SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s TLP – 2018: UPSC Mains General Studies Questions [28th June 2018]- Day 4

  • IASbaba
  • June 29, 2018
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TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s TLP – 2018: UPSC Mains General Studies Questions [28th June 2018]- Day 4

1. What kind of plant and animal life can survive in the polar climates? What special adaptations must this life make to the harsh conditions of this region? Discuss.


  • Introduction: Give 1-2 introduction about polar climate and the region where they are present.
  • Body: Two parts are required here. First part, mention the flora and fauna and second part mention the adaptation which they have undergone to survive in those extreme climate.
  • Conclusion: 1-2 lines conclusion is must.


Polar climates are characterized by temperature lower than the freezing point, negligible insolation, scarce precipitation and strong winds. It is these extreme conditions that make survival of flora and fauna challenging in these areas.


Plants: In wetter and sunnier areas, tundra vegetation with the dominance of willows and birch is found. Lichens and mosses replace tundra vegetation towards the extremes.

Animals: Large animals like polar bears, wolves, foxes and reindeers are found here. Among invertebrates, mites, ticks, flies and mosquitoes are found. Coastal birds as well as marine mammals are also a feature of the Polar Regions.



  • Trees grow close to the ground or in coniferous shape to shed snow easily.
  • Plants hold onto dead leaves for insolation.
  • Some plants use deep snow like a blanket to protect against cold.
  • Shallow root system due to availability of a thin layer of soil that thaws each year.
  • Small leaves to minimize the amount of water lost through transpiration.
  • Perennial species that grow only during summer.


  • Thick layer of fur and fat for insolation.
  • Large and webbed feet to walk in snow.
  • Slow walking to avoid heat exhaustion.
  • Ability to close nostrils while under water.
  • White color that camouflage in the snow to protect against predators.


Adaption has enabled for survival of flora and fauna in such extreme climatic conditions. Polar climates are present in both Arctic and Antarctic regions but due to isolation from rest of the land, Antarctic region has far less number of species than Arctic.

Best Answer: Maximus



2. The highest concentration of marine life is found in which parts of the ocean? Why?


  • Write a short introduction of 1 or 2 lines
  • Body must include regions of high concentration of marine life with their respective reasons and one example for each region would make your answer complete (diagrams can be included)
  • An apt conclusion


Considering Vertical Distribution:

Surface layer:

  • Also called Photic zone or epipelagic zone which can be upto 100m depending on the latitude.


  • abundant amount of sunlight. The energy is used by phytoplanktons for photosynthesis. Since they are the food source of a large variety of life forms in ocean, living organisms thrive in this region.
  • energy surplus region
  • There is constant mixing of water in this region. Because of this, the temperature remains constant.

Considering Horizontal Distribution:

Continental Shelf


  • Optimum sunlight
  • shallow waters and gentle slope
  • high amount of nutrients coming from the land

Eg: Regions of coral reefs which in turn are home to many different species

Regions where contrasting ocean currents meet


  • high availability of nutrients
  • optimum temperature

Eg: Grand Banks of Newfoundland, The cold Labrador Current mixes with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream here. Best fishing grounds of the world

Regions of ocean water upwelling

Wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water

Reasons: The nutrient-rich upwelled water stimulates the growth and reproduction of primary producers such as phytoplankton

Eg: Strong upwelling of California Current system


Climate change and pollution due to high human intervention in the oceans has been the reason for changing balance of ecosystem and biodiversity in the oceans.

Best Answer: Ivjyot Oberoi




3. What would be the major changes in the world’s coastal zones if sea level were to rise? Discuss. 


  • Give a brief introduction regarding the threat of sea level rise.
  • Divide the impact of sea level rise into socio-economic and environmental input.
  • Substantiate arguments with facts wherever possible.


Between 1993 and 2010, sea levels rose by 3.2 mm per year, the fifth Assessment Report of IPCC projects more and faster sea level rise by the end of the 21st century. With 20% of the world’s population living within 30 km of the coast, rapid sea level rise can have large scale ramifications.


