Flash-Cards-for-IAS-Prelims-2018-environ-Day-23
70 Days WAR Plan

Day#23 Static Flash Cards Environment & Ecology [70 Days WAR Plan]

Markhor species of wild goat; Biodiversity Latitudinal Gradients; Conservation of Biodiversity; Important sources of carbon dioxide; Algal bloom; Biodiversity hotspot; Depletion of Ozone Layer; Flue gases; Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD); ‘Blue Flag Certification’; Microfiber pollution
By IT's Core Team
April 13, 2019

 

 

 

Guppyfriend, Cora Ball, LUV-R are the products used to curb which pollution (a) Microfiber pollution OR (b) Radioactive pollution

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Answer:

  • Guppyfriend, Cora Ball, LUV-R are the products used to curb ‘microfiber’ pollution.

Enrich Your Leaning:

  • The innovative tools to keep tiny pieces of thread that are discharged with washing machine effluent from reaching marine life. Such “microfibres” are too small to be caught in conventional filters, so they eventually pass through sewage plants, wash out to waterways, and can be eaten or absorbed by marine animals, some of which are later served as seafood.

Why it is on hike?

  • The issue has become an increasing focus of environmental scientists seeking to find just how harmful microfibres are to coastal ecosystems, oceans and marine life and whether they affect human health.
  • The UN has identified microfibre pollution as a key outgrowth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced annually.
  • A study found that more than a gram of microfibres is released every time synthetic jackets are washed and that as much as 40% of those microfibres eventually enter waterways.
  • The aim is to improve the manufacturing process at every level in minimizing fiber shedding but also improving fabric construction.

 

 

 

What does ‘Blue Flag Certification’ refers to? And what are its objectives?

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Answer & Enrich Your Leaning:

  • Project Blue Flag was launched by union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, which is a pilot project to develop and enhance standards of cleanliness on beach.
  • Each state or union territory have to nominate a beach which will be funded through the ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Program.
  • The ‘Blue Flag’ is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or sustainable boating tourism operator, meets its stringent standards.
  • FEE’s Blue Flag criteria include standards for water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria.
  • The Blue Flag is sought for beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators as an indication of their high environmental and quality standards.

Objective of project Blue Flag:

  • Enhancing standards of cleanliness, upkeep and basic amenities at beaches
  • Each of the coastal State/UT was requested to identify/nominate a beach, to be funded through the ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Program.

 

 

 

What are Flue gases and Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD)?

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Answer:

  • Flue gas is the gas exiting to the atmosphere via a flue, which is a pipe or channel for conveying exhaust gases from a fireplace, oven, furnace, boiler or steam generator.
  • Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) is a set of technologies used to remove sulphur dioxide (SO2) from exhaust flue gases of fossil-fuel power plants, and from the emissions of other sulphur oxide emitting processes.

Enrich Your Leaning:

Flue Gas:

  • The flue gas refers to the combustion exhaust gas produced at power plants.
  • Its composition depends on what is being burned, but it will usually consist of mostly nitrogen derived from the combustion of air, carbon dioxide (CO2), and water vapor as well as excess oxygen (also derived from the combustion air).
  • It further contains a small percentage of a number of pollutants, such as particulate matter (like soot), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur oxides.
  • At power plants, flue gas is often treated with a series of chemical processes and scrubbers, which remove pollutants.
  • Electrostatic precipitators or fabric filters remove particulate matter and flue-gas desulfurization captures the sulphur dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels, particularly coal.

Common methods used Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD):

  • Wet scrubbing using a slurry of alkaline sorbent, usually limestone or lime, or seawater to scrub gases;
  • Spray-dry scrubbing using similar sorbent slurries;
  • Wet sulphuric acid process recovering sulphur in the form of commercial quality sulphuric acid;
  • SNOX Flue gas desulfurization removes sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates from flue gases;
  • Dry sorbent injection systems that introduce powdered hydrated lime (or other sorbent material) into exhaust ducts to eliminate SO2 and SO3 from process emissions.

 

 

 

What do you know about Markhor species of wild goat? Are they exclusively endemic to India?

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Answer & Enrich Your Leaning:

  • The markhor is an endangered species of wild goat that is natively found in the mountainous regions of western and central and Asia.
  • It is also known as the screw horn goat.
  • The markhor is found in northeastern Afghanistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hunza-Nagar Valley, northern and central Pakistan and the disputed territory of Kashmir, southern Tajikistan and southern Uzbekistan.
  • The markhor is most commonly found inhabiting the high-altitude monsoon forests that litter these areas.
  • The markhor is thought to have been named using the Persian word for snake, either because of the large coiled horns of the markhor or due to its ability to kill snakes in the wild, although the exact reason is unknown.
  • It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened since 2015.
  • It was one of the 72 animals featured on the WWF Conservation Coin Collection in 1976.
  • In British India, markhor were considered to be among the most challenging game species, due to the danger involved in stalking and pursuing them in high, mountainous terrain.

 

 

 

Nitric acid in polar stratospheric clouds reacts with Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to form what: Chlorine nitrate OR Chlorine?

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Answer:

  • Nitric acid in polar stratospheric clouds reacts with CFCs to form Chlorine.

Enrich Your Leaning:

About Depletion of Ozone Layer: 

  • In 1980s atmospheric scientists working in Antarctica reported about depletion of ozone layer commonly known as ozone hole over the South Pole.
  • It was found that a unique set of conditions was responsible for the ozone hole.
  • In summer season, nitrogen dioxide and methane react with chlorine monoxide and chlorine atoms forming chlorine sinks, preventing much ozone depletion, whereas in winter, special type of clouds called polar stratospheric clouds are formed over Antarctica.
  • These polar stratospheric clouds provide surface on which chlorine nitrate formed gets hydrolysed to form hypochlorous acid. It also reacts with hydrogen chloride produced to give molecular chlorine.
  • The nitric acid in polar stratospheric clouds reacts with CFCs to form chlorine, which catalyzes the photochemical destruction of ozone.
  • When sunlight returns to the Antarctica in the spring, the sun’s warmth breaks up the clouds and HOCl and Cl2 are photolysed by sunlight.
  • The chlorine radicals thus formed, initiate the chain reaction for ozone depletion as described earlier.

 

 

 

It is a Biodiversity hotspot. It has numerous endemic species. It is geologically young and shows high altitudinal variation. It is also home the only salamander species found within Indian limits. Which is that Indian hotspot?

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Answer:

  • Eastern Himalayas

Enrich Your Leaning:

About Biodiversity hotspot:

  • A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened with destruction. For example, forests are considered as biodiversity hotspots.
  • To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot on Myers 2000 edition of the hotspot-map, a region must meet two strict criteria:
  1. It must contain at least 0.5% or 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics, and
  2. It has to have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation.
  • Around the world, 36 areas qualify under this definition.
  • These sites support nearly 60% of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species, with a very high share of those species as endemics.

Biodiversity hotspot in India:

  • It hosts 2 biodiversity hotspots: the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas.
  • These hotspots have numerous endemic species.

The Eastern Himalayas:

  • The Eastern Himalayas is the region encompassing Bhutan, north-eastern India, and southern, central, and eastern Nepal.
  • The region is geologically young and shows high altitudinal variation.
  • It has nearly 163 globally threatened species including the one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), the Wild Asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis (Arnee)) and in all 45 mammals, 50 birds, 17 reptiles, 12 amphibians, 3 invertebrate and 36 plant species.
  • The relict dragonfly (Epiophlebia laidlawi) is an endangered species found here with the only other species in the genus being found in Japan.
  • The region is also home to the Himalayan newt (Tylototriton verrucosus), the only salamander species found within Indian limits.

The Western Ghats:

  • The Western Ghats are a chain of hills that run along the western edge of peninsular India.
  • Their proximity to the ocean and through orographic effect, they receive high rainfall. These regions have moist deciduous forest and rain forest.
  • The region shows high species diversity as well as high levels of endemism.
  • Nearly 77% of the amphibians and 62% of the reptile species found here are found nowhere else.
  • Along with Sri Lanka this region also shows some fauna similarities with the Madagascan region especially in the reptiles and amphibians.
  • Examples include the Sinophis snakes, the purple frog and Sri Lankan lizard genus Nessia which appears similar to the Madagascan genus Acontias.
  • Numerous floral links to the Madagascan region also exist.
  • Bio geographical quirks exist with some taxa of Malayan origin occurring in Sri Lanka but absent in the Western Ghats. These include insects groups such as the plants such as those of the genus Nepenthes.

 

 

 

 

Sea foam is harmful to humans and indicates gradual increase in destruction of ocean ecosystem. Do you agree?

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Answer:

  • No> Most sea foam is not harmful to humans and is often an indication of a productive ocean ecosystem.
  • Algal blooms are one common source of thick sea foams. When large blooms of algae decay offshore, great amounts of decaying algal matter often wash ashore. Foam forms as this organic matter is churned up by the surf. When large harmful algal blooms decay near shore, there are potential for impacts to human health and the environment.

