Parched: Uncontrolled extraction of ground water and degraded wetlands have left Chennai with only 1.3% of its water reserves | Image credit: Yahoo India

Extreme weather: Chennai faces its worst drought in 70 years

Chennai is witnessing its worst drought in 70 years. The water levels in Chennai’s four main reservoirs are currently at only 1.3% of the total capacity. This is the fifth-lowest quantity of water recorded in the past 74 years in the city.

The analysis of meteorological data from 1813 onwards shows no increase in the rate of annual rainfall over the years. Researchers say Chennai has urbanized at the cost of its water resources. They blame water stress on the over-extraction of groundwater, degradation of wetlands, a thriving unregulated water market, and climate change.

Revealed: The ‘extraordinary thinning’ of ice in interiors of Antarctic 

The Antarctic ice-loss problem is deeper than previously thought. New analysis of satellite data, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, revealed the loss was spreading deep into the Antarctic. The cause, the research points out, is the warming of the Southern Ocean, because of which glaciers are sliding into the sea at an increasing speed – five times faster compared to the 1990s. If this continues, the study warns of a catastrophe in the form of a loss of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet, which will drive up global sea levels and wash out coastal cities. While the loss of ice in West Antarctica was already known, this new study, for the first time, pin points where this ‘extraordinary thinning’ is occurring and just how fast.    

Human wildlife destruction shrinking size of big animals, last Sumatran male rhino dies 

Humans are causing nature to shrink. The average body size of animals has shrunk by a quarter, says a study published in the journal Nature Communications. From rhinos to eagles, scientists say, over 1,000 larger species of mammals and birds will go extinct in the next century, leading to the collapse of ecosystems that provide food and clean water to humans. Research in 2018 showed that the average size of wild animals has fallen by 14% in the past 1,25,000 years. The new study predicts a further shrinking of 25% in just 100 years. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino died in captivity, setting back efforts to save the critically endangered species.

Weak El Nino enough to delay Indian monsoon, southern states worst hit

The UN World Meteorological Organization has predicted a weak El Nino this year. But even a weak El Nino (the warming of ocean surface temperatures) may delay monsoon in India, forecasters warned. Pre-monsoon rainfall (March to May), vital to crops in several parts of the country, fell short by 22%, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD). The southern states were worst hit with rain deficiency touching 46%.

Warming impact: Surge in algae kills 8 million salmon in Norway

Rising temperatures are causing a surge of algae around the northern coast of Norway, suffocating around 8 million salmon at Norwegian fish farms – over half of this year’s expected sales growth – the state-owned Norwegian Seafood Council has said. The algae chokes the gills of the fish. Wild fish can swim away from the algae belt while farmed fish are trapped. Algal blooms after aquatic plants grow out of control due to warm, still weather, among other factors.

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