- CURRENT AFFAIRS – 22/08/2023
- Tropical Storm Hilary
- Gene-edited mustard: Less pungent, more useful
- Coastal raptors make power towers their home
- Far Side Area of the Moon
- Digital Divide in Tribal Colonies in Kerala
- The Saudi Arabia-UAE divide
- Drilling in the North Sea — history and environmental concerns
- Ecuadorians reject oil drilling in the Amazon
CURRENT AFFAIRS – 22/08/2023
Tropical Storm Hilary
(General Studies- Paper I)
Source : The Indian Express
Tropical Storm Hilary struck Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula with deadly floodwaters before moving over Southern California.
- This was the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, causing flash floods, mudslides, high winds, power outages, and the potential for tornadoes.
- Unusual Hurricane Impact on West Coast
- The U.S. west coast rarely experiences hurricanes; instead, hurricanes mostly impact the east coast.
- Hurricane Hilary’s approach toward Southern California and Mexico is exceptional due to its unusual west coast trajectory.
- Past instances of tropical storms impacting California have typically remained offshore and weakened before making landfall.
- Historical Rarity and Anticipation
- Hurricanes have historically been infrequent on the U.S. west coast.
- Tijuana, Mexico, with its hilly terrain, dense population, and infrastructure vulnerabilities, faces significant risks of landslides and flooding.
- Unprecedented Rainfall and Challenges
- Hurricane Hilary’s impact may bring unusually heavy rainfall, causing potential flooding and landslides.
- The storm’s impact could disrupt communications, power supply, and general infrastructure.
- Authorities urge people to stock up on essentials, maintain fuel for generators, and use sandbags for window protection.
- Rare Occurrence Explained
- Ocean Temperature Conditions:
- Hurricanes require ocean waters to be above 26 degrees Celsius for formation.
- The U.S. east coast experiences warm ocean temperatures due to the Gulf Stream transporting equatorial waters northward.
- In contrast, the U.S. west coast is influenced by cold currents that bring colder water from higher latitudes to equatorial regions.
- This cold water lowers the chances of hurricane formation along the Pacific coast.
Reduces the chances of formation of Hurricanes on the west coast.
Vertical Wind Shear:
- Vertical wind shear refers to changes in wind speed with altitude.
- Hurricanes extend high into the atmosphere, and strong upper-level winds can disrupt their structure.
- When upper-level winds displace warm air above the storm’s eye and limit vertical ascent, hurricanes struggle to form or maintain their structure.
- The eastern Pacific typically experiences stronger wind shear compared to the Gulf of Mexico, making hurricanes less frequent along the U.S. west coast.
Wind Steering Patterns:
- Trade winds are vital for steering hurricanes.
- On the U.S. east coast, trade winds guide hurricanes toward the coast.
- However, these winds divert hurricanes away from the U.S. west coast.
- Hurricanes that originate in the eastern Pacific near central Mexico follow a west-northwest trajectory, moving away from the coast.
Climate Change Influence
- Climate change contributes to increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes.
- Rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change make hurricanes more intense by facilitating stronger evaporation and heat transfer.
What is a Hurricane?
- A hurricane is a powerful tropical cyclone characterized by strong winds, heavy rainfall, and low atmospheric pressure.
- It is a type of storm that forms over warm ocean waters in tropical and subtropical regions.
- Hurricanes are known by different names in various parts of the world.
- For example, they are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, typhoons in the western Pacific, and cyclones in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific.
Key features of hurricanes include:
- Eye: The center of a hurricane is called the “eye.”
- It is a relatively calm and clear area with light winds.
- The eye is surrounded by a circular wall of clouds called the eyewall.
- Eyewall: This is the region surrounding the eye where the strongest winds and heaviest rainfall occur.
- It is the most intense part of the storm.
- Spiral Bands:
- These are bands of clouds that spiral outward from the centre of the storm.
- They contain rain and gusty winds.
- Storm Surge:
- Hurricanes often cause a significant rise in sea levels along coastal areas due to strong winds and low pressure.
- This surge of water can result in flooding and coastal erosion.
- Rainfall: Hurricanes can produce extremely heavy rainfall, leading to widespread flooding and landslides.
