Monday, January 11, 2010

8th January, 2010- Amazing experience with the nature

Climate is the long-term statistical expression of short-term weather. Climate can be defined as "expected weather". When changes in the expected weather occur, we call these climate changes. They can be defined by the differences between average weather conditions at two separate times. Climate may change in different ways, over different time scales and at different geographical scales. In recent times, scientists have become interested in global warming, due to mankind's impact on the climate system, through the enhancement of the natural greenhouse effect.

The overall state of the global climate is determined by the amount of energy stored by the climate system, and in particular the balance between energy the Earth receives from the Sun and the energy which the Earth releases back to space, called the global energy balance. How this energy balance is regulated depends upon the flows of energy within the global climate system. Major causes of climate change involve any process that can alter the global energy balance, and the energy flows within the climate system. Causes of climate change include changes in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, changes in the amount of energy coming from the Sun, changes in ocean circulation or changes in the composition of the atmosphere. Large volcanic eruptions can affect the global climate over only a few years. By contrast, the movement of continents around the world over hundreds of millions of years can also affect global climate, but only over these much longer time scales.

In the last 100 years or so, the Earth’s surface and lowest part of the atmosphere have warmed up on average by about 0.6oC. During this period, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased, largely as a result of the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, and land use changes, for food by mankind. In the last 20 years, concern has grown that these two phenomena are, at least in part, associated with each other. That is to say, global warming is now considered most probably to be due to the man-made increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst other natural causes of climate change, including changes in the amount of energy coming from the Sun and shifting patterns of ocean circulation, can cause global climate to change over similar periods of time, the balance of evidence now indicates that there is a discernible human influence on the global climate.

Today, 8th January was an important milestone in my personal life. I was among the fortunate lot to be chosen as a HSBC Climate Champion and work for a global cause, Climate change. I am a part of Team 9 chosen for the HSBC climate partnership, a groundbreaking 5 year partnership within HSBC holdings plc, climate group & Earthwatch institute.
We are basically collecting forest samples to help in climate modelling research’s scheduled we started for the forest visit at 8.30 AM from our base ( Panchavati hotel) and reached the rich deciduous forest covered within the Malgi forest range.
We were a team of 12 and were required to split into 2 groups, Team A & B with 6 members each. I was a part of Team A and scheduled to sample trees while the other team did sampling for shrubs and herbs. We started off with the trees and by the end of the day we had sampled 252 trees. By the way did I mention how you sample trees? I’ll be describing in detail. I would also like to mention a few people I have met in the past week and who have been of immense help especially while sampling trees in the forest.Mrs Indu from IISC and Beerappa and Sridhar were absolutely wonderful to work with and especially their knowledge about forests and trees were amazing.

I'll come to the point of sampling trees. First of all you need to measure the width of the tree at breast height and then take an approximate height of the tree. The job does not stop there. You need to paint the exact place where the width of the tree was measured and number the tree chronologically. It involves a lot of hard work as you have to wade through difficult and tall shrubs while completing your work, but still it was a lot of fun and at the same time learning a lot about tree species and their value.
We finished by 2.30 pm in the afternoon and Mr Vasu was waiting for us at the hotel with mouth watering items for lunch. It was like having water after walking through a long stretch in a hot desert. In the evening, we had another round of interesting discussions with Mr Prashant Mahajan, Learning & communications manager at Earthwatch Institute. We discussed on the objectives of HCP partnership and the important role climate champions are expected to play. I also came across to realize, how difficult it is to agree on a single point agenda when you have another person on the discussion table who is unwilling to budge from his stand. Truly, the two and half hours discussion was an amazing one and it was hard to keep a track on time as it just flew.I have nothing holding me back to acknowledge Mr Mahajan as one of the better presenters in this planet. He makes a discussion so worth while listening to. I hope I can learn a thing or two from him.
Did I forget to mention Dr Khalid, a Doctorate in Zoology (AMU, Aligarh) and PG Diploma in Remote Sensing (IIRS, Dehradun), is an ecologist with 17 years of experience as wildlife biologist (WII, Dehradun), Protected Area Ecologist (World Bank’s IEDP-GEF Project in West Bengal) and Biodiversity expert (TERI). At TERI he was member of NATCOM project for forestry component, member of Gangetic Plains eco-working group in National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan & member of Academic Council, TERI University for 2004-05. In AIGWES he is heading a project on Effects of climate change on Man- elephant conflict in mining effected areas of Orissa.In my personal opinion we are very lucky to have him as our field director at IRCC, Sirsi.Especially the wide range of discussions that we have on dinner table with him is truly amazing and enriching.

Last but not the least, I would like to mention our Program officer Miss Sudha Iyer, our drivers, Babu bhai & Ravi who have been co-operative and helpful and made this stay a memorable one. I have re-discovered a part of myself again, and I have made up mind to take a small sabbatical from my work to devote time for forest research.