Jamrani dam in U’khand gets environmental clearance
The proposed Jamrani dam project of Uttarakhand, which has been hanging fire for over 40 years, has finally got environmental clearance from the Centre. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said environmental clearance to the long-awaited project would pave the way for its speedy implementation. Attributing the progress towards implementation of the project to the joint efforts of the state government and the Centre, Rawat said it would fulfil a long cherished dream of the residents of Bhabar area, a region south of the lower Himalayas and the Shivalik hills. “People of Terai-Bhabar region will get gravity water from the project which will also irrigate over 5000 hectares of land in Uttarakhand,” the chief minister told reporters. The Rs 2,584-crore project proposed in the 1970s will provide water to people of Nanital and Udham Singh Nagar districts in Uttarakhand for both drinking and irrigation purposes besides producing 14 mw of power, he said. Located on the Gola river in Nainital district, the dam will be nine-km-long, 130-metre-wide and 485-metre-high. The project got technical clearance from the Central Water Commission in February this year. The forest department has already given 351.49 hectares of land for the project and the state government has sanctioned an initial sum of Rs 89 crore for the project. The project is considered the lifeline of residents of Bhabar area. The 130-metre-high Jamrani dam was sanctioned on Gola river of Kathgodam area in Nainital district with an estimated cost of Rs 927.93 lakh in 2005 but its construction could not be started due to various reasons. “When the project was conceptualized, it was estimated to cost Rs400 crore. The estimated cost of the project was revised toRs 2300 crore in 2015, which has now increased to approximately Rs 2,800 crore,” said LK Sharma, chief engineer of the irrigation department for Kumaon.
Whales provide most efficient carbon sequestration services
Graceful, huge, frightening: Many adjectives are used to describe great whales, but now one more needs to be added to that list: valuable. Experts have determined that the carbon sequestration services provided by whales far outstrip those of trees, once again underlining why it is critical for us to conserve these magnificent, endangered creatures. According to a new study from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the average great whale sequesters 33 tons (about 29,937 kilos) of carbon dioxide (CO2). By comparison, an average tree absorbs up to 48 pounds (21 kg) of CO2 a year. In addition, the presence of whales also promotes the growth of phytoplankton, microscopic marine creatures that contribute at least 50% of oxygen to our atmosphere by capturing about 40% of all CO2 produced: equivalent to 4 Amazon forests’ worth. It is these facts that make whales one of Nature’s most efficient carbon sequestration ‘technologies’, says the IMF study, which estimates the economic value of each whale as more than $2 million, and the collective value of the world’s great whales as “easily over $1 trillion”. Sadly, the numbers of whales have plummeted in recent decades due to relentless whaling. The study says that if whales were allowed to return to their pre-whaling population of 4-5 million from 1.3 million today, it could do wonders for the environment. “At a minimum, even a 1 percent increase in phytoplankton productivity thanks to whale activity would capture hundreds of millions of tons of additional CO2 a year, equivalent to the sudden appearance of 2 billion mature trees,” write authors Ralph Chami, Thomas Cosimano, Connel Fullenkamp, and Sena Oztosun. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Therefore, higher CO2 emissions are associated with enhanced global warming, which affects ecosystems, climate patterns and economic growth. CO2 is released by natural processes such as exploding volcanoes and as well. However, human-induced carbon emissions from industry, transport, power and other activities far exceed the emissions involved in natural processes. And they’re only growing, despite pledges made by Paris Agreement signatories to slash emissions to prevent a 2°C rise in global temperatures by the year 2100. “Since the role of whales is irreplaceable in mitigating and building resilience to climate change, their survival should be integrated into the objectives of the 190 countries that in 2015 signed the Paris Agreement for combating climate risk,” the report’s authors add.
Warming oceans attack glaciers where they are most vulnerable: Study
The reports of ice sheets breaking off in Arctic and Antarctic glaciers have become increasingly common in the past few years. Even as the world accelerates its efforts to contain its emissions in fear of sea-level rise and other impacts of global warming, the loss of sea ice has continued unabated. Now, researchers have discovered a unique process around the thick glaciers that leads to ice shelf breakup and the implications of it are truly alarming. The study shows that warming ocean waters are attacking the margins of the ice shelves resulting in faster breakup and retreat of glaciers. The researchers, from the USA, used satellite data to observe how warm ocean water beneath the ice shelves moves along the glaciers in Antarctica. They found that the ice sheet drainage is preconditioned for a rapid pull-back in response to ocean warming. Glaciers are also called as the rivers of ice or the solid rivers as gravity causes a continuous flow of ice in them. During such flow, the differences in velocity trigger the formation of long channels (troughs) on the surface along the margins of the ice streams. Such troughs cause the ice from below to move up, causing similar long deformities in the base. Researchers have now shown that the warm ocean water creeps into these base troughs causing localised melting that weaken the ice-shelf margins. This newly discovered process leads to conditions favourable for the rapid breakup of sea ice and rise in sea level. The implications of such conditions mean a much rapid melting across the glaciers in response to global warming. Incorporating this understanding into the climate models can project a higher sea-level rise and faster loss of ice in the coming years. The findings were published this week in the peer-reviewed journal, Science Advances.
Ice on Lunar South Pole may have more than one source: Study
Researchers have shed light on the ages of ice deposits reported in the area of the Moon's South Pole -- information that could help identify the sources of the deposits and help in planning future human exploration. The study published in the journal Icarus suggests that while a majority of those deposits are likely billions of years old, some may be much more recent. “The ages of these deposits can potentially tell us something about the origin of the ice, which helps us understand the sources and distribution of water in the inner solar system,” said study lead author Ariel Deutsch from Brown University. “For exploration purposes, we need to understand the lateral and vertical distributions of these deposits to figure out how best to access them. These distributions evolve with time, so having an idea of the age is important,” Deutsch said. For the study, Deutsch worked with Professor Jim Head and Gregory Neumann from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre. Using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the Moon since 2009, the researchers looked at the ages of the large craters in which evidence of South Pole ice deposits was found. To date the craters, researchers count the number of smaller craters that have accrued inside the larger ones. Scientists have an approximate idea of the pace of impacts over time, so counting craters can help establish the ages of terrains. A majority of the reported ice deposits are found within large craters formed about 3.1 billion years ago or longer, the study found. The deposits have a patchy distribution across crater floors, which suggest that the ice has been battered by micrometeorite impacts and other debris over a long period of time. If those reported ice deposits are indeed ancient, that could have significant implications in terms of exploration and potential resource utilisation, the researchers said. While the majority of ice was in the ancient craters, the researchers also found evidence for ice in smaller craters that, judging by their sharp, well-defined features, appear to be quite fresh. This suggests that some of the deposits on the South Pole got there relatively recently. The best way to find out for sure is to send spacecraft to get some samples which event appears to be on the horizon. NASA’s Artemis programme aims to put humans on the Moon by 2024, and plans to fly numerous precursor missions with robotic spacecraft in the meantime.