WHERE IS THE LARGEST SEAGRASS MEADOW FOUND?

Scientists have discovered the world's largest plant off the Australia coast- a seagrass meadow that has grown by repeatedly cloning itself. Genetic analysis has revealed that the underwater fields of waving green seagrass are a single organism covering 180 sq.km. through making copies of itself over 4,500 years.

Scientists confirmed that the underwater meadow was a single organism by sampling and comparing the DNA of seagrass shoots across the bed, wrote Jane Edgeloe, a study co-author and marine biologist at the University of Western Australia.

A variety of plants and some animals can reproduce asexually. There are disadvantages to being clones of a single organism. such as increased susceptibility to diseases- but "the process can create hopeful monsters" by enabling rapid growth, the researchers wrote.

The scientists call the meadow of Poseidon's ribbon weed "the most widespread known clone on Earth", covering an area larger than Washington, the US.

Though the seagrass meadow is immense, it's vulnerable. A decade ago, the seagrass covered an additional seven square miles, but cyclones and rising ocean temperatures linked to climate change have recently killed almost a 10th of the ancient seagrass bed.

Did you know?

  • The species is commonly found along parts of Australia's coast, and grows "like a lawn" up to 35 cm a year, Which is how they arrived at this plant's age.
  • This specific plant is believed to have spread from a single seed.
  • The plant is hardy, growing in different types of conditions within its present location - from a variety of temperatures and salinities to extreme high light conditions, all of which would have been very stressful to most other plants.
  • A place in the Guinness World Records

The Poseidon's ribbon weed has entered the Guinness World Records as the "largest single living organism based on area". The weed has claimed its title from a honey mushroom, which is spread over 2,385 acres in the U.S. The mushroom is still "the world's largest fungus".

Picture Credit : Google 

WHICH IS THE FIRST FULLY SOLAR-POWERED EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE IN INDIA?

The Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education in Puducherry is the first fully solar-powered educational institute in India. With solar panels installed on almost all the rooftops in the campus, the school produces three times more energy than what it consumes.  

Many schools encourage their students to switch off the fans and lights after use, plant trees and take other initiatives to save energy. However, very few go beyond just asking them to take precautions and save energy. SAICE is different. This educational institute is self-reliant in terms of energy; it meets all its energy requirements through solar power. Moreover, it produces three times the electricity it consumes and lights up many other buildings with the excess energy. And it has done so by devising and implementing a project almost entirely on its own.

SAICE is a part of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. It was in 2012 that Dr. Brahmanand Mohanty, an alumnus of SAICE, came up with the idea of making the ashram energy efficient with the help of a sustainable model.

Dr. Mohanty had a vision of developing a system that would make SAICE self-dependent for energy. With this in mind, he had a meeting with the trustees of the Ashram. They gave him the go ahead and even suggested that pilot research activities should be taken up with the active participation of the young teachers and students at the Institute. And then it all began. The whole project was conducted in two phases from 2012 to 2015.

Following this analysis, all inefficient lamps, fans, air conditioners, and computers, which had been in use since a long period of time, were substituted by more energy-efficient alternatives to lower the energy demand by more than 25 percent, without compromising on the quality and service.

With a better understanding of how much energy the educational institute was consuming, they came to the decision that a solar power plant should be installed inside the campus so as to meet all the energy demands in-house. Thus, a 17 kWp rooftop solar power plant was set up in the school by an Auroville-based solar installer.Teachers and students were involved in the entire process right from the start. They helped in the basic wiring, setting up the panels on the rooftop, and more.

Credit : The better india

Picture Credit : Google 

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT SOCOTRA ISLAND?

Hosting hundreds of plant and animals species that are found nowhere in the world, it's small wonder that Yemen's Socotra archipelago has been called the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.

Full of life!

Located more than 300 km from its parent country Yemen, the Socotra archipelago comprises four islands in the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Yemen. Covering a total area of nearly 4,000 sq.km., the islands are known for their rich biodiversity and unique flora and fauna. For instance, among the 825 plant species found in the region now, as many as 307 cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Birds such as the Socotra starling, Socotra sunbird, and Socotra warbler are said to be found only here. A staggering 90% of reptile species and 95% of land snails too are said to be endemic (found nowhere else). Because of this, the place is often referred to as the "Galapagos of the Indian Ocean".

Lying close as it does to the African continent, the archipelago appears to be the extension of the Horn of Africa. About 20 million years ago, these islands were believed to have broken off the Gondwana supercontinent. The archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with "Outstanding Universal Value" in 2008. Though the habitats within the region appear to be healthy and safe, they are not without threat. These include tourism, invasive species, overusing of natural resources and natural disasters. In fact, the conservation outlook for this site has been assessed as "significant concern" in the latest assessment cycle 2020.

