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2016 was India’s warmest year ever

India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the third week of January 2017 announced that 2016 was India’s warmest year ever recorded since the documenting of meteorological records began in 1901.
●    The announcement was made in IMD’s Statement on Climate of India during 2016.
●    During 2016, the average annual mean surface temperature in India was +0.91 degree Celsius above the average recorded between 1961 and 1990.
●    During the year, the weather conditions in India were in line with warmer than normal climate observed globally.
●    Before 2016, the warmest year on record was recorded in 2009 when annual mean temperature was +0.77 degree Celsius above average.
●    2016 was warmer than 2015 by 0.240 Celsius.
●    The 2016 annual rainfall over the country as a whole was 91 per cent of Long Period Average (LPA) value for the period 1951-2000.
●    The annual rainfall deficiency was mainly due to the significantly below average rainfall during the winter and northeast monsoon seasons.
 

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Paris Climate agreement to take effect from Nov 4

The landmark Paris agreement on climate change will enter into force on Nov. 4.
●    President Barack Obama hailed the news as "a turning point for our planet," and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the agreement's strong international support a "testament for the urgency of action." 
●    The deal takes effect 30 days after 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions, have adopted it. 
●    Sixty-two countries had done so as of Tuesday but they accounted only for about 52 percent of emissions.
●    The Paris agreement commits rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, rising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. 
●    It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius 

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White House bans oil, gas drilling in Arctic, Atlantic oceans

The White House in the fourth week of December 2016 permanently banned all new oil and gas drilling in the US-owned waters of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
●    This ban is being termed as a final effort to lock in environmental protections before current President Barack Obama hands over his office to president-elect Donald Trump.
●    To implement the ban on the two Oceans, an area that is roughly equal to the size of Thailand or Spain on Arctic and 31 sea canyons in the Arctic, Obama used a law of 1953 under which a president can block the mining and sale of new offshore drilling rights. The law makes it difficult for his/her successors to reverse the decision.
●    The ban was jointly announced by Obama and Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister.
●    Outgoing President Obama’s decision comes at a time of his departure from his office holds its ground. 
●    It holds ground because of his difference, in relation to policies related to the environment, between him and the president-elect Trump.

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Scientists discover 163 new species in the Greater Mekong region

The World Wildlife Fund reports that a group of researchers discovered 163 new species in the Greater Mekong region.
●    A rainbow-headed snake, a dragon-like lizard and a newt that looks like a Klingon from Star Trek were among the 163 new species that were found in the region. In all, 9 amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles, 126 plants and 3 mammals were described for the first time. Scientists also discovered a rare banana species from Thailand.
●    Between 1997 and 2015, there have been 2409 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong. This adds to the over 430 mammal species, 800 reptiles and amphibians, 1200 birds, 1100 fish and 20000 plant species already known to science.
●    About Greater Mekong region
●    The Greater Mekong is an international region of the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia.
●    It holds irreplaceable natural and cultural riches and is considered one of the world's most significant biodiversity hotspot.
●    The region has a diverse geographic landscape including massifs, plateaus, limestone karsts, lowlands, fertile floodplains and deltas, forests and grasslands.
●    It encapsulates 16 of the WWF Global 200 ecoregions and habitats for an estimated 20000 plant species, 1300 fish species, 1200 bird species, 800 reptile and amphibian species, and 430 mammal species.
●    The region's biodiversity is ranked as a top-five most threatened hotspot by Conservation International. The WWF also states that the region is particularly vulnerable to global climate change.

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Cyclone Vardah to make landfall near Chennai tomorrow noon

Cyclone Vardah is expected to cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Chennai and Ongole. This may bring good rainfall over north coastal districts, including Chennai.
●    According to Meteorological Department, the weather system has now intensified into very severe cyclonic storm.
●    The weather system now lies about 300 km east of Chennai and 350 km east-southeast of Nellore. It is very likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually while moving towards north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts.
●    It is very likely to cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts, close to Chennai, with a wind speed of up to 100 kmph on Monday afternoon.
●    Tidal waves likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu; and Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.
●    The IMD has predicted isolated heavy to very heavy falls over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during the next 36 hours.
 

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Sharks and stingrays face extinction

A staggering percentage of the world's sharks and rays are now "alarmingly" close to the brink of extinction, according to the a new study spearheaded by the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 
●    A collaborative project that involved more than 300 experts from 64 countries, the study also found that chondrichthyes -- the class of cartilaginous fish that includes sharks, rays and chimaeras -- are at a "substantially higher risk than most other groups of animals and have the lowest percentage of species considered safe -- with only 23 percent categorized as 'Least Concern.'"
●    Researchers say they were also troubled to find that rays are generally even more threatened than sharks are. Rays like sawfish, wedgefish, guitarfish and stingray, for instance, are among the top 10 most-threatened families of chondrichthyes.
●    According to the IUCN, sharks, rays and chimaeras are "one of the world’s oldest and most ecologically-diverse groups of animals."
 

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Great Barrier Reef sees largest coral die-off ever

A mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef this year killed more corals than ever before, scientists said on Tuesday.
●    The 2,300-kilometre long reef — the world’s biggest — suffered its most severe bleaching in recorded history, due to warming sea temperatures during March and April.
●    Further south over the vast central and southern regions, including major tourist areas around Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands, there was a much lower toll.
●    Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
●    Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow.
●    The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and means it will eventually die.
●    However, coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.
●    Environmentalists blame the burning of fossil fuels for global warming and repeated calls for Australia to abandon coal mining to help prevent further bleaching disasters.

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North Pole 36 degrees warmer than normal in winter

In 2016 which has been a zany year for the north pole, with multiple records set for low levels of monthly sea ice. 
●    The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia.
●    At the same time, one of the key indicators of the state of the Arctic the extent of sea ice covering the polar ocean is at a record low. 
●    The ice is freezing up again, as it always does this time of year after reaching its September low, but it isn’t doing so as rapidly as usual.
●    In fact, the ice’s area is even lower than it was during the record-low 2012.
●    This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the North Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels. 
●    During 2015’s final days, the temperature near the Pole spiked to the melting point thanks to a massive storm that pumped warm air into the region.

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COP 22 concludes : Roadmap to 2018 deadlines drawn, Not much consensus on Climate Finance

An important marker of progress in climate negotiations post the Paris accord, COP22 at Marrakesh, concluded here early on Saturday morning with negotiators from over 190 countries setting a deadline of 2018 to finalise the rule book, which would turn pledges made in Paris into action.
●    But the very fact that the conference (COP22) which was scheduled to conclude on Friday, stretched into the next day, showed that on tricky issues like finance, consensus remains elusive between the developed and the developing world.
●    A clear roadmap to meet the 2018 deadline was drawn out. 
●    The rules will specify the ways and means for measuring and accounting of emission reductions in all countries and they will be framed in such a way that it can take care of transparency of action of all countries as per their respective pledges under the agreement which was adopted by 195 countries in December last year in Paris.

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India, COP22 discuss enhanced cooperation

India today asserted that all future actions on climate change must be firmly rooted in climate justice and issues like adopting a sustainable lifestyle will be central to its course of action.
●    Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave made the assertion in his meeting with Conference of Parties (COP22) president and Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar.
●    Dave told the COP President that India believes that all future actions must be firmly rooted in climate justice and issues like adopting sustainable lifestyle.
●    Mezouar also appreciated India's initiative in "stitching together a formidable" International Solar Alliance (ISA).
●    Both the leaders also discussed enhancing South-South Cooperation among other issues during the meeting.
●    The CoP22 started on November 7 and will go on till November 18.


 

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