Image Credit: Natural History Museum
Current Affairs Analysis

10th & 11th November 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

What is Pliosaur? Fordow plant; Iran 2015 nuclear deal; International Atomic Energy Agency; National Highway-766; Bandipur National Park; Minimum age for marriage; Draft Social Security Code; Difference between EPFO and ESIC; Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019; What is Anaemia? What is lightening? How does a Lightning strikes? What is Harmonised System Code? Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC); Fall Armyworm (FAW); Increased Cyclonic phenomenon in Indian Ocean; Zero Carbon bill; Zero carbon; Iran's south western province of Khuzestan; INS Baaz; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
November 11, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Khadi gets separate HS code

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Lift travel curbs on NH 766, says Kerala
  • Standing Committee invites views, suggestions on OSH Code

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Anaemia among men; how it varies among age groups, states
  • Attack of Fall Armyworm controlled in Odisha

Social Issues

  • Study moots lowering the age of consent
  • Centre gets responses to draft Social Security code

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Scientists call for action on climate
  • New Zealand Passes Zero Carbon Bill Aimed at Combating Climate Change

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Fordow plant

Defence & Security Issues

  • What is INS Baaz, and why is it important?

Geophysical Phenomena

  • First report by IMD on total lightning strikes across the country
  • 2019 set to be record-breaking cyclone year for India

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Iran finds new oilfield with 53 billion barrels
  • What is Pliosaur?

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Polity & Governance

Khadi gets separate HS code

Khadi has been allocated a separate HS code or harmonised system code by the commerce and industry ministry which is expected to boost its exports in the coming years.

Khadi-gets-separate-HS-code

What is Harmonised System Code?

  • Harmonised system (HS) is a six-digit identification code developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
  • Of the six digits, the first two denote the HS Chapter, the next two give the HS heading, and the last two give the HS subheading.
  • The system currently comprises of around 5,000 commodity groups, each identified by a unique six-digit code that has numbers arranged in a legal and logical structure.
  • It is called the “universal economic language” for goods and it is a multipurpose international product nomenclature.
  • Over 200 countries use the system as a basis for their customs tariffs, gathering international trade statistics, making trade policies, and for monitoring goods.
  • The custom officers use this code to clear every commodity that enters or crosses any international border.

Harmonised System Code

  • For example, The HS code for pineapple, for example, is 0804.30, which means it belongs to Chapter 08 (Edible fruit & nuts, peel of citrus/melons), Heading 04 (Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, etc. fresh or dried), and Subheading 30 (Pineapples).

What were the disadvantage for Khadi not having HS code?

  • All the data regarding export of Khadi fabric used to come as a normal fabric under the textile head.
  • Its exports were difficult to categorise and calculate without a HS code.

What are the advantages for Khadi having HS code now?

  • The officials will be able to keep a constant eye not only on our export figures.
  • It will also help in planning the export strategies of Khadi.
  • The system will help in harmonising of customs and trade procedures for Khadi, thus reducing costs in international trade.

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)

Khadi-and-Village-Industries-product

  • It is a Statutory body formed by the Government of India under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’. 
  • It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.

What is Khadi?

Khadi-gets-separate-HS-code-2

  • It refers to hand-spun and hand-woven cloth.
  • The raw materials may be cotton, silk, or wool, which are spun into threads on a Charkha.

Variety of Khadi:

  • Silk Khadi raw materials: West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, North Eastern States.
  • Cotton Khadi raw materials: Andhra Pradesh, UP, Bihar and West Bengal
  • Woolen Khadi: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Karnataka
  • Poly Khadi: Gujarat and Rajasthan
[Ref: Business Standard, Indian Express]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Lift travel curbs on NH 766, says Kerala

The Assembly of Kerala passed a resolution demanding the Union government to lift the travel restrictions on National Highway-766 linking Kerala and Karnataka and safeguard the right of the people of north Kerala to move freely.

National-Highway-766

Background

NH-766

  • In 2009, the Chamarajanagar district in Karnataka banned night traffic on NH 766 which passes through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve due to large number of animals being hit by vehicles at night. Hence, using the central Motor Vehicle Act, the district administration banned traffic in night.
  • However, Chamarajanagar lifted the ban on protest. In 2010, the Karnataka court upheld the night traffic ban by pointing to an alternative road which increase the distance by 35 km. As a result, the Kerala government moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court.
  • Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the night traffic ban, which was supported by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu while Kerala wanted it lifted.

