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99942 APOPHIS asteroid; Disappearing World Heritage glaciers study - Current Affairs

99942 Apophis is 340 m (about 1100 ft) wide. According to NASA it is rare for an asteroid of this size to pass Earth so closely

May 3, 2019 15:37 IST
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Story 1: 99942 APOPHIS asteroid to cruise by Earth in 2029

An asteroid named 99942 APOPHIS is on course to pass close to Earth on April 13, 2029. This massive asteroid will be visible to the naked eyes when it passes close to Earth. It is a near-Earth asteroid, which will cruise by Earth in 2029, about 31,000 km above the surface.

99942 Apophis is 340 m (about 1100 ft) wide. According to NASA it is rare for an asteroid of this size to pass Earth so closely. This is one of about 2,000 currently known asteroids roaming in the galaxy. Scientists believed that their observations can help to gain important scientific knowledge to protect our planet in future.

Facts about 99942 APOPHIS

  • The 340 meter wide asteroid named 99942 APOPHIS will shoot across the sky like a "moving star-like point of light", getting brighter and faster on Friday April 13 2029.
  • This will first visible to the naked eye at 19,000 miles above the earth's surface in the night sky over the Southern Hemisphere from the east coast to the west coast of Australia.
  • After this, asteroid will move towards Indian Ocean, then towards west above Africa, after that towards Atlantic Ocean in just an hour, it will reach to the US sky later in the day.
  • Scientists are hoping they can use its flyby to learn about an asteroid’s interior.
  • Apophis is named for an Egyptian god of chaos.
  • It is not expected to harm the earth but the size of asteroid have created curiosity among scientific community.

Asteroids

  • Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the sun. Although asteroids orbit the sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets.
  • There are lots of asteroids in our solar system. Most of them live in the main asteroid belt—a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
  • Asteroids are left over from the formation of our solar system. Our solar system began about 4.6 billion years ago when a big cloud of gas and dust collapsed. When this happened, most of the material fell to the center of the cloud and formed the sun.
  • In 2016, NASA launched the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to study an asteroid near Earth named Bennu and bring a sample of the asteroid back to Earth.

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Story 2: Almost half of World Heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100: Study

Glaciers are set to disappear completely from almost half of World Heritage sites if business-as-usual emissions continue, according to the first-ever global study of World Heritage glaciers, co-authored by scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The sites are home to some of the world’s most iconic glaciers, such as the Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas or Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae.

The study, ‘Disappearing World Heritage glaciers as a keystone of nature conservation in a changing climate’, combines data from a global glacier inventory, a review of existing literature and sophisticated computer modelling to analyse the current state of World Heritage glaciers, their recent evolution, and their projected mass change over the 21st century.

The study also expects that 33% to 60% of the total ice volume present in 2017 will be lost by 2100, depending on the emission scenario.

Major Highlights

  • Study predicts glacier extinction by 2100 under a high emission scenario in 21 of the 46 natural World Heritage sites where glaciers are currently found.
  • Even under a low emission scenario, 8 of the 46 World Heritage sites will be ice-free by 2100.
  • The study also expects that 33% to 60% of the total ice volume present in 2017 will be lost by 2100, depending on the emission scenario.
  • Beyond these alarming results, the authors emphasise the key role that glaciers play for ecosystems and societies at a global scale. Glacier conservation could thus serve as a trigger to tackle the unprecedented issue of climate change.
  • The authors of the study also developed the first ever inventory of glaciers on the UNESCO World Heritage list, documenting about 19,000 glaciers present in 46 out of the 247 natural World Heritage sites.

Glaciers on stake worldwide

  • Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina contains some of the largest glaciers on Earth and a very large ice loss – about 60% of the current volume – is predicted by 2100 within this site.
  • In North America, Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks and Olympic National Park could lose more than 70% of their current glacier ice by 2100, even under drastically lowered CO2 emissions.
  • In North America, Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks and Olympic National Park could lose more than 70% of their current glacier ice by 2100, even under drastically lowered CO2 emissions.
  • In Europe, the disappearance of small glaciers is projected in the Pyrénées - Mont Perdu World Heritage site before 2040.
  • Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand, which contains three quarters of New Zealand’s glaciers, is projected to lose 25% to 80% of the current ice volume over the course of this century.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

  • IUCN is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • Created in 1948, IUCN has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network.
  • It is headquartered in Switzerland.
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook provides conservation outlook assessments for all natural World Heritage sites.

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