due to the large scale cutting of the coconut trees, local residents are affected by losing income from the tree produces.
- It also poses an environmental challenge because the trees on the coastline act as a green belt to protect the rest of the island during cyclones and other natural calamities.
- It is at a distance of 459 km (248 nautical miles) from Kochi (Kerala) and is located to the west of Kavaratti Island.
- Kavaratti is the capital of the UT of Lakshadweep. It has an area of 3.84 sq km and has a north-east, south-west trend with a long tail on the south.
- The lagoon area of this island is 17.50 sq km and there is plenty of coral growth and multicoloured coral fishes in the lagoons.
- Fishing is the most important industry of Agatti which is perhaps the only island besides Minicoy getting surplus fish. Next to fishing, coir (coconut fibre) and copra (dried meat or kernel of the coconut) are the main industries.
- Aspirin to Prevent Cataract
Why in News
Recently, scientists from the Institute of Nano Science & Technology (INST) have developed nanorods from the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) Aspirin to prevent cataracts in an economical and less complicated way.
- Aspirin is a popular medication used to reduce pain, fever, or inflammation and now it has been found to be an effective non–invasive small molecule-based nanotherapeutics against cataract.
INST is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.
- It is a major form of blindness that occurs when the structure of crystalline proteins that make up the lens in human eyes deteriorates.
- Such deterioration causes damaged or disorganised proteins to aggregate and form a milky blue or brown layer, which ultimately affects lens transparency.
- As with aging and under various conditions, the lens protein crystalline aggregates to form opaque structures in the eye lens, which impairs vision and causes cataract.
- Thus, prevention of the formation of these aggregates as well as their destruction in the early stage of disease progression is a major treatment strategy for cataracts.
Usage of Aspirin:
- The scientists have used the anti-aggregation ability of self-build aspirin nanorods as an effective non –invasive small molecule-based nanotherapeutics against cataract.
- It prevents the protein aggregation through biomolecular interactions, which convert it into coils and helices and consequently fail to aggregate.
- Aspirin nanorods due to their nano-size are expected to enhance bioavailability, improve drug loading, lower toxicity, etc.
- Hence, the delivery of the aspirin nanorods as eye drops is going to serve as an effective and viable option to treat cataract non-invasively.
- It is easy to use and a low-cost alternative nonsurgical treatment method and will benefit patients in developing countries who cannot access expensive cataract treatments and surgeries.