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Arctic winter sea ice in 2021 joint seventh-lowest on record, finds NASA



Sea ice in the Arctic has reached its maximum extent for 2021 — tying with 2007’s as the seventh-smallest extent of winter sea ice. This may mean that the Arctic is losing more ice than it can recover.

The ice peaked at 14.77 million square kilometres (km2) on March 21, according to scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

The NSIDC has termed the development as “uneventful maximum”. It, however, noted it followed an “exceptional” year for sea ice: Arctic’s summer minimum in September 2020 was the second-lowest on record.

This year’s maximum was 870,000 km2 below the 1981-2010 average maximum and 360,000 km2 above the lowest maximum recorded in 2017, NSIDC noted.

The ice extent in the Arctic changes throughout the year: It grows during the winter before reaching its peak in February or March. It then melts throughout the spring and summer towards its annual minimum, which is typically in September.

Carbon Brief quoted Ted Scambos, senior research scientist at NSIDC, as saying:

“The sea ice maximum in 2021 is not close to a record, but still quite low compared to any year prior to 2000.”

The low ice extent, according to NSIDC, was because of the positive phase of the phenomenon called Arctic Oscillation. During this phase, a ring of strong winds circulating around the North Pole acts to confine colder air across polar regions.

This pattern transported ice from the Siberian coast, across the pole and out of the Arctic Ocean, leaving thinner ice along the Siberian coast which was more prone to melting.

According to NSIDC:

From 13 October into early November, the daily sea ice extent was the lowest for that day in the satellite record. The low sea ice extent left vast expanses of open water across the Arctic throughout November, which lost heat to the atmosphere and caused hotspots to form near the surface of the ocean.


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Businesses can collapse due to electricity tariff increase next year– Patali



Patali Champika Ranawaka

The Cabinet has approved increase in electricity tariffs in two stages in January and June 2023.

The disclosure was made on Tuesday (29) at a meeting of the Sub Committee on Identifying the Short & Medium-Term Programmes, related to Economic Stabilisation of the National Council.

The government increased power tariffs in August this year.

Parliament announced that although the electricity tariffs had been increased in the recent past, the CEB was still running at a loss.

The representatives of the government and private institutions related to the power sector were called before the Committee to obtain proposals for the purpose of solving the issues in the power sector.

In order to cover the current losses of the CEB, electricity tariffs had to be increased by about 70%, the statement issued by Parliament quoted CEB representatives as having said.

The statement quoted Chairman of the Committee, Patali Champika Ranawaka, as having said that if electricity tariffs were increased to cover CEB’s losses, businesses could collapse as a result.

It was also disclosed that the CEB currently owed nearly 650 billion rupees as outstanding debt to various parties including banks and electricity suppliers. The Electricity Board representative stated that out of the amount to be paid, nearly Rs. 35 billion were to be paid to the organisations that supplied renewable energy, and 75 billion rupees are to be paid to Thermal power suppliers. Thus, it expects to pay at least part of what it owes the suppliers from the 50-billion-rupee loan to be received. (SF)

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PMD claims President’s response misinterpreted



President Ranil Wickremesinghe denied recent media reports stating that the Provincial Councils will be replaced with the District Development Committees.

Issuing a press release his media division said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s response in Parliament on Tuesday has been misinterpreted.

Wickremesinghe’s media Division said that in response to a statement by former President Maithripala Sirisena, the President stated that the District Development Committees (DDCs) would be established within the Provincial Councils.

The DDCs would provide a platform for coordination between thegovernment, the Provincial Councils and the Local Government bodies for all executive decisions, the Media Division said.

“This will ensure the process is not duplicated and will reduce financial wastage. Apart from that, the president has not made any statement about the dissolution of provincial councils.”

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Kumudesh: Top bureaucrat demands service extension from Minister’s daughter to approve shady deal



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A senior official of the Ministry of Health has asked the daughter of a Cabinet Minister to help him obtain a service extension in return for approving a controversial tender for medical supplies, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) Ravi Kumudesh says.

Kumudesh told The Island yesterday that the Minister’s daughter was working for a company that supplied oxygen generators.

“The official told the Minister’s daughter that he would grant the tender to a company of his choice to ensure a comfortable retirement and if her company wanted to secure the contract he should be given an extension in service.”

Kumudesh said the money for the medical equipment was to be paid through the grants from the Global Fund. The World Bank is a major contributor to the Global Fund.

“Officials can grant these tenders to companies of their choice by changing criteria. They make small technical specifications to ensure that only one company qualifies. These officials are a law unto themselves.”

Health Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

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