UPSC Prelims News of 15 November 2022
Context: The technology demonstration of Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) mission has been completed by NASA.
About LOFTID Mission:
- LOFTID is NASA mission to test inflatable reentry systems from low-Earth orbit. The technology has future applications during Mars mission.
- The LOFTID orbital flight test was the next step of the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) technology.
- HIAD is re-entry and landing technology for spacecrafts to enter planetary atmosphere. The large size of the HIAD device creates higher drag and starts the deceleration process higher in the atmosphere than traditional aeroshells.
- The technology will allow payloads that are much heavier, but can also allow landings starting at higher altitudes. It can help bring back massive objects back from Earth’s orbit, like items from the International Space Station.
- Design: The device will consist of an inflatable structure that is capable of holding its shape against drag forces.
- It will be made up of a protective flexible thermal protection system that will protect it from the heat generated during re-entry.
- Its structure is made with a stack of pressurized concentric rings made of synthetic fibres, which are strapped to form a cone-shaped structure.
Context: The third edition of ‘Sea Vigil-22’ will begin on the eastern seaboard.
About Sea Vigil:
- Origin: This exercise was conceptualized in 2018 to check various measures that have been taken towards enhancing the maritime security since the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
- Host: The exercise is conducted by the Indian Navy in coordination with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Ministries involved in the task of maritime activities.
- Location: It will be undertaken along the 7,516 km coastline of the country, covering the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India.
- Participants: All the coastal States, Union Territories and other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities, will be involved in the exercise.
- Significance: The exercise provides the opportunity at the highest level to assess the preparedness in the domain of maritime security and coastal defence.
- Sea vigil will assess the Coastal Defence mechanism and build up towards the `Theatre Level Readiness Operational Exercise’ (TROPEX). Ex TROPEX is conducted every two years by the Indian Navy.
- Ex TROPEX and Sea Vigil together will cover the whole range of Maritime Security challenges.
Global Shield Fund
Context: A G7-led plan called “Global Shield” to provide funding to countries suffering climate disasters, has been launched at the COP27.
About the Fund:
- It is a joint initiative of the G7 and the V20 Group of 20 vulnerable countries, launched at the COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
- It is co-ordinated by G7 president Germany and aims to provide climate-vulnerable countries with rapid access to insurance and disaster protection funding after floods or drought.
- It is being developed in collaboration with 58 climate-vulnerable economies to bring together climate risk finance and preparedness.
- It will support the design and deployment of social protection and insurance solutions for local communities, businesses and households in order to provide fast and reliable funding.
- It will enable the Global Shield to strengthen community resilience and support economic and social development.
- The fund will both help nations prepare for climate change and respond to natural disasters sparked by rising temperatures.
- Beneficiary: Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal will be among the first countries to benefit from the Global Shield.
- Need: Some research suggests that by 2030, vulnerable countries could face $580 billion per year in climate-linked “loss and damage”.
Boreal Forests (Taiga)
Context: According to a study, the boreal forest are under severe threat due to increasing forest fires, the melting of permafrost, intensifying insect infestations and warming temperatures.
What are the Boreal Forests?
- About: Taiga (also known as boreal forest) is the northernmost and coldest forest on Earth. The boreal forest is the world’s largest terrestrial (land-based) biome.
- Location: Boreal forests are located in the northern hemisphere, approximately between the latitudes of 50° N – 65° N.
- Spread: They exist as a nearly continuous belt of coniferous trees across North America and Eurasia. The boreal represents 29% of the world’s forest cover.
- Types: There are two major types of boreal forest- the closed canopy forest in the South which has the longest, warmest growing season of the biome, and the high boreal forest with farther-spaced trees and lichen groundcover.
- Climate: The taiga corresponds with regions of subarctic and cold continental climate (Koeppen’s Dfb, Dfc, and Dwd climate types). Long, severe winters and short summers are found.
- Vegetation: These are dominated by species of evergreen conifers spruce, fir and pine, the deciduous conifer larch, and species of birch and aspen.
- Important features of vegetation:
- The trees of the boreal forest tend to have shallow roots, due to the thin soils.
- Wildfires are an important part of the reproductive cycle for some species.
- The canopy of boreal forests is characterized by a prevalence of conical-shaped evergreens, which often form a closed canopy.
- Fauna: Boreal forest is home to some of the iconic animals including Siberian Tiger, wolves, bears, Arctic fox and musk ox.
- Soils: The soils of the boreal forest are often acidic, due to falling pine needles, and low on nutrients since the cold temperatures do not allow much foliage to rot and turn into dirt.
- Carbon Sequestration: The boreal forest stores enormous quantities of carbon. It possibly stores more than the temperate and tropical forests combined. Much of Carbon is stored in peatlands.