El Niño Resurfaces in the Pacific Ocean: NOAA Sounds the Alert
Why in news?
- According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), El Niño, the notorious climate pattern characterized by unusual warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, has made a comeback after a seven-year hiatus.
- Its resurgence has raised alarms due to the potential for severe heatwaves, floods, and droughts across the globe. Climate scientists, including Michelle L’Heureux from the Climate Prediction Center, warn that the strength of this El Niño event could heighten the risk of extreme weather conditions, necessitating vigilance and preparation.
NOAA(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- NOAA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, conducts scientific research and monitoring of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere.
- Its responsibilities include weather forecasting, monitoring oceanic and atmospheric conditions, exploring the deep sea, managing fishing activities, and protecting marine mammals and endangered species.
- NOAA provides services such as weather warnings and forecasts, collects data through observation networks, conducts research to understand Earth’s systems, assesses and predicts changes over time, engages with the public and partner organizations to share information, and acts as a custodian of environmental resources by promoting responsible use and protection.
About El Niño:
- El Niño, often dubbed as the “oceanic wild card,” is a climatic phenomenon that occurs every two to seven years in the Pacific Ocean.
- It manifests as a band of unusually warm water straddling the equator in the central and east-central Pacific.
- Normally, trade winds blow westward, transporting warm water from South America towards Asia during the neutral phase known as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
- However, during El Niño, these trade winds weaken or even reverse direction, causing warm water to accumulate in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and extend towards the western coast of America.
- Consequently, the affected regions experience higher-than-average sea surface temperatures.
Impact on Global Weather
Extreme Rainfall and Drought:
- El Niño can disrupt normal precipitation patterns, leading to both excessive rainfall and drought conditions in different parts of the world.
- Some regions, such as South America and Central America, may experience heavy rainfall, leading to flooding.
- Meanwhile, other areas, like Southeast Asia and Australia, may face reduced rainfall and prolonged droughts.
- El Niño events are often associated with intensified heatwaves in various regions.
- Elevated sea surface temperatures contribute to higher atmospheric temperatures, increasing the likelihood of heatwaves and heat-related health risks.
Tropical Cyclone Activity:
- El Niño’s influence on tropical cyclones varies across ocean basins.
- While it tends to suppress hurricane or typhoon formation in the eastern Pacific, it can enhance cyclone activity in the western Pacific, impacting areas like the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Fisheries and Ecosystem Disruption
- El Niño disrupts marine ecosystems, affecting fish populations and coral reefs.
- Changes in oceanic conditions can lead to altered nutrient availability, reduced upwelling, and coral bleaching events, posing significant challenges for fisheries and marine ecosystems.
- La Niña is a climate phenomenon characterized by below-average sea surface temperatures in the east-central Equatorial Pacific.
- It occurs when the water temperature in the Eastern Pacific becomes colder than normal, leading to a strong high-pressure system in that region.
- This phenomenon is associated with lower air pressure over the western Pacific, resulting in increased rainfall.
- La Niña events can cause above-average precipitation in southeastern Africa and northern Brazil, while also leading to drought conditions in parts of South America.
- La Niña can reduce the occurrence of hurricanes in Europe, bring milder winters to Northern Europe but colder winters to southern and western Europe with snowfall in the Mediterranean region.
- It can lead to stronger winds, favorable conditions for hurricanes, and increased tornado frequency in North America.
- In the Western Pacific, La Niña increases the potential for landfall in susceptible regions and contributes to heavy flooding, while warmer temperatures are observed in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and off the coast of Somalia.
GS PAPER – II
‘Har Ghar Jal’
Why in news?
- A recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) underscores the significant benefits of the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ program implemented by the Government of India. The report focuses on the program’s impact on public health and economic savings, emphasizing the role of safe drinking water in saving lives, empowering women and girls, and improving overall quality of life.
Positive Impacts on Public Health
- Averting Diarrheal Disease Deaths: The report states that ensuring safely managed drinking water for all households in India could prevent nearly 400,000 diarrheal disease deaths.