What does the resolution say?

  • It mentions that the NH 766 is a survival route for the people of Wayanad which lacks rail and connectivity and water routes.
  • The NH-766 is also an important route for the transportation of vegetables, grain and construction materials between the two States.
  • Imposing regulations, the likes of which are absent in any of the 50 tiger reserves in India, is anti-people and discriminatory.

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur-National-Park

  • It is located in the Mysore & Chamarajanagar districts of Karnataka.
  • Itwas declared a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger in the year of 1973.
  • The Reserve declared as a National park in 1974.
  • Together with the adjoining Nagarhole National park in North, Mudumalai National park in Tamil Nadu, and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, Bandipur National Park creates the India’s biggest biosphere reserve popularly known as the ‘Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve’.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has taken into consideration the area of Nilgiri Sub-Cluster along with Bandipur National Park and Western Ghats to select it as a World Heritage Site.
  • It is one of the finest habitats of the Asian elephant.
  • The Nugu river runs through the park.

Key Fact

  • Karnataka is the state with the second highest tiger population in India.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

 

Standing Committee invites views, suggestions on OSH Code

The Standing Committee of Labour has invited views and suggestions from the public and stakeholders on the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH) Code.

OCCUPATIOAL_SAFETY

What is the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019?

  • A code which aims to replace 13 labour laws relating to safety, health and working conditions, including the Factories Act, 1948, the Mines Act, 1952, and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.

Key Provisions:

  • The OSH Code applies to establishments employing at least 10 workers, and to all mines and docks. It does not apply to apprentices.
  • Proposes one registration for an establishment, one licence and one return instead of multiple registrations, licenses and returns to be filed earlier.
  • Special provisions for certain types of establishments and classes of employees, such as factories, mines, and building and construction workers.
  • Additionally, the government may require certain establishments to set up safety committees comprising representatives of employers and workers. Central and state governments will set up Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Boards at the national and state level, respectively. These Boards will advise the central and state governments on the standards, rules, and regulations to be framed under the Code.

To the Employers

To the Employees

·         The Code specifies several duties of employers. These include:

o   providing a workplace that is free from hazards that may cause injury or diseases, and

o   providing free annual health examinations to employees, as prescribed.  In case of an accident at the workplace that leads to death or serious bodily injury of an employee, the employer must inform the relevant authorities.

o   The employer is required to provide a hygienic work environment with ventilation, comfortable temperature and humidity, sufficient space, clean drinking water, and latrine and urinal accommodations

o   No employee may work for more than six days a week.

 

 

·         Duties of employees under the Code include:

o   Taking care of their own health and safety,

o   Complying with the specified safety and health standards, and reporting unsafe situations to the inspector.

o   Every employee will have the right to obtain from the employer information related to safety and health standards. 

·         Women, after their consent, would be permitted to work beyond 7 pm and before 6 am subject to the safety, holidays, working hours or any other condition as prescribed by the state or the central government.

 

[Ref: Indian Express, PRSIndia]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Anaemia among men; how it varies among age groups, states

A recent study published in The Lancet Global Health, has found that nearly quarter of the men in India in the age group 15-24 had some form of anaemia.

anaemia-4

What is Anaemia?

Anaemia

The World Health Organization defines anaemia as a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet physiological needs.

Factors of Anaemia:

  • Consuming smokeless tobacco,
  • being underweight,
  • level of urbanisation and household wealth are associated with a higher probability of developing the disease.

Impacts of Anaemia:

Anaemia in men can cause

  • fatigue,
  • lethargy,
  • creates difficulty in concentrating.

Anaemia in men can cause

What did the study find?

  • Men in the group 20-34 years had the lowest probability of having anaemia.
  • Actual prevalence was lowest in the age group 50-54, at 7.8%.
  • Among men, 21.7% suffered from moderate or severe anaemia, while among women 53.2% suffered from moderate or severe anaemia.

Which Regions in India?

Anaemia-2

[Ref: Indian Express, The Hindu]

 

Attack of Fall Armyworm controlled in Odisha

Proper precaution and timely management by the state agriculture department and awareness among farmers have succeeded in thwarting an attack by the Fall Armyworm (FAW) on maize crop in Odisha.