Current century is facing the fastest rise in the sea level. One of the first zones that will be hit by this rise would be the coastal zones. Considering that coastal zones have been a hotbed of civilizations across the globe, the changes that it will witness would have severe impact. These impacts can be seen as below.

Socio- Economic impact-

  • The rise in sea level would flood the coastal areas. This would displace the population residing near the coastal areas. Such situation can be witnessed in major cities like New York, Mumbai. Also, the displaced population would put pressure on the limited resources in the relocated areas.  This might lead to social tensions as well.
  • The flooding would also usurp large amount of cultivatable lands across the globe and bring down the food-grain production. In Bangladesh, sea level rise would inundate 17 per cent of Bangladesh’s land area by 2050 reducing cultivatable lands significantly.
  • Large proportion of population is employed due to economic services provided by coastal region (tourism, port facilities, fisheries). The rise in sea level would bring a halt to most of such services and thus threaten livelihood of scores of people across the globe.
  • The sea level rise can harm the very existence of some Island nations like Maldives. It has been found that in 2017, 8 Islands in Pacific Ocean were swallowed by sea level rise.
  • With sea level rise, the threat of storms, cyclones would increase because waves can attack higher on the shore profile damaging the infrastructure near to shorelines.

Environmental impact-

  • Rise in seal level would submerge coastal ecosystems like mangrove forests, reefs which not only act as a first line of defense against calamities like Tsunami, floods but also preserve the marine biodiversity in the region. This threat is quite evident in Sundarbans of West Bengal.
  • Wetlands are under greater threat of getting submerged in the sea. This would destroy the biodiversity profile of the region and can impact migration patterns of many birds. It is estimated that a 38-cm rise in global sea level would lead to an approximate 22 % loss of the coastal wetlands
  • Inundation due to floods leads to salinization of groundwater and thus reducing the availability of fresh water.
  • It has been seen that sea level rise can exacerbate the coastal erosion and thus eroding a once existing coastline. Parali I, a biodiversity-rich uninhabited island of Lakshadweep has vanished due to coastal erosion in 2017.


The changes that coastal zone would witness would be irreversible.  Thus, steps like Paris Climate Change Accord, Sustainable Development Goals have to be mainstreamed across the globe. The successful implementation of such steps would decide the future of many people depending on the coastal regions.

Best Answer: cr7



4. Describe where most of the world’s coral reefs are located. Give examples of islands or island groups that have coral reefs. What dangers does climate change pose for reefs? Discuss.


  • Introduction- What are coral reefs? – in a line or two. Its importance.
  • Location of most of the coral reels across world- world map is must here (rough sketch will do).
  • Examples of islands that have coral reefs.
  • Effect of climate change on coral reefs.
  • Conclusion- Way forward to protect coral reefs.


Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine water that contain few nutrients. They are rightly regarded as rainforest of the ocean.

Location of most of the world’s coral reefs:

Coral reefs are found in all three of the Earth’s oceans that have portions in the tropics – the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian.

The global distribution of coral reefs is largely determined by the ecological requirements of the reef-building corals themselves.

  • Reef-building corals require warm water. The limits tolerated for long periods are from about 17-34 degrees C.  annual temperature regimes mainly restricted to tropical seas.
  • The coral animals require sunlight found in clear, shallow ocean waters. Depth of water should not be more than 180 feet.
  • The water should be saltish and free from sediments. Corals therefore survive best in moving ocean water well away from the silty coasts or muddy of mouths of streams.

Thus, the coral reefs are mainly concentrated towards the western margins of the tropical oceans.


Islands where coral reefs are found includes Andaman and Nicobar island, Seychelles, Maldives, Papua New Guinea etc.