- Wind Speeds: Hurricanes are classified based on their sustained wind speeds.
- The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes hurricanes from Category 1 (weakest) to Category 5 (strongest), with increasing wind speeds and potential for damage.
- Formation: Hurricanes form over warm ocean waters when the sea surface temperature is at least 26.5 degrees Celsius (about 80 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher.
- Warm, moist air rises from the ocean’s surface, creating an area of low pressure.
- As the warm air rises, it cools and condenses, releasing latent heat and causing the air to rise faster.
- This process fuels the storm’s growth.
- Dissipation: Hurricanes lose their energy source when they move over cooler waters or land.
- They gradually weaken as they move away from warm ocean areas.
- Interaction with land masses, wind shear, and other atmospheric conditions also contribute to a hurricane’s dissipation.
Gene-edited mustard: Less pungent, more useful
(General Studies- Paper III and IV)
Source : The Indian Express
Oilseeds, such as rapeseed-mustard, yield oil and protein-rich meal after oil extraction, used in livestock and poultry feed.
- Rapeseed-mustard is India’s primary domestically-grown oilseed, and its meal is utilized for animal feed.
- Challenges of Glucosinolates:
- Rapeseed-mustard seeds have glucosinolates, causing pungency in oil and meal.
- Glucosinolates also make meal unpalatable for livestock, affecting feed intake and causing health issues.
- Efforts have been made to breed low-glucosinolate mustard varieties, but vulnerabilities to pests and diseases have limited their cultivation.
- Canola-Quality Mustard Breeding:
- Scientists have bred mustard lines with low glucosinolate content similar to canola-quality rapeseed.
- However, these lines face pest and disease vulnerabilities due to reduced glucosinolates, which act as plant defenses.
- Gene Editing Breakthrough:
- Researchers edited 10 out of 12 GTR genes responsible for glucosinolate transport in Indian mustard variety ‘Varuna.’
- Using CRISPR/Cas9, they created mutations in these genes, rendering their encoded proteins non-functional.
- Resultant mustard seeds had low glucosinolate content while other parts had higher levels, enhancing plant defense.
- Defense Response and Resistance Testing:
- The edited mustard lines demonstrated resistance against fungal pathogen and insect pest, comparable to wild-type mustard.
- Higher glucosinolate accumulation in leaves and pod walls, due to impaired transport to seeds, played a role.
- Differentiating Gene Editing and Genetic Modification:
- The new mustard lines are genome edited (GE), not genetically modified (GM).
- Unlike GM crops, GE lines are transgene-free, containing no foreign genes.
- Importance and Future Plans:
- India heavily imports edible oils, with over 60% of consumption requirements met through imports.
- Mustard is a significant oilseed crop with potential to reduce oil import dependency.
- Low-seed high-leaf glucosinolate mustard lines are promising for domestic oilseed production improvement.
- Regulatory Considerations:
- In India, GM crops face strict regulations for environmental release and commercial cultivation.
- GE mustard lines, being transgene-free, are subject to less stringent regulations, potentially facilitating field trials and release.
- Open field trials of the new GE mustard lines are planned for the upcoming planting season.
What is Genome editing?
- Genome editing refers to the precise modification of an organism’s DNA at specific locations within its genome.
- GE crops are plants whose genetic material has been altered using advanced molecular techniques to achieve desired traits.
- One of the most widely used genome editing techniques is CRISPR/Cas9, which acts as molecular scissors to cut the DNA at precise locations.
- This allows for the addition, deletion, or modification of specific DNA sequences within the plant’s genome.
- The goal of genome editing is to achieve targeted changes without introducing foreign genes, making it a more precise and controlled approach compared to traditional genetic modification.
What are Genetically Modified (GM) Crops?
- Genetically modified crops, often referred to as GM crops or GMOs (genetically modified organisms), are plants whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.
- This involves the introduction of foreign genes from different species into the plant’s genome to confer specific traits.
- GM crops can have traits like resistance to pests, tolerance to herbicides, or improved nutritional content.
- Traditional genetic modification methods involve the insertion of genes at random locations in the genome, which may lead to unintended effects.
- GM crops have been a topic of debate due to concerns about their safety, environmental impact, and potential cross-species gene transfer.
