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Geography & Environment

Coral Bleaching• The world’s southernmost coral reef has been hit by bleaching this summer, Australian scientists said, as they warned rising sea temperatures from climate change were affecting even the most isolated ecosystems.
• The corals off Lord Howe Island — some 600 km offshore from Sydney — were affected by elevated temperatures this summer, despite escaping severe bleaching that damaged the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017.
Threats• Indonesia is considering banning tourists from Komodo, the island home of the ancient Komodo dragon, to allow for conservation efforts amid concerns over mass tourism and animal-smuggling. The proposed closure, which is awaiting central government approval, would start from 2020.
Biodiversity • In a first, east Asian birds make Andaman stopover. Sighting of new species on the island chain has gone up since the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, say researchers of ZSI.
• These birds use Andaman and Nicobar Islands for a few week rest before they can fly along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF).
• EAAF extends from Arctic Russia and North America to the south Australian boundaries and includes the most of the east Asian regions including Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Impact of Global Warming• The second largest Emperor penguin colony in the world has suffered a “catastrophic” breeding failure after nearly all chicks born over three years died as their icy Antarctic habitat shrinks.
• British Antarctic Survey (BAS) used satellite imagery to study the behavior of the Halley Bay colony in the Weddell Sea due south of Cape Hope, which normally sees up to 25,000 penguin pairs mate each year.
• They found that in 2016, when abnormally warm and stormy weather broke up the sea-ice on which the penguins normally raise their young, almost all the chicks died.
• This pattern was repeated in 2017 and 2018.
Solar e-waste• India is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, buoyed by the government’s commitment to install 100 GW of solar power by 2022.
• By 2050, India will likely stare at a pile of a new category of electronic waste, namely solar e-waste. Currently, India’s e-waste rules have no laws mandating solar cell manufacturers to recycle or dispose waste from this sector.
Plastic Pollution in Mountains• A secluded mountain region thought to be free of plastic pollution is in fact blanketed by airborne microplastics on a scale comparable to a major city, researchers found.
• Over a five-month period in 2017-2018, an average of 365 tiny bits of plastic settled every day on each square metre of an uninhabited, high-altitude area in the Pyrenees straddling France and Spain, they reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.