Effect of climate change on coral reefs:

  • Warmer water temperatures brought on by climate change- If water temperatures stay higher than usual for many weeks, the zooxanthellae leave the corals. Without zooxanthellae, corals gets bleached. Bleached corals are weak and less able to combat disease.
  • Ocean acidification- The ocean absorbs approximately one-third of the atmosphere’s excess carbon dioxide, resulting in a more acidic ocean. In order for a coral reef to grow, it must produce limestone (or calcium carbonate) at a rate that is faster than the reef is being eroded. Ocean acidification slows the rate at which coral reefs generate calcium carbonate, thus slowing the growth of coral skeletons.
  • Increased sedimentation and melting of glaciers resulting into sea level rise- causes increases in sedimentation that can lead to the smothering of coral.
  • Changes in storm patterns- leads to stronger and more frequent storms that can cause the destruction of coral reefs.
  • Changes in precipitation- increased runoff of freshwater, sediment, and land-based pollutants contribute to algal blooms and cause murky water conditions that reduce light.
  • Altered ocean currents- leads to changes in connectivity and temperature regimes that contribute to lack of food for corals and hampers dispersal of coral larvae.


Coral reefs are important as they contain the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms and provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms. Given climate change is the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems, efforts should be taken to tackle GHG emissions, strict implementation of INDCs, check on anthropogenic activities like oil spillage etc.

Best answer: Mayu



5. Scientists consider the oceans to be Earth’s last true frontier and a great resource base for the future. Why? In this light, examine the significance of blue water economy.


Despite the fact that the ocean plays a role in everything from the air we breathe to daily weather and climate patterns, we know very little about our ocean. And, most of our knowledge of the ocean lies in shallower waters. Deeper waters remain a mystery even though we are relying more and more on these areas for food, energy, and other resources. Enter ocean exploration.

Blue water Economy is linked to potential use of natural available resources to boost the economy. It includes oil exploration, maritime trades, deep sea fishing and maritime tourism such as “ro ro ferry services “.

Ocean’s as a great resource base for the future:

  • Findings made through ocean exploration are fundamental to reducing unknowns in deep-ocean areas and providing high-value environmental intelligence needed to address both current and emerging science and management needs.
  • Exploration helps to ensure that ocean resources are not just managed, but managed well, so those resources are around for future generations to enjoy.
  • Through ocean exploration, we can establish the baseline information needed to better understand environmental change, filling gaps in the unknown to deliver reliable and authoritative science that is foundational to providing foresight about future conditions and informing the decisions we confront every day on this dynamic planet.
  • This same knowledge is often the only source for basic information needed to respond appropriately in the face of deep-sea disasters.
  • Information from ocean exploration is important to everyone. Unlocking the mysteries of deep-sea ecosystems can reveal new sources for medical drugs, food, energy resources, and other products.
  • Information from deep-ocean exploration can help predict earthquakes and tsunamis and help us understand how we are affecting and being affected by changes in Earth’s environment.

Significance of blue water economy, in case of India:

  • India has been part of various ad hoc committees of UN based on law of seas especially related to Indian Ocean to keep its strategic and political interest at the bay .With discovery of various mineral resources such as manganese and cobalt crust on ocean floor bed the potential of maritime mining has led to countries such as India, China and Japan.
  • With growing relation between Asia and Africa the Indian Ocean is key to India’s strategic dominance. And also Asia-Pacific growing trade links, it is necessary to maintain security in these regions.
  • With initiative Such as Ro- Ro ferry services between Ghogha in Saurashtra, and Dahej in South Gujarat will unlock the India’s true economic potential in environmental friendly and will reduce the vehicle movement in lands and hence will add to economic interest too.
  • India has large coastline and with new technologies in deep fishing the fisheries will provide a large number of employment and will also help in boosting exports and reduce trade deficit problem.

India can profitably integrate its on-going programmes like Make in India, smart cities, skill development and self-reliance in defence and operationalize the blue economy. And the international rules and norms for ‘Blue Economy’ or ‘Blue-Water Economy’ are still evolving and are being actively considered in various multilateral forums at regional and global levels. Through proactive diplomatic engagement in these forums countries aim to protect and enhance their economic and strategic interests in the maritime arena.

Best Answer: Ankita


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