What is CRISPR/Cas9?
- CRISPR/Cas9 is a gene editing technique used to modify DNA within living organisms.
- It stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR-associated protein 9.
- The technique involves two main components: the CRISPR array and the Cas9 protein.
- The CRISPR array consists of short repeated DNA sequences interspersed with unique spacer sequences.
- The Cas9 protein acts as molecular scissors, cutting DNA at specific locations.
- Advantages: precision, efficiency, versatility (works in various organisms).
- Challenges: off-target effects (unintended edits), ethical considerations.
- CRISPR/Cas9 has revolutionized genetic research and holds promise in medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology.
Coastal raptors make power towers their home
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Hindu
The white-bellied sea eagles in India are adopting man-made structures like power towers as nesting sites due to the scarcity of natural alternatives.
- This behaviour, observed in Australia and Thailand as well, has both risks and benefits for the eagles and nearby humans.
- A study in the Journal of Threatened Taxa highlighted the lack of suitable trees for nesting as a driving factor behind this trend.
- White-bellied sea eagles in India are nesting on powerline towers in Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu.
- The nests are located around 2 km from the sea, strategically allowing the eagles to monitor the marine area for food.
- The white-bellied sea eagle is a resident raptor belonging to the family Accipitridae.
- Its distribution range covers the sea coast of India, Bangladesh’s eastern coast, Sri Lanka, coastal southeast Asia, southern China, and Australia.
- This diurnal monogamous bird of prey primarily feeds on sea snakes and fish.
- It is occasionally spotted in inland waters along tidal rivers and freshwater lakes.
- The species is generally considered of ‘least concern’ on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Far Side Area of the Moon
(General Studies- Paper I and III)
Source : The Hindu
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released images of the far side of the lunar surface ahead of the scheduled landing of the Chandrayaan-3 Lander on the moon’s surface on August 23.
- The far side of the moon is also known as the dark side and is always hidden from Earth’s view.
- The images were captured on August 19 by the Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera (LHDAC), which is onboard the Chandrayaan-3 Lander.
- The LHDAC camera assists in locating a safe landing area by identifying suitable spots without boulders or deep trenches during the descent.
- ISRO developed the LHDAC camera at the Space Applications Centre (SAC).
- The Moon is Earth’s natural satellite, orbiting around our planet.
- It is the fifth largest moon in the solar system and is about 1/6th the size of Earth.
Rotation and Revolution:
- The Moon’s rotation period and revolution period are synchronized, meaning it takes about the same amount of time (about 27.3 days) for the Moon to complete one rotation on its axis and one orbit around Earth.
- This is why we always see the same side of the Moon facing Earth, a phenomenon known as “tidal locking.“
- The Moon’s diameter is about 3,474 kilometers (2,159 miles).
- Its surface area is approximately 37.9 million square kilometers (14.6 million square miles), which is less than the total land area of Earth.
- The leading theory of the Moon’s formation is the Giant Impact Hypothesis.
- This theory suggests that a Mars-sized object collided with Earth early in its history, and the debris from this impact eventually came together to form the Moon.
- This impact ejected a significant amount of material into orbit around Earth, which then coalesced to create the Moon.
Dark Side of the Moon:
- The “dark side” of the Moon is a misnomer; it’s more accurately called the “far side” of the Moon.
- The far side of the Moon is not always in darkness; it receives sunlight just like the near side.
- However, it is the side that is never visible from Earth due to the Moon’s synchronous rotation.
- The far side has a different appearance compared to the near side, with more extensive and prominent craters.
Phases of the Moon:
- The Moon goes through phases due to the changing relative positions of the Moon, Earth, and the Sun.
- The eight primary phases of the Moon are: New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Third Quarter, and Waning Crescent.
- The Moon’s gravitational pull on Earth creates tides in the oceans.
- This gravitational force causes the water on Earth’s surface to bulge, creating high tides.
- The gravitational interaction between Earth and the Moon also causes the Moon to experience tidal forces, which contribute to the synchronous rotation of the Moon.
- The Moon plays a significant role in Earth’s stability and climate by influencing tides and stabilizing Earth’s axial tilt.