Fall-Armyworm-controlled-in-Odisha Current Affairs Analysis

Fall Armyworm

Fall-Armyworm

  • The Fall Armyworm (FAW) or Spodoptera frugiperda is a pest damaging the crops.
  • It is a native of the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Americas.
  • It is first detected in the African continent in 2016. Since then, it has spread to other countries such as China, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
  • It was reported in India for the first time last year, when it affected crops in Karnataka.
  • Within a span of only six months, almost 50 per cent of the country, including Mizoram, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal, has reported FAW infestations.

Life cycle of Fall Armyworm

Fall-Armyworm-1

  • In its 45-day-long lifecycle, the female moth of this pest lays around 1,500-2,000 eggs on the top of leaves.
  • In the roughly 30-day larval stage, the caterpillar goes through six stages of development or instars.
  • This is the most dangerous part of the lifecycle as the caterpillar feeds on leaves, whorls, stalks and flowers of crop plants.
  • Once this stage is completed, the growing moth pupates in the soil — for 8-9 days in summer and 20-30 days in cold weather.
  • The nocturnal egg-laying adults live for about 10 days, during which they migrate long distances.

What makes it dangerous?

  • The polyphagous makes it dangerous. The Polyphagous means the ability to feed on different kinds of food.
  • Another thing that meakes it dangerous is the ability of the adult moth to fly more than 100 km per night.
  • Given its ability to feed on multiple crops — nearly 80 different crops ranging from maize to sugarcane — FAW can attack multiple crops. Similarly, it can spread across large tracts of land as it can fly over large distances. This explains the quick spread of the pest across India.

Which crop has been affected most by this pest?

  • Maize has been the worst affected as most maize-growing states in southern India have been affected by the pest.
  • Maize is the third most important cereal crop grown in the countryand the infestation, if not checked in time, can wreck havoc.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Social Issues

Study moots lowering the age of consent

A new study calls for a need to distinguish between self-arranged marriages among older adolescents and forced child marriages to protect teens from social stigma, parental backlash and punitive action.

Study-moots-lowering-the-age-of-consent

Key findings of the report:

  1. The study makes a case for an age of consent that is lower than the age of marriage to decriminalise sex among consenting older adolescents to protect them from the misuse of law for enforcing parental and caste controls over daughters.
  2. It also demanded uniform age for marriage.
  3. The study also records that while girls face restrictions on their mobility, premarital relations and sexuality, the same was not true for boys of the same social milieu who enjoyed greater freedom.
  4. The study again provides evidence of the misuse of POCSO, which raised the age of consent from 16 to 18 years. Activists have long argued that this would result in adolescents being wrong

What is the current scenario?

  • Minimum age of marriage is 21 for men and 18 for women. And is distinct from age of majority, which is 18.

Why minimum age was prescribed?

To outlaw child marriages and prevent abuse of minors.

But Marriages are influenced by personal laws of various religions also.

  • For Hindus, Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom. However, Child marriages are not illegal but can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
  • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid under personal law.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.

Evolution of the Law:

Evolution of the Law

Factors:

  • Different standards from the age of men and women are rooted in patriarchy.
  • Prevalence of a stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands.

Impact:

  • Law perpetuates the stereotype that women are more mature than men of the same age and therefore can be allowed to marry sooner.
  • Moreover, it violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to equality and the right to live with dignity, are violated by having different legal age for men and women to marry.

For couples who are younger than 18,

  • Face Parental backlash and are affected from social stigma.
  • Enforcing parental and caste controls over daughters.
  • Are terrorised by the threat of caste violence.
  • The boy being booked for rape under POCSO and abduction with the intent to marry under IPC or the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act.
  • Adolescents being wrongfully targeted for consensual sexual relationship

Solution:

  • Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), calls for the abolition of laws that assume women have a different physical or intellectual rate of growth than men.
  • According to the Law Commission, minimum age of marriage for both genders be set at 18. Because “The difference in age for husband and wife has no basis in law as spouses entering into a marriage are by all means equals and their partnership must also be of that between equals”.
  • In 2014, in National Legal Services Authority of India v Union of India, the Supreme Court while recognising transgenders as the third gender said that justice is delivered with the “assumption that humans have equal value and should, therefore, be treated as equal, as well as by equal laws.”
  • In 2019, in Joseph Shine v Union of India, the Supreme Court decriminalised adultery and said that “a law that treats women differently based on gender stereotypes is an affront to women’s dignity.
  • There is a need to distinguish between self-arranged marriages among older adolescents and forced child marriages.

[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

Centre gets responses to draft Social Security code

The Government has invited public suggestions for the draft social security code 2018.

Centre-gets-responses-to-draft-Social-Security-code

About the Draft Social Security Code:

  • The draft code on social security aims to simplify, rationalise and consolidate eight existing laws covering provident fund, maternity benefits and pension, is being further worked upon.
  • Ultimately making fragmented laws less complex, easier for comprehend, implement and enforce.

Key Provisions:

  • Insurance, PF, life cover for unorganized sector employees:
    • Central Government shall formulate and notify, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on the matters relating to life and disability cover; health and maternity benefits; old age protection; and any other benefit as may be determined by the central government.
  • The corporatisation of Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC):
    • EPFO and ESIC organisations would be headed by a central government-appointed chairman which is currently headed by labour minister chaired the central board of trustees. Additionally, EPFO and ESIC will be a body corporate. The EPFO may become a more structured national body.
  • Benefits for Gig Workers:
    • Gig workers would get life and disability insurance, health and maternity benefits among others. These benefits would be determined by the Central Government,
  • Maternity Benefit:
    • Every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence.

Existing labour laws that the code will merge:

  • The Code on Social Security, 2019 once in place will merge eight existing labour laws including Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923; Employees ‘State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees ‘Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981; Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers ‘Social Security Act, 2008.

Difference between EPFO and ESIC:

ESIC

 

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Scientists call for action on climate

More than 11,000 scientists have co-signed a letter in the journal BioScience, calling for urgently necessary action on climate.

11,000-scientists-warn-Climate-change-isn’t-just-about-temperature-1

  • Climate Change is more than rise in global temperature.

Responsible Factors:

  • Increases in human and ruminant populations,
  • global tree cover loss,
  • fossil fuel consumption and fuel subsidies
  • number of plane passengers, and carbon dioxide emissions.

Impacts of Climate Change:

  • Sea ice is rapidly disappearing,
  • While ocean heat, ocean acidity, sea level, and frequency of extreme weather events are all trending upwards.
  • Risk of making more regions of Earth uninhabitable.

Impacts-of-Climate-Change

Solutions:

To Governments

To Citizens

·         prioritise energy efficiency, and replace fossil fuels with low-carbon renewable energy sources,

·         reduce emissions of short-lived pollutants like methane and soot,

·         protect and restore the Earth’s ecosystems by curbing land clearing,

·         reduce our meat consumption,

·         move away from unsustainable ideas of ever-increasing economic and resource consumption, and

·         stabilise and ideally, gradually reduce human populations while improving human well-being.

·         National governments to report on status, magnitude and impact of climate change.

 

·         by reducing meat consumption,

·          voting for political parties and members of government bodies who have clear climate change policies,

·         rejecting fossil fuels using renewable and clean sources of energy, r

·         educing car and air travel, and joining citizen movements.

 

 

[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

New Zealand Passes Zero Carbon Bill Aimed at Combating Climate Change

The Zero Carbon bill aims to make New Zealand reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to the point the country becomes mostly carbon neutral by 2050.

New-Zealand-Passes-Zero-Carbon-Bill

The Zero Carbon bill:

Zero-Carbon-bill

  • The bill aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to become mostly carbon neutral country.
  • The bill would require all greenhouse gases except methane from animals to be reduced to net zero by 2050.
  • Methane emissions would be reduced by 10% by 2030 and by between about one-quarter and one-half by 2050.
  • Targets for methane reduction reflect that it stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide.

Zero carbon:

  • Carbon neutrality or Zero carbon refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether.
  • It is used in the context of carbon dioxide-releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, agriculture, and industrial processes.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Fordow plant

Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow plant south of Tehran in a new step back from its commitments under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Fordow plant

Iran 2015 nuclear deal

Iran-2015-nuclear-deal

  • In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.
  • Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Background

  • In Iran nuclear deal of 2015, Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment at the Fordo plant in return for the lifting of sanctions.
  • Uranium enrichment is the sensitive process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also produces the fissile core for a warhead.
  • Iran insisted that its nuclear programme was entirely peaceful, but the international community did not believe that.
  • Hence, in May 2018, US abandoned the landmark Iran deal and reinstated sanctions targeting Iran. This led to a downturn in Iran’s economy. So in May 2019, Iran suspended all commitments under the Iran nuclear deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency

The International Atomic Energy Agency

  • It is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field.
  • It was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears generated by the diverse uses of nuclear technology.
  • It was set up as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization within the United Nations.
  • India has been a member of IAEA since its inception in 1957.

