IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th July, 2023 Geography

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The Panama Canal and the challenges it is facing due to a prolonged drought and the impact of climate change.


  • The Panama Canal is one of the world's busiest trade passages, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
  • The canal authority faces challenges due to a prolonged drought and the impact of climate change.

Extended Restrictions and Limited Crossings

  • The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) extends restrictions on ships' maximum depth and limits average crossings to 32 ships per day.
  • The ACP maintains a depth limit of 44 feet for neo-Panamax container ships and postpones further restrictions that would have increased depth limits.
  • During the rainy season, an average of 35-36 ships typically cross the canal each day, using 51 million gallons of water.

Significance of the Panama Canal

  • Approximately 5% of the world's maritime trade passes through the 80-kilometer inter-oceanic waterway.

Impact of Prolonged Drought and Climate Change

  • The canal authority faces an extended dry season with high evaporation rates and historically unprecedented lack of precipitation.
  • Weather conditions and the potential El Nino condition may influence the depth limit in the future.
  • The canal has implemented water-efficiency measures in response to climate change.

Outlook and Long-Term Planning

  • The depth limit will remain at the current level as long as weather conditions do not drastically change.
  • The ACP prepares for the long-term effects of climate change on the canal's operations.

About Panama Canal

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  • The Panama Canal is an artificial waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.
  • The canal is 82 kilometers (51 miles) long and cuts across the Isthmus of Panama.
  • The canal was built by the United States between 1904 and 1914.
  • The canal is a vital economic asset for Panama and a major tourist attraction.


  • The idea of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama was first proposed in the 16th century.
  • Several attempts were made to build a canal in the 19th century, but they were all unsuccessful.
  • The United States began construction of the Panama Canal in 1904.
  • The canal was officially opened on August 15, 1914.


  • The construction of the Panama Canal was a massive undertaking.
  • Over 25,000 workers died during the construction of the canal.
  • The canal was built using a system of locks, which raise and lower ships as they pass through the canal.


  • The Panama Canal is operated by the Panama Canal Authority.
  • The canal is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The canal can accommodate ships up to 120,000 deadweight tons.

Economic Importance

  • The Panama Canal is a vital economic asset for Panama.
  • The canal generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.


  • The Panama Canal is a major tourist attraction.
  • Millions of people visit the canal each year.
  • The canal offers a variety of tours and activities.


  • The Panama Canal is expected to continue to be a vital economic asset for Panama.
  • The canal is undergoing a major expansion project, which will allow larger ships to transit the canal.
  • The Panama Canal is a marvel of engineering and a testament to the ingenuity and determination of the people who built it.


Q) Discuss measures to address the water scarcity issue and enhance the Panama canal's resilience in the context of climate change. (150 words)