- Its surface features, craters, and geological formations provide valuable information about the early history of the solar system.
Digital Divide in Tribal Colonies in Kerala
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : The Hindu
Kerala was the first Indian state to declare the right to the Internet as a basic right.
- However, around 189 Adivasi ooru (tribal colonies) in 12 districts of Kerala still lack access to the Internet and mobile connectivity.
- This lack of connectivity impacts over 5,000 tribal students residing in these colonies.
- Affected Districts and Student Count:
- Idukki district has the highest number of digitally cut-off tribal colonies — 75 colonies, accommodating over 2,000 tribal students.
- Kannur district comes second with around 1,140 affected students
- Efforts to Bridge the Digital Gap:
- The Scheduled Tribes Development department has sought permission from the Forest department to set up communication towers in tribal colonies within forest areas, following the Forest Rights Act provisions.
- The goal is to provide Internet and mobile connectivity in these colonies through a Union Cabinet-approved project focused on offering 4G mobile services in remote regions.
- The tower setup work will commence once permission is granted, with a target to address the digital divide by December.
- Community Study Rooms and Connectivity:
- Kerala’s government claims that community study rooms established across the state provide Internet facilities for students.
- However, students from remote digitally disconnected colonies rarely utilize such facilities.
- KFON Project and Internet Access:
- The previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government launched the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) project in 2019.
- KFON aims to provide free Internet access to 20 lakh families below the poverty line and offer Internet connectivity at a nominal rate to the public.
- The first phase of the KFON project was commissioned in June 2023.
- Judicial Perspective:
- The Kerala High Court previously affirmed that the right to access the Internet is a part of the fundamental right to education and the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is a fundamental right that guarantees protection of life and personal liberty.
- Article 21 reads as follows: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.“
Key Nuances and Interpretations of Article 21:
Right to Life:
- Article 21 has been interpreted expansively by the Indian judiciary, encompassing not only the right to mere existence but also the right to lead a life of dignity.
- This includes basic amenities, health, education, clean environment, and more.
- The term “personal liberty” includes various aspects of an individual’s freedom, such as freedom of movement, speech, association, expression, and privacy.
- The Supreme Court has held that personal liberty is not confined to physical restraint but also extends to psychological and emotional freedom.
Procedure Established by Law:
- This part of the article emphasizes that any deprivation of life or personal liberty must be done in accordance with a valid law.
- This implies that any action by the state that infringes on these rights must be lawful, just, and fair.
- The “procedure” must also be just and reasonable, ensuring protection against arbitrary state actions.
Scope of Judicial Review:
- Article 21 is not limited to procedural aspects but also involves substantive protection of rights.
- Courts have the power to examine the content of the law and its impact on life and personal liberty.
- If a law or state action violates the principles of reasonableness, fairness, or justice, it can be struck down.
- Article 21 imposes a positive obligation on the state to take measures that promote and protect life and personal liberty. This includes ensuring access to basic necessities like healthcare, education, and clean environment.
Right to Privacy:
- Over time, the Supreme Court has recognized the right to privacy as an integral part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.
- This was highlighted in the landmark judgments of Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017), where privacy was recognized as a fundamental right.
- The interpretation of Article 21 also affects the application of the death penalty.
- Courts have held that the death penalty can only be imposed if it is procedurally fair and not arbitrary.
- The principle of “rarest of rare” cases is applied to ensure that the death penalty is only imposed in the most heinous and exceptional cases.
Social and Economic Welfare:
- Courts have emphasized that Article 21 also encompasses socio-economic welfare.
- Ensuring adequate living conditions, protection of marginalized and vulnerable sections, and preventing exploitation are integral to the right to life and personal liberty.
The Saudi Arabia-UAE divide
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : The Hindu
The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), expressed anger and threats towards the United Arab Emirates (UAE), indicating a strained relationship between the two nations.
- The UAE ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ), and the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had shared a close relationship in the past, working together on various regional issues.
- Their cooperation included involvement in the war in Yemen, supporting Egypt’s al-Sisi regime, countering Iran, and implementing the blockade of Qatar.
- Over time, differences emerged, such as the UAE’s withdrawal of troops from Yemen in 2019 and its pursuit of its own regional agenda.
- The UAE expanded its presence in the region, establishing bases in Eritrea and Somaliland, while Saudi Arabia faced challenges in Yemen and Syria.
- Saudi Arabia pursued de-escalation efforts, lifting the Qatar blockade and initiating dialogue with Iran, which the UAE was hesitant to fully participate in.
- The UAE’s normalization of ties with Israel and differing stances on regional conflicts like Sudan and Iran further strained relations.
- Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are competing for dominance in sectors such as global business, tourism, finance, and technology, and are developing ports as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Despite competition, Saudi Arabia’s leadership position in the Arab and Islamic world and its significance in global energy, business, and finance will likely remain unchallenged.
- The strained relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UAE suggests a shift from cooperation to competition in various regional and economic aspects.
Saudi Arabia-UAE Relations Through the Ages:
- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) share historical, cultural, and economic ties due to their geographical proximity and common religious and tribal affiliations.
- Both countries were part of the Arabian Peninsula and have had interactions through trade, religious pilgrimages, and cultural exchanges for centuries.
Formation of the UAE:
- The UAE was formed in 1971 when several emirates joined together to create a unified federation.
- Saudi Arabia recognized the UAE’s independence and sovereignty, and the two countries established diplomatic relations.
- Saudi Arabia and the UAE have often cooperated on regional issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, counterterrorism efforts, and the stability of the Gulf region.
- They have also worked together within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an organization formed in 1981 to promote economic and security cooperation among Gulf countries.
Divergence and Competition:
- Despite their common interests, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have experienced periods of divergence and competition.
- Differences in foreign policy priorities, regional influence, and leadership roles have occasionally strained their relations.
- This was evident during the Arab Spring, where each country pursued its own approach to the uprisings in different countries.
- The Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in the Yemeni conflict in 2015 highlighted differences between the two countries.
- While Saudi Arabia played a leading role in the coalition, the UAE focused on its own interests in Yemen, including support for southern separatists.
- This divergence led to different strategies and priorities within the Yemen conflict.
Normalization with Israel:
- The UAE’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020 marked a significant departure from previous Arab positions.
- Saudi Arabia’s response was cautious, emphasizing the importance of a Palestinian state and a comprehensive peace agreement.
- This development could potentially impact the dynamics of regional alliances.
In Image: The Arabian Peninsula
Drilling in the North Sea — history and environmental concerns
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Hindu
- U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has supported new fossil fuel drilling off Britain’s coast.
- The move sparks concerns among environmental experts amid ongoing global climate change.
- Official statement on July 31 states the drilling will enhance Britain’s energy independence.
- Over 100 licenses are expected to be awarded, with the first in autumn.
History of North Sea Drilling:
- The North Sea lies between England, Scotland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Norway, Denmark, and Germany.
- The 1958 Geneva Convention established countries’ rights over continental shelves, enabling exploration.
- U.K.’s Continental Shelf Act (1964) delineated jurisdiction over seabed oil and gas resources.
- British Petroleum (BP) received the first U.K. North Sea exploration license in 1964.
- BP discovered natural gas (1965) and commercial oil (1970) in the North Sea.
- Challenges and growth in the North Sea exploration occurred, including safety improvements post-Piper Alpha disaster (1988).
- Production peaked in 1999 and declined by 2022.
Challenges of Offshore Drilling:
- U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) highlights risks to workers, waters, and wildlife.
- Offshore drilling worsens climate change, warms oceans, raises sea levels, and threatens marine biodiversity.
- Acidic waters from carbon pollution affect coral reefs, shellfish, and marine ecosystems.
U.K.’s Climate Commitments and Concerns:
- The U.K.’s commitment to climate change mitigation is questioned.
- Climate Change Committee (CCC) March 2023 report states inadequate preparation for climate change.
- National Adaptation Programmes are statutory programs under the Climate Change Act to prepare for climate change.
- CCC report notes limited evidence of adaptation implementation at the needed scale.
- Climate Action Tracker states U.K.’s climate action doesn’t align with the Paris Agreement.
- U.K.’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and long-term targets fall short of global climate change efforts.
- Licensing new oil and gas extraction is incompatible with the 1.5°C temperature limit set by the Paris Agreement.