Enrich Your Leaning:

About algal bloom:

  • Algal bloom is tremendous algal growth covering the pond surface
  • Presence of large amounts of nutrients in waters also causes excessive growth of planktonic (free-floating) algae, called an algal bloom.
  • It imparts a distinct colour to the water bodies.
  • Algal blooms cause deterioration of the water quality and fish mortality.
  • Some bloom-forming algae are extremely toxic to human beings and animals.
  • They grow abundantly in eutrophic water bodies, and lead to an imbalance in the ecosystem dynamics of the water body.
  • Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when groups of algae, which are simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.
  • Algea grow quickly when nutrients are present there. This justifies that discharge of nutrients favour algea growth from estuaries to sea. The run off the land during the monsoon bring salts which favours the development of algea. Emergence of the sea water from the sea flow brings the nutrients on tap level leading in fast algea proliferation.

 

 

 

What are the important sources of carbon dioxide?

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Answer & Enrich Your Leaning:

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the source of all carbon in both living organisms as well as in the fossils (used as fossil fuel). It is highly soluble in water. Oceans also contain large quantities of dissolved carbon dioxide and bicarbonates.

Photosynthesis:

  • Terrestrial and aquatic plants utilize CO2 for photosynthesis. Through this process the inorganic form of carbon is converted into organic matter in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll. The carbon dioxide is thus fixed and assimilated by plants. It is partly used by them for their own life processes and the rest is stored as their biomass which is available to the heterotrophs as food.

Respiration:

  • Respiration is a metabolic process reverse of photosynthesis in which food is oxidized to liberate energy (to perform the various life processes) and carbon dioxide and water. Thus the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere is recovered through this process.

Decomposition:

  • After the death of the organisms the decomposers break down the remaining dead organic matter and release the left over carbon back into the atmosphere.

Combustion:

  • Fossil fuel such as crude oil, coal, natural gas or heavy oils on burning releases carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.
  • Forests make a large amount of fossil fuel. Fossil fuel is product of complete or partial decomposition of plants and animals as a result of exposure to heat and pressure in the earth’s crust over millions of years.
  • Forests also act like carbon reservoirs as carbon fixed by them cycles very slowly due to their long life. They release CO2 by forest fires.

Impact of human activities:

  • Carbon dioxide is continuously increasing in the atmosphere due to human activities such as industrialization, urbanization and increased use of automobiles. This increase in atmospheric CO2 is bading to green house effect and global warming.

 

 

 

What are On site and Off site Conservations all about?

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Answer:

  • In-situ (on site) conservation includes the protection of plants and animals within their natural habitats or in protected areas.
  • Ex-situ (off site) conservation is the conservation of plants and animals outside their natural habitats.

Enrich Your Learning:

About Conservation of Biodiversity:

There are two basic strategies for conservation of biodiversity:

  • In-situ (on site) conservation includes the protection of plants and animals within their natural habitats or in protected areas. Protected areas are areas of land or sea dedicated to protection and maintenance of biodiversity. For example: e.g., National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Biosphere Reserves, etc.
  • Ex-situ (off site) conservation is the conservation of plants and animals outside their natural habitats. These include Botanical Gardens, Zoo, Gene Banks, DNA Banks, Seed Banks, Pollen Banks, Seedling and Tissue Culture etc.

 

 

 

What is latitudinal gradient in diversity?

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Answer:

  • The diversity of plants and animals is not uniform throughout the world but shows a rather uneven distribution. For many group of animals or plants, there are interesting patterns in diversity, the most well- known being the latitudinal gradient in diversity.

Enrich Your Leaning:

About Biodiversity Latitudinal Gradients:

  • In general, species diversity decreases as we move away from the equator towards the poles.
  • With very few exceptions, tropics (latitudinal range of 23.5° N to 23.5° S) harbour more species than temperate or polar areas.
  • Colombia located near the equator has nearly 1,400 species of birds while New York at 41° N has 105 species and Greenland at 71° N only 56 species.
  • India, with much of its land area in the tropical latitudes, has more than 1,200 species of birds.
  • A forest in a tropical region like Equador has up to 10 times as many species of vascular plants as a forest of equal area in a temperate region like the Midwest of the USA.
  • The largely tropical Amazonian rain forest in South America has the greatest biodiversity on earth- it is home to more than 40,000 species of plants, 3,000 of fishes, 1,300 of birds, 427 of mammals, 427 of amphibians, 378 of reptiles and of more than 1,25,000 invertebrates.
  • Scientists estimate that in these rain forests there might be at least two million insect species waiting to be discovered and named.

Ecologists and evolutionary biologists have proposed various hypotheses; some important ones are

  • Speciation is generally a function of time, unlike temperate regions subjected to frequent glaciations in the past, tropical latitudes have remained relatively undisturbed for millions of years and thus, had a long evolutionary time for species diversification,
  • Tropical environments, unlike temperate ones, are less seasonal, relatively more constant and predictable. Such constant environments promote niche specialisation and lead to a greater species diversity and
  • There is more solar energy available in the tropics, which contributes to higher productivity; this in turn might contribute indirectly to greater diversity.