News: The World Health Organization (WHO) would unveil a system of naming of coronavirus variants drawn from the way tropical storms are named, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan says.
The new naming system should go live soon. It will be names like hurricanes.
This is so as not to stigmatise and deincentivise countries from making their sequencing results public.
It will also be easier for the lay public to remember rather than these complicated lineage numbers
The WHO and health and science agencies across the world, for instance the Indian Council of Medical Research, the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and the Public Health England refer to viruses and their variants by formal lineage names, which are a combination of letters and names that point to the relationships between different variants.
How are Cyclones named?
In 2000, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) agreed to start assigning names for cyclones over the North Indian Ocean basin using a list of names suggested by the countries surrounding the ocean basin. Initially, India expressed reservations to naming cyclones and after four years of continuous deliberations, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) initiated the naming of the North Indian Ocean storm with Cyclone Onil in September 2004.
There are six regional specialised meteorological centres (RSMCs) and five regional Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs) across the globe to monitor cyclogenesis, issue advisories and name cyclones. IMD’s RSMC in New Delhi is one among them that provide advisories to 13 countries in the north Indian Ocean basin: Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
RSMC, New Delhi is, therefore, responsible for naming cyclones over the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea based on the suggested names from all these countries. Out of several criteria for naming cyclones, some very important ones are: names should be politically and culturally neutral, should not be rude and cruel and should be short, easy to pronounce. The maximum permissible length of the cyclone names is eight letters.
As per the WMO guidelines, a list of 64 names was drawn in 2004 using the suggested names from eight countries in the region. Exactly a year ago, in May 2020, Cyclone Amphan became the last cyclone to get its name from the old list.
In 2020, a new list of cyclone names was issued by IMD, following WMO guidelines. The new list comprises 13 names of cyclones each for the 13 member countries, totalling to 169.
2. ARCTIC COUNCIL
News:S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Washington wanted to avoid a military build-up in the Arctic, a day after Russia defended its military activities in the strategic region.
About Arctic Council:
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic.
The eight countries with sovereignty over the lands within the Arctic Circle constitute the members of the council: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Outside these, there are some observer states.
The first step towards the formation of the Council occurred in 1991 when the eight Arctic countries signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS).
The 1996 Ottawa Declaration established the Arctic Council as a forum for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic states, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on issues such as sustainable development and environmental protection.
The Arctic Council has conducted studies on climate change, oil and gas, and Arctic shipping.
Only states with territory in the Arctic can be members of the Council. The member states consist of the following: