China produces gas from flammable ice under South China Sea

Why in news ?

China has successfully produced natural gas from methane hydrate, also known as flammable ice, in an experimental project in the South China Sea.

What is flammable ice ?

Also called methane hydrate or Methane clathrates or gas hydrate, is a solid  in which methane-hydrate-depositsa large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice.

Natural Deposits : Methane clathrates are restricted to the shallow lithosphere i.e. < 2,000 m depth. Furthermore, necessary conditions are found only in either continental sedimentary rocks in polar regions where average surface temperatures are less than 0 °C; or in oceanic sediment at water depths greater than 300 m where the bottom water temperature is around 2 °C.

What is the use ?

If methane hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it will revert back to water and natural gas. When brought to the earth’s surface, one cubic meter of gas hydrate releases 164 cubic meters of natural gas. It is thought to have the potential to be a revolutionary energy source that could be key to future energy needs.

Japan reported a similar successful production test . India, Canada and the United States are also believed to be looking at hydrates as an alternative energy source.

Source : The Hindu

GS I : Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent)


Ice-free areas of Antarctica to increase by 2100

In News

Ice free areas may increase in Antarctica by 25% due to climate change, leading to drastic changes in the continent’s biodiversity, a study warns.

About the Study

  • Researchers, including those from University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia, investigated how ice-free areas in Antarctica may be affected by climate change.
  • Melting ice could create up to 17,000 square kilometre of new ice-free area across Antarctica – a 25% increase on current levels.
  • The majority of this melting would occur on the Antarctic Peninsula where the climate had already rapidly warmed.

Effect of ice-free area

  • Expansion of ice-free habitat could lead to new opportunities for Antarctic biodiversity.
  • The warmer conditions will also encourage invasive species to establish.

Source : Live Mint

GS I : Salient features of world’s physical geography

GS III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment


A normal monsoon

India is likely to get ‘normal’ monsoon rains, according to the first official forecast of the season by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Key Facts on Monsoon Forecast

  • Rains are likely to be 96% of the 50-year average of 89cm for the monsoon season of June to September.
  • The Indian weather office has clarified that even if El Niño emerges in September, if other parameters remain as they are now, the country may get a normal monsoon.
  • They are expected to fan out favourably and help agriculture.
  • Every number forecast by the IMD has a built-in 5% error margin.

Concern over forecast

  1. There’s the looming threat of El Nino.
  2. According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, prospects of El Niño forming this year have increased to 50%.
  3. The IMD has adopted a new weather model this year, and it is still a work-in-progress.
  4. India saw drought years in 2014 and 2015.
  5. As for 2016, it received 3% less than the 89 cm average, despite an IMD forecast of above normal rains.

Effect of poor monsoon over India

  • Anything less than 90% of the average rainfall in a region is regarded as deficient rainfall.
  • Effect on Farmers: The most obvious victims of deficient rainfall are the farmers. Without proper rainfall they are left with absolutely no hope. Proper rainfall can help food production reach unprecedented levels, deficient rainfall can lead to paucity in the total agricultural production.
  • Effect on Growth: Growth in agricultural sector would reduce. This will also percentage points from the overall GDP growth of India. This will also have a detrimental effect on demand in the non-agricultural sector.
  • Effect on Power Sector: Water levels will be lower than normal in several hydroelectric dams, there will be lesser electricity
  • Effect on Goods:  The demand goes down this happens predominantly in the rural areas and input costs increase to a significant extent. As a result, their financial condition including share prices is highly affected.
  • Effect on Export/Import: Agricultural exports will be lesser and imports will be higher due reduced production. Fiscal deficit will increase. A number of drought-relief measures will be taken and ferrying food stocks from one place to another will become costlier.

Source : The Hindu

GS I : Indian Geography

Depression in Bay of Bengal turns into tropical cyclone ‘Maarutha’

Path of tropical cyclone Maarutha. (
  • Tropical Cyclone Maarutha has made landfall in Myanmar.
  • Heavy rainfall continues to be the main threat, which could cause flooding in that country.

Maarutha is the first named storm of the 2017 Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclone season.

  • The Joint Typhoon Warning Center said that Tropical Cyclone Maarutha had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
  • Maarutha is rapidly decaying, due to its interaction with land.
  • Maarutha is forecast to pass through capital city of Myanmar on April 17

Tropical Cyclone

  • A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain.
  • Tropical cyclones typically form over large bodies of relatively warm water.
  • They derive their energy through the evaporation of water from the ocean surface, which ultimately recondenses into clouds and rain.
  • The strong rotating winds of a tropical cyclone are a result of the conservation of angular momentum imparted by the Earth’s rotation as air flows inwards toward the axis of rotation.
  • Tropical cyclones are typically between 100 and 2,000 km (62 and 1,243 mi) in diameter.
  • Wind blowing counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The opposite direction of circulation is due to the Coriolis effect.

What is the difference between Cyclone, Hurricane, Typhoon

  • Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by names such as hurricane, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone.
  • A hurricane is a storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean.
  • Typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
  • Cyclone occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean.

Source :, Wikipedia

GS I : Salient features of world’s physical geography