About the North Sea
- The North Sea is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in north-western Europe.
- It is bordered by several countries, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.
- The sea lies between the British Isles to the west and the northern European mainland to the east.
Geography and Hydrography:
- The North Sea covers an area of approximately 570,000 square kilometers (220,000 square miles).
- It is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 95 meters (312 feet).
- The sea’s maximum depth is around 700 meters (2,300 feet) in the Norwegian Trench.
Islands and Archipelagos:
- The North Sea contains numerous islands and archipelagos, some of which include the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, Faroe Islands, and Helgoland.
- These islands have historically played a significant role in maritime trade, fishing, and cultural interactions.
- The North Sea has been of great economic importance to the countries bordering it due to its rich resources.
- It is known for its oil and natural gas reserves, which have been extracted since the mid-20th century.
- Fishing has also been a traditional industry, with the sea supporting a variety of fish species.
Renewable Energy and Offshore Wind Farms:
- In recent years, the North Sea has gained attention as a site for renewable energy development, particularly offshore wind farms.
- The sea’s shallow waters and strong winds make it suitable for harnessing wind energy to meet clean energy goals.
Ecuadorians reject oil drilling in the Amazon
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Hindu
Ecuadorians voted against oil drilling in a protected area in the Amazon in a historic referendum held on Sunday.
- The protected area in question is Block 44, situated within Yasuni National Park, a biodiverse region in the Amazon rainforest.
Protected Area and Biodiversity:
- Yasuni National Park is one of the most biodiverse regions globally, home to a vast array of species.
- It is located in the Amazon rainforest in eastern Ecuador.
- In 1989, it was designated a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
- The park covers over 1 million hectares and features 610 species of birds, 139 species of amphibians, and 121 species of reptiles, including several endemic species.
Uncontacted Tribes and Indigenous Communities:
- Yasuni National Park is also home to the Tagaeri and Taromenani indigenous tribes, who live in self-isolation and have had limited or no contact with the outside world.
- Over 90% of the ballots were counted by early Monday, and around 60% of Ecuadorians voted against oil exploration in Block 44.
- This decision has significant implications for President Guillermo Lasso, who supported the oil drilling project due to its economic benefits.
- President Lasso argued that oil drilling’s revenues were crucial for Ecuador’s economy.
- However, the referendum’s outcome requires state oil company Petroecuador to dismantle its operations in the protected area in the coming months.
Environmental and Indigenous Rights Victory:
- The outcome of the referendum is seen as a victory for environmental conservation and the protection of indigenous rights.
- The decision to reject oil drilling highlights the importance of preserving biodiversity and respecting the autonomy of isolated indigenous communities.
About the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest, often referred to simply as the Amazon, is a vast tropical rainforest located in South America.
- It spans across nine countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana (an overseas department of France).
- The Amazon basin covers approximately 7 million square kilometers (2.7 million square miles), making it the largest tropical rainforest in the world.
Biodiversity and Ecosystems:
- The Amazon Rainforest is renowned for its incredible biodiversity, housing an estimated 10% of the known species on Earth.
- It contains a wide variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, flooded forests, savannas, and rivers, each with distinct plant and animal life.
Flora and Fauna:
- The rainforest is home to countless species of plants, animals, and microorganisms, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet.
- It’s estimated that the Amazon Rainforest contains around 390 billion individual trees belonging to over 16,000 species.
- The Amazon River, the second-longest river in the world, flows through the heart of the rainforest.
- It has an extensive network of tributaries and is responsible for maintaining the floodplain forests that are vital for various species and ecosystems.
- The Amazon Rainforest is inhabited by numerous indigenous groups, many of whom have lived there for thousands of years and have deep cultural connections to the land.
- These communities have unique traditions, languages, and ways of life that are intricately linked to the rainforest’s resources.
- The Amazon plays a crucial role in regulating the global climate by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis.
- It is often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth” due to its oxygen-producing capabilities.
Challenges and Threats:
- The Amazon Rainforest faces significant threats from deforestation, illegal logging, agriculture, mining, and infrastructure development.
- These activities contribute to habitat loss, biodiversity decline, and greenhouse gas emissions.