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Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurates highest Meteorological Centre in India at Leh


Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Science and Technology and Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurated Meteorological (Met) Centre at Leh (Ladakh) via video conferencing at an event on 29th of  December in Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi. 

Guest of Honour Radha Krishna Mathur, Lieutenant Governor, Ladakh and Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, MP Ladakh also joined the event virtually. Dr M Rajeevan, Secretary, MoES; Dr Vipin Chandra, JS MoES; Dr M Mohapatra, DG IMD; Gopal Iyenger, Scientist- F, MoES and other officials were also present on the occasion.

At the outset, the Union Minister thanked the administration of Ladakh for extending full support and their active cooperation in establishing the Met Centre facility at Leh. 

Elaborating on the need for a Met Centre at Leh, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Ladakh region has lofty mountains with high slopes and no vegetation and lot of loose soil and debris making the region vulnerable to various kinds of natural hazards like Cloud burst (of 2010), Flash Floods, Avalanches and Glacial Lake Outbursts, etc. To avert losses due to such weather events in future, the Government felt the need to establish a State of the Art Meteorological (Met) Centre at Leh in 2020 to strengthen weather related Early Warning System in Ladakh. Located at a height of 3500m, Meteorological Centre in Leh is creating history, as it will be the highest meteorological centre in India, he added.

He also said that to help the administration and the people of Ladakh, IMD will provide a range of weather forecast services, ranging from short (3 days) and medium (12 days) to extended (1 month) period to all the stake holders on a daily basis for both the districts (Leh and Kargil).

“Apart from district level forecast, IMD will provide forecast for important tourist places like Nubra, Changthang, Pangong Lake, Zanskar, Kargil, Drass, Dha-Baima(Aryan valley), Khalsi, etc. Some of the important services to be made available are Highway Forecast, Forecast for Mountaineering, Trekking, agriculture, flash flood warning, low and high temperatures among others”, Dr Hardh Vardhan explained.

“The Met Center will be a world class facility for high altitude meteorology and will cater to the various kinds of weather and climate needs of the people and the administration of Ladakh”, Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

#HarshVardhan #IMD #Ladakh #Leh

Air Quality Commission calls for strict implementation of RFID system at toll plazas in Delhi


The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system was set-up at 13 Toll Plazas in Delhi to control vehicular pollution from commercial vehicles entering Delhi. These 13 toll plazas contribute to about 70 per cent commercial vehicles entry to NCT of Delhi. 

A release issued by the Ministry of Environment said that it was brought into the notice of the Commission for Air Quality Management for Delhi NCR and adjoining areas that RFID is not being fully implemented at 13 toll plazas in Delhi with effect from 14/08/2020 and waiver is being given to Commercial Vehicles without such RFID tags or inadequate balance in the tags. 

Considering the pollution scenario in Delhi and the fact that commercial vehicles are an important contributor to the vehicular pollution, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has been instructed to ensure RFID compliance at all the 13 toll plazas with effect from 1st of January, 2021 and disallowing entry of vehicles without RFID tags or inadequate balance in the tags.  

SDMC has also been directed to give adequate publicity and advance intimation to minimize inconvenience to the drivers of commercial vehicles entering Delhi.

#Delhi #AirPollution

International Blue Flag hoisted at 8 beaches across India


Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar today virtually hoisted the international blue flags in 8 beaches across the country.

India secured the International Blue Flag Certification for these beaches on 6th October 2020, when an International Jury comprising of member organizations UNEP, UNWTO, UNESCO, IUCN, ILS, FEE etc. announced the award at Copenhagen, Denmark. Blue Flag certification is a globally recognised eco-label accorded by "Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark" based on 33 stringent criteria.

While congratulating and lauding the efforts of the State and central government as well as the people, Mr Javadekar said that neat and clean beaches are an indicator that the coastal environment is in good health and the Blue Flag certification is a global recognition of India's conservation and sustainable development efforts.