- Reduced Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs): Achieving universal coverage of safely managed drinking water is estimated to avert almost 14 million DALYs related to diarrheal diseases, resulting in substantial health improvements.
- Estimated Cost Savings: The report highlights potential cost savings of up to $101 billion by implementing universal coverage of safely managed drinking water, further highlighting the economic benefits of the program.
Commendation of the Program’s Scale and Speed
- Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, commends the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ program for its impressive scale and speed.
- The report mentions that a new water connection is being added every second, leading to transformative changes in public health in India.
Focus on Diarrheal Diseases
- The ‘Har Ghar Jal’ report emphasizes the urgent need to address diarrheal diseases due to their significant contribution to the overall disease burden related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues.
- The analysis highlights the potential for substantial gains in public health and economic well-being by tackling these diseases effectively.
Water Supply Challenges Before the Program
- The report highlights the challenges faced by the population regarding water supply before the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ program was launched.
- In 2018, 36% of India’s total population, including 44% of the rural population, lacked access to improved drinking-water sources on their premises.
Consequences of Unsafe Drinking Water
- Unsafe drinking water, along with inadequate sanitation and hygiene, contributed to 1.4 million deaths and 74 million DALYs globally in 2019, as per the report’s analysis.
- It underlines the severe health and societal consequences of consuming unsafe drinking water.
Importance of Women’s Time and Effort Savings
- The report highlights the significant time and effort saved for women and girls through the provision of tap water.
- Previously, women in India spent an average of 45.5 minutes daily collecting water for household needs.
- Universal coverage through tap water provision has resulted in substantial savings, eliminating the need for daily water collection efforts and empowering women.
- The WHO report on the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ program demonstrates its positive impacts on public health and economic savings. By addressing water supply challenges, the program has the potential to avert numerous diarrheal disease deaths, improve health outcomes, and save billions of dollars. Overall, the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ program showcases the importance of safe drinking water in transforming lives and contributing to sustainable development.
GS PAPER – III
India’s First Cannabis Research Project
Why in news?
India’s medical research sector is witnessing notable advancements, with the ‘Cannabis Research Project’ at CSIR-IIIM Jammu taking the lead. This pioneering project has the potential to produce high-quality medicines for conditions such as neuropathies, cancer, and epilepsy, according to Union Minister Jitendra Singh. The project is expected to foster investment opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir and contribute to the growth of scientific research in India.
Significance of the Cannabis Research Project
Promising Medicinal Applications: The project aims to explore the medicinal potential of cannabis in treating neuropathies, cancer, and epilepsy, offering new possibilities for effective treatment options.
Export Potential: Minister Jitendra Singh highlighted the project’s potential to develop medicines that can be exported, reducing dependence on foreign countries for such drugs.
Boost to Jammu and Kashmir: The project is expected to attract investments and contribute to the economic growth of the region.
Acknowledging CSIR-IIIM’s Contributions
Prestigious Research Institute: CSIR-IIIM is recognized as India’s oldest scientific research institute and has a rich history of groundbreaking discoveries, including the identification of mint in the 1960s.
Elevating Scientific Research: The Cannabis Research Project is expected to enhance the institute’s reputation in the field of scientific research in India.
Synergy between Research Institutions
Collaborative Approach: Minister Jitendra Singh emphasized the need for synergy among various institutions in Jammu, such as CSIR-IIIM, IIM, IIT, and AIIMS.
Leveraging Expertise: The Minister highlighted the importance of utilizing the specialized capabilities of these institutions, such as marketing strategies through IIM, clinical trials through AIIMS, and technical support through IIT.
Jammu as an Education Hub: The concentration of these prestigious institutions in Jammu positions the region as a prominent center for education in India.
- The initiation of India’s first Cannabis Research Project at CSIR-IIIM Jammu holds immense promise for advancing medicinal applications in the treatment of neuropathies, cancer, and epilepsy. The project’s potential to produce export-quality medicines and its role in attracting investments to Jammu and Kashmir signify a significant milestone in India’s medical research landscape. The collaborative efforts between institutions in Jammu are expected to yield fruitful outcomes and contribute to the overall growth of the region.