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Insights Daily Current Events, 23 May 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 23 May 2016

Paper 1 Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Water staircases in seas

Scientists have proposed a possible mechanism by which the upper layers of the Arctic Ocean warm up, causing the ice to melt.

What’s it?

According to a research, internal waves, which move vertically through the ocean, sometimes pass through water staircases, which are steplike variations of density of water, in such as manner as to churn up the underlying warm, salty water, thereby increasing the temperature of the top, cooler layers.

What are water staircases?

Water staircases are steplike variations of density of water due to steplike changes in temperature and salinity.

Where do internal waves exist?

Internal waves exist where the density gradually increases with depth. They cannot propagate where the density is uniform.

How Arctic Ocean is being affected by this mechanism?

The Arctic Ocean has inflows coming from the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. In this, the top layers consist of cooler and less saline water and below that is a layer of water coming from the Atlantic Ocean which is more saline and warmer, too. The effect of salinity wins over that of temperature and so, though the water below is warmer, it is heavier than the cooler, less saline layer on top.

  • Warm, but salty water — ultimately originating from the Atlantic Ocean resides near the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. If turbulence could somehow mix this water with that above, then, eventually, the surface could warm more rapidly, and this would increase the rate of sea-ice melt.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 1 Topic: art and culture.

Gaya-model lantern in Colombo

A Vesak lantern kept near Gangaramaya temple in Colombo this year has attracted many tourists. The lantern is an additional attraction this year as it has been modelled on the “stupa” at the Mahabodhi temple in Gaya, Bihar.

Gangaramaya Temple

Key facts:

  • Lanterns are an integral part of the Vesak Poya festival (Full Moon in May), which is celebrated to mark three important events in the life of Buddha — birth, enlightenment and death.
  • The Mahabodhi temple, one of the oldest brick structures in eastern India, was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in June 2002.
  • Located about 115 km south of Patna, the temple is regarded as one of the four holy sites related to the life of Buddha.
  • According to the UNESCO, this was the first temple built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century BC. However, the present temple is of the 5th-6th century CE, belonging to the late Gupta period.
  • Another special feature is that the temple is believed to have had a significant influence on the development of brick architecture over the centuries.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 1 Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Why sea ice cover around Antarctica is rising

A new NASA-led study has found why the sea ice cover surrounding Antarctica has been increasing slightly, in sharp contrast to the drastic loss of sea ice occurring in the Arctic Ocean. According to the study, the geology of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is responsible for this rise.


  • According to the study, two persistent geological factors — the topography of Antarctica and the depth of the ocean surrounding it — are influencing winds and ocean currents, respectively, to drive the formation and evolution of Antarctica’s sea ice cover and help sustain it.
  • The study notes that as sea ice forms and builds up early in the sea ice growth season, it gets pushed offshore and northward by winds, forming a protective shield of older, thicker ice that circulates around the continent.
  • The persistent winds, which flow down slope off the continent and are shaped by Antarctica’s topography, pile ice up against the massive ice shield, enhancing its thickness.
  • This band of ice, which varies in width from roughly 100 to 1,000 km, encapsulates and protects younger, thinner ice in the ice pack behind it from being reduced by winds and waves.
  • As the sea ice cover expands and ice drifts away from the continent, areas of open water form behind it on the sea surface, creating “ice factories” conducive to rapid sea ice growth.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

India successfully launches reusable launch vehicle RLV-TD

India has successfully launched the first technology demonstrator of indigenously made Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), capable of launching satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere. The experiment is also known as hypersonic flight experiment.

  • Being dubbed a complete ‘Made-in-India’ effort, the Reusable Launch-Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) is the first time that ISRO launches an indigenous space craft with delta wings.
  • The test launch is considered a significant step in India’s space endeavour. It’s especially important because in 2011, the U.S.’s Nasa abandoned its reusable space shuttle project.

Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)

Key facts:

  • The 6.5 meter long Re-usable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) weighs about 1.7 tons.
  • Built over five years by a team of 600 scientists, the project cost around Rs 95 crore.
  • The project is also being called a hyper-sonic experiment (HEX) as it will also test the ability of the vehicle to withstand re-entry at speeds higher than that of sound.
  • This was the first time that ISRO flew a winged body and brought it back to land on a make-shift runway.
  • Dubbed as India’s own space shuttle, RLVs are being seen as the unanimous solution towards achieving low cost, reliable and on-demandspace access.

Sources: the hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

  • According to a Crisil report, remittances from the Gulf nations to India have declined for the first time in six years due to sliding oil prices. Remittances have fallen by 2.2% in 2015-16. This fall has also resulted in a contraction of oil imports. It should be noted here that more than half of India’s remittance income comes from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). Also, India’s dependence on remittances and the resultant vulnerability is much lower than some of its Asian peers who receive similar proportions of remittances from GCC countries. Remittances make up 3.7% of India’s GDP, compared with 28% cent in Nepal, 9.7% in Sri Lanka, and 6.5% in Pakistan.


  • Kiran Bedi has been appointed as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. She replaces Lieutenant-General (retd) AK Singh – who as the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar, was given additional charge of Puducherry in 2014. She has been appointed by the President of India under Article 239 of the Constitution.


  • Country’s oldest leopard Devi recently celebrated her 25th birthday at Raipur’s Nandanvan Zoo. Devi is country’s oldest surviving leopard presently. Prior to Raipur, the oldest leopard was at Lucknow Zoological Garden, which survived for 23 years. Nandanvan zoo is located in Chattisgarh.