Wildlife

Nearly 200 species of birds, including land and sea, are said to be seen in the archipelago. Among them are garganeys, shovelers, pintails, teals, ducks, guinea fowls, quails, flamingoes, grebes, pigeons, doves, sandgrouses, coucals, nightjars, swifts, moorhens, stilts, plovers, stints, snipes, sandpipers, coursers, gulls, terns, tropicbirds, petrels, shearwaters, boobies, egrets, herons, ibises, ospreys, buzzards, owls, hoopoes, bee-eaters, falcons, shrikes, ravens, larks, martins, swallows, warblers, whitethroats, thrushes, wheatears, starlings, sunbirds, pipits, wagtails, buntings, and sparrows. As an archipelago, the region has a startling variety of corals, fishes, crabs, lobsters, and shrimps too, together adding up to more than 1,000 species!

Dragon's blood tree

Synonymous with the identity of Socotra, the dragon's blood tree is found nowhere else in the world. It "lives within remnants of prehistoric 'Dragonsblood forest on granite mountains and limestone plateaus" within Socotra.

Marked by a unique umbrella-shaped canopy, the tree is said to capture the moisture in the air through its leaves and take it to the roots. Having held an economically significant role for centuries, the tree has varied uses. When fed to cattle in very small quantities, the tree's berries are said to improve the animals' health.

The tree gets its name from the red-coloured resin it produces, and this resin is believed to have several medicinal uses. The International Union for Conservation of Nature's conservation status for the tree is "vulnerable".. Shockingly, it has been discovered that hardly any "populations are regenerating naturally". In addition, it has been noticed that "in some areas young trees lack the species' characteristic umbrella shape".

As climate change intensifies, "Socotra is drying out, with once reliable monsoon weather becoming patchy and irregular. And this could spell irreversible change to the archipelago and its unique inhabitants.

Picture Credit : Google 

WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE GEOGRAPHIC SOUTH POLE?

The geographic South Pole in Antarctica is the only place on earth where you can time travel! All lines of longitude converge at this exact point, so you are literally standing in all 24 time zones. You can step from today into yesterday and back into tomorrow! Since Antarctica is largely uninhabited, the continent is not officially divided into time zones. Research stations use the time zone of the country that operates them, while others observe the local time of countries nearby officially divided into time zones. Research stations use the time zone of the country that operates them, while others observe the local time of countries nearby.

What is a time zone?

A time zone can be described as a region of the Earth that observes a standard time for several purposes, including commercial, legal, and social. Time zones often follow the boundaries of a country and its subdivisions since it is convenient for places in close proximity to observe the same time. Time zones on land are usually offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The Earth’s rotation means that time zones are determined by the lines of longitude that connect the North and South Poles, and divide the globe into different time zones. A country or region may have multiple time zones. For example, the United States is spread across six time zones. However, since all lines of longitude converge at the poles, it means that the poles are technically located within all time zones simultaneously. 

Time at the geographic poles.

In most parts of the globe, lines of longitude determine the local time, such that the specific time is synchronized to the position of the Sun in the sky. However, this does not apply at the North and South Poles, where the rising and setting of the Sun occurs only once a year. At the North Pole, the sun is continuously above the horizon in the summer and below the horizon during winter. The Sun rises during the March equinox and reaches sunset around the September equinox. The South Pole does not receive any sunlight from March until September, while the Sun is continuously above the horizon from September until March, meaning that the pole experiences one of the coldest climates in the world.

How is time determined at the geographical poles?

While there are no permanent human settlements at the poles and no specific time zone has been assigned to either pole, explorers and polar expeditions choose to follow any time zone deemed convenient. Therefore, a group of explorers may choose to observe the same time zone as their country of origin or may opt to use Greenwich Mean Time. For example, a group working at the McMurdo Station in the South Pole followed the local time in New Zealand local time (UTC+12 or 13).

Credit : World atlas 

Picture Credit : Google 

WHICH IS THE LARGEST NATURAL FLOWER GARDEN IN THE WORLD?

The Dubai Miracle Garden, occupying over 780,000 sq feet, is the world's largest natural flower garden with over 150 million flowers and plants. The flowers are maintained with treated wastewater through a drip irrigation method, with an average of 757,082 litres of water used per day. The Dubai municipality re treats the grey water of the city and sends it directly to the Garden, where it is re-filtered and converted into high-quality water for watering. The Garden holds three Guinness World Records - world's largest vertical garden, world's biggest flower structure (Airbus A380 flower structure) and world's tallest topiary-supported sculpture (59 foot Mickey Mouse topiary). Other floral works of art include the Floating Lady, Floral Clock, Sunflower Field, Smurfs Village, Floral Castle, among others. It is also home to the Dubai Butterfly Garden, the world's largest and the region's first indoor butterfly garden and sanctuary for over 15,000 butterflies from 26 species.

The concept of the first miracle garden project was formed under an agreement between Dubailand and the Dubai Properties Group destination. The project development was done under an agreement with Akar Landscaping and Agriculture Company,led by Jordanian businessman Abdel Naser Rahhal. The cost of the project was estimated at AED 40 million (US$11 million).

The Dubai Miracle garden has achieved three Guinness World Records. In 2013, it was declared as the world's largest vertical garden. Currently an Airbus A380 flower structure in the garden is listed by Guinness World Records as the biggest flower structure in the world. The 18 metres (59 ft) topiary of Mickey Mouse, which weighs almost 35 tonnes, is the tallest topiary supported sculpture in the world.

Credit : Wikipedia 

Picture Credit : Google