The Environment Minister further informed that hundred more such beaches will be made Blue Flag in coming 3-4 years and highlighted that cleaning beaches needs to be a made a "Jan Andolan" not only for its aesthetic value and tourism prospects but more importantly towards reducing the menace of marine litter and making coastal environment sustainable.

The beaches where the International Blue Flags were hoisted are Kappad (Kerala), Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman and Nicobar Islands). The Flags were also simultaneously hoisted on these beaches physically by state ministers and senior officials of the respective state and Union territories.

India started its journey of sustainable development of coastal regions on World Environment Day in June’ 2018 by launching its beach cleaning campaign – I-AM- SAVING-MY-BEACH simultaneously at 13 coastal states and thereafter implementing ministry’s coveted program BEAMS(Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services).

Today, the introduction of BEAMS program in 10 coastal states have resulted into the international level of cleanliness at beaches with over 500 tonnes of solid waste collected, recycled and scientifically disposed at these beaches reducing the menace of marine litter by over 78 per cent and marine plastic by over 83 per cent. Approximately 11000 KL of water was saved by recycling and reuse with BEAMS program, which has resulted into an increase in footfall at these beaches by over 85 per cent cumulative.

#BEAMS #PrakashJavadekar

Ladakh's Tso Kar Wetland Complex added as Ramsar site


India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, which is a second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.

Expressing happiness, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar shared this information in a tweet message today.

The tweet message is as follows, 

"Happy to share that high-altitude wetland complex in Changthang region of Ladakh is recognized as wetland of international importance. The complex is a notable example of two connected lakes, the freshwater Startsapuk Tso & the hypersaline Tso Kar. Now, India has 42 Ramsar sites."

The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies, Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India. It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.

The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway. The site is also one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in India. This IBA is also the major breeding area for Great Crested Grebe (Podicepscristatus), Bar-headed Geese (Anserindicus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadornaferruginea), Brown-headed Gull (Larusbrunnicephalus), Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadriusmongolus) and many other species.

The aim of the Ramsar list is "to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits."

#TsoKarWetland #Ladakh

60 per cent rise in Leopard population across India


Releasing the Status of Leopards report in New Delhi, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has said that increase in Tiger, Lion and Leopards numbers over the last few years is a testimony to the conservation efforts and of the fledgeling wildlife and biodiversity of the country.

According to the Status released yesterday, India now has 12,852 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of 7,910 conducted in 2014. More than 60 per cent increase in population has been recorded. The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Javadekar remarked that monitoring of the tiger in India has clearly shown its umbrella role in the ecosystem, which has shed light on other charismatic species like the Leopard.

India's world record tiger survey also estimated the population of leopards and the tiger range was found to be home to 12,852 (12,172-13,535) leopards. They occur in prey rich protected areas as well as multi-use forests. A total of 5,240 adult individual leopards were identified in a total of 51,337 leopard photographs using pattern recognition software. The statistical analysis estimates the leopard population at - 12,800 leopards within the tiger's range.

The leopard was estimated across forested habitats in tiger range areas of the country but other leopard occupied areas such as non-forested habitats (coffee and tea plantations and other land uses from where leopards are known to occur), higher elevations in the Himalayas, arid landscapes and the majority of North East landscape were not sampled and, therefore, the population estimation should be considered as a minimum number of leopards in each of the landscapes.

Tiger has not only served as an umbrella species but even its monitoring has helped evaluate the status of other species, like the leopard. The National Tiger Conservation Authority-Wildlife Institute of India (NTCA-WII) shall be reporting on several other species soon.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today expressed happiness over the increasing population of Leopards in our country and congratulated all those who are working towards animal conservation.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, "Great news! 

After lions and tigers, the leopard population increases. 

Congratulations to all those who are working towards animal conservation. We have to keep up these efforts and ensure our animals live in safe habitats." 

#Leopard #PrakashJavadekar

Weather Forecast for the week


According to the National Weather Forecasting Centre of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), under the influence of the easterly wave, scattered to fairly widespread rain/thundershowers very likely over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal, Kerala and Mahe and Lakshadweep area during next 3 days. 

Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall very likely over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal on 17th December and isolated heavy falls on 18th and 19th December and over Kerala and Mahe on 18th December and over Lakshadweep on 19th and 20th December 2020. A fresh feeble Western Disturbance is very likely to cause light rain/snow over the Western Himalayan region on 20th and 21st December 2020. No significant rainfall is likely over remaining parts of the country during the week.

Cumulatively, above normal rainfall likely over the south peninsula and below normal rain/snow likely over Western Himalayan Region during the week.


Droughts in India influenced by North Atlantic air currents


Nearly half of the droughts that occurred during the Indian summer monsoon season in the past century may have been driven by atmospheric disturbances from the North Atlantic region, finds a new study published in Science. It was carried out by researchers at the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (CAOS), Indian Institute of Science (IISc). 

More than a billion people depend on the annual Indian summer monsoon, which brings copious rain to large swathes of the country between June and September. When it fails, and most of the country is plunged into drought, the usual suspect is El Niño, a recurring climate event during which abnormally warm equatorial Pacific waters pull moisture-laden clouds away from the Indian subcontinent. But 10 out of 23 droughts that India faced in the past century have occurred during years when El Niño was absent. What, then, could have caused these droughts? 

The IISc study shows that these droughts were a consequence of a sudden and steep drop in rainfall in late August. This drop was linked to an atmospheric disturbance in the midlatitude region over the North Atlantic Ocean, creating a pattern of atmospheric currents that swoop in over the subcontinent and “derail” the monsoon. 

“As early as the 1980s, people have looked at these droughts individually. But they have not collated and pooled them together, and deduced that these droughts may all have a different type of evolution than El Niño droughts, as well as a common cause, which is this midlatitude influence,” says V Venugopal, Associate Professor at CAOS and one of the senior authors of the paper.  

The research team looked closely at daily rainfall during both El Niño and non-El Niño drought years, and noticed stark differences in their patterns between June and September. 

The droughts that happen during an El Niño year follow a standard pattern. The rainfall deficit, departure from a long-term average, sets in early around mid-June and becomes progressively worse. By mid-August, the deficit spreads across the country and there is no going back from a drought. 

Surprisingly, the droughts during the non-El Niño years, when analysed together, also seemed to follow a common pattern. First, there was a moderate slump in June. Then, during mid-July to mid-August, the peak of the season, the monsoon showed signs of recovery and the rainfall amount increased. However, around the third week of August, there was a sudden steep decline in rainfall, which resulted in drought conditions. 

“The question was: why does the break occur this late in August?” says Jai Sukhatme, Associate Professor at CAOS and another author. “We tried to see if we could trace it back to a forcing agent or system that influences the behaviour over India. We looked at the winds that were prevalent in these non-El Niño drought years.”

That was when the researchers noticed an unusual atmospheric disturbance in the midlatitudes. It emerged from winds in the upper atmosphere interacting with a deep cyclonic circulation above abnormally cold North Atlantic waters. The resulting wave of air currents, called a Rossby wave, curved down from the North Atlantic, squeezed in by the Tibetan plateau, and hit the Indian subcontinent around mid-August, suppressing rainfall and throwing off the monsoon that was trying to recover from the June slump. The wave’s usual course is to go from west to east, but not towards the equator, explains Sukhatme. “This inward curving was the peculiar thing that we noticed during these particular years.” 

The findings underscore the importance of also considering influences on the Indian monsoon from outside the tropics, which current forecast models focus heavily on. “The Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean seem to be at the forefront of all discussions surrounding Indian monsoon droughts,” says Venugopal. “It is perhaps time to focus just as much on midlatitude influences, which might aid in getting a better handle on enhanced predictability of monsoon variability.” 


Spatial patterns of the build-up of rainfall deficit over 20-day time periods from June through September for the two kinds of Indian monsoon droughts: El Niño droughts (top six panels; (A)-(F)) and Non-El Niño droughts (bottom six panels; (G)-(L)). Comparing panels (J) and (K), one can see the abruptness and intensity of the late August rainfall deficit.

#Drought #CAOS