To know more about Iran Nuclear deal, refer to IAStopper’s Main’s Article here: https://www.iastoppers.com/iran-nuclear-deal-mains-article/

Key Facts

  • Uranium enrichment is the sensitive process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also, in highly extended form, the fissile core for a warhead.
  • 90% uranium enrichment level is required for a nuclear warhead.

[Ref: The Hindu, BBC]

 

Defence & Security Issues

What is INS Baaz, and why is it important?

INS Baaz is the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces.

INS_Baaz

INS Baaz:

The-Andaman-Nicobar-Islands

  • INS Baaz is located at Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar island which is the largest island of the Nicobar island in the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • INS Baaz was made in July 2012.
  • The primary functions of the INS Baaz include helping build Maritime Domain Awareness by providing information via airborne surveillance using aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Importance:

  • The INS Baaz is important for India’s national security as they provide a critical capability to monitor sea areas in the region.
  • The location has been described as India’s “window into East and Southeast Asia”.
  • It is in close vicinity of the Six Degree Channel which is one of the Indian Ocean’s busiest shipping lines carrying strategic cargo to East Asian countries.
  • It helps to ensure maritime security in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, and substantially enhances the Indian Navy’s maritime surveillance capability
  • This island is also the location of the Indira Point and is less than 250 km by sea from Banda Aceh in Indonesia. It is also close to the Strait of Malacca.
  • The base also assists the local populace in times of need such as facilitating evacuation during medical emergencies.
  • It is a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-services formation of the Indian Armed Forces that was started in 2001.

[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Geophysical Phenomena

First report by IMD on total lightning strikes across the country

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has released a report for the first time revealing the data on total lightning strikes across the country.

lightning

  • The report has been prepared as part of a three-year study period under Lightning Resilient India campaign.
  • The data has been collected for the months of April till July and has been compiled by IMD’s Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROSPC).
  • The Met department started lightning forecast from April 1 this year by integrating inputs from Indian Air Force sensors, IITM Pune’s sensors network and INSAT-3D.

Key Findings of the report

  • With 9 lakh lightning strikes between April 1 and July 31 this year, Odisha recorded the highest number of lightning strikes in the country, while Jammu and Kashmir recorded the least with about 20,000 strikes.
  • The most number of deaths due to lightning strikes were reported from Uttar Pradesh.
  • The highest intensity lightning strikes were observed in Chhotanagpur plateau in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.
  • During Cyclone Fani, over 1 lakh intense lightning strikes hit Odisha between May 3 and 4.
  • The number of lightning days (number of days when lightning strikes happened) across India has been increasing every month.
  • July witnessed the highest number of lightning days, especially in the latter half due to the onset of monsoon. 

How dangerous is lightening?

  • Lightning is the biggest contributor to accidental deaths due to natural causes.
  • Several thousand thunderstorms occur over India every year. Each can involve several — sometimes more than a hundred — lightning strikes.
  • It is the least Studied atmospheric phenomena in the country.
  • Just one group of scientists, at the Indian Institute of Tropical Management (IITM) in Pune, works full-time on thunderstorms and lightning.

What is lightening?

Odisha-recorded-9-lakh-lightning-strikes-this-year

  • Lightning is a very rapid — and massive — discharge of electricity in the atmosphere, some of which is directed towards the Earth’s surface.
  • These discharges are generated in giant moisture-bearing clouds that are 10-12 km tall. 

How does a Lightning strikes?

  • The moisture bearing clouds where lightening generates are 10-12 km tall. The base of these clouds lies within 1-2 km of the Earth’s surface while their top is 12-13 km away.
  • Temperatures towards the top of these clouds are in the range of minus 35 to minus 45 degrees Celsius.
  • As water vapour moves upward in the cloud, the falling temperature causes it to condense and heat is generated in the process, which pushes the molecules of water further up.
  • As the water vapour move to temperatures below zero degrees celsius, the water droplets change into small ice crystals.
  • The water vapours continue to move up, gathering mass — until they are so heavy that they start to fall to Earth. This leads to a system in which, simultaneously, smaller ice crystals are moving up and bigger crystals are coming down.
  • Collisions follow, and trigger the release of electrons — a process that is very similar to the generation of sparks of electricity. As the moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, a chain reaction ensues.
  • This process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged, while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • The electrical potential difference between the two layers is huge — of the order of a billion to 10 billion volts. In very little time, a massive current, of the order of 100,000 to a million amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
  • An enormous amount of heat is produced, and this leads to the heating of the air column between the two layers of the cloud.
  • This heat gives the air column a reddish appearance during lightning. As the heated air column expands, it produces shock waves that result in thunder.

How does a Lightning strikes

Source: slideplayer.com

 

How does this current reach the Earth from the cloud?

  • While the Earth is a good conductor of electricity, it is electrically neutral. However, in comparison to the middle layer of the cloud, it becomes positively charged. As a result, about 15%-20% of the current gets directed towards the Earth as well. It is this flow of current that results in damage to life and property on Earth.

Why there is a probability of lightening striking tall objects?

  • Tall objects such as trees, towers or buildings face greater threat of being striked by lightning.
  • Once it is about 80-100 m from the surface, lightning tends to change course towards these taller objects. This happens because air is a poor conductor of electricity, and electrons that are travelling through air seek both a better conductor and the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.

Why there is a probability of lightening striking tall objects

[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

2019 set to be record-breaking cyclone year for India

Cyclone Bulbul is the seventh cyclone of 2019 which brings the total number of cyclones in 2019 at par with the year 2018 and it is very likely this number will surpass the last year’s numbers.

2019-set-to-be-record-breaking-cyclone-year-for-India

  • Last year, the country broke its 33-year record, after having been hit by seven cyclones.    
  • 2018 surpassed the Long-Period average (LPA) of cyclonic disturbances over North Indian Ocean areas.
  • The last such development of seven cyclones in a year occurred in 1985 (33 years back).

Increased Cyclonic phenomenon in Indian Ocean

  • The severe cyclone frequency in the north Indian Ocean (the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) has registered about a three-fold increase during the past decades.
  • The number of severe cyclone to form every year during the intense cyclonic period (May, October and November) has now gone up to about three per year.

Cyclones of this year

  • Cyclone Bulbul is the seventh cyclone and also is the second storm to form in the Bay of Bengal.
  • The extremely severe cyclone Fani arrived in April- May before Bulbul.
  • The cyclone Maha originated in Arabian Sea.
  • In the Indian Ocean region, cyclones Bulbul and Maha came in quick succession after super cyclone Kyarr which was the first in the region after the Odisha super cyclone of 1999.
  • The Arabian sea, usually not known to be prone to cyclones, has had four major cyclones this year — very severe cyclone Vayu, very severe cyclone Hikaa, super cyclone Kyarr and extremely severe cyclone Maha. This equals the record for the highest number of severe cyclones in the Arabian sea in the last 117 years.

Cyclones around world in 2019

  • Super typhoon Halong in the western north Pacific Ocean which is the strongest storms to have been observed since the beginning of the satellite era in 1979.
  • Tropical storm Nakri in the West Philippine Sea.
  • A trend also observed globally this year with humongous storm systems like Hurricane Dorian, Typhoon Hagibis and Hurricane Lorenzo.

[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Iran finds new oilfield with 53 billion barrels

Iran has discovered a new oil field located in Iran’s south western province of Khuzestan with over 53 billion barrels of crude.

Iran-finds-new-oilfield-with-53-billion-barrels

Key Facts:

  • Iran currently has the world’s fourth-largest proven deposits of crude oil and the world’s second-largest deposits of natural gas.
  • It shares a massive offshore field in the Persian Gulf with Qatar.
  • The new oil field could become Iran’s second-largest field after Ahvaz.
  • Venezuela is largest proven deposits of crude oil in the world followed by the Saudi Arabia and Canada.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

What is Pliosaur?

Recently of pliosaur bones are discovered in a cornfield in the Polish village of Krzyzanowice at Swietokrzyskie Mountains.

pliosaur-1

About Pliosaur:

  • The largest aquatic carnivorous reptiles are often called “sea monsters” which are scientifically placed in the suborder pliosauroidea whose members are called pliosaurs.
  • Pliosaur is a group of large carnivorous marine reptiles characterized by massive heads, short necks, and streamlined tear-shaped bodies.

pliosaur

  • Pliosaurs have been found as fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
  • The locality where the pliosaurs were discovered is considered to be rich in the fossils of coastal reptiles.
  • In the Jurassic era, the Swietokrzyskie Mountains area is believed to have been an archipelago of islands, where there were warm lagoons and shallow sea reservoirs were home to the marine reptiles.

[Ref: Indian Express]

 

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