Best of our wild blogs: 20 Jan 11

From the minds of midgets
from The annotated budak and don't blame her

Five islands in one trip!
from wild shores of singapore

Venus Drive – Abuzz with Activity!
from Diary of a Boy wandering through Our Little Urban Eden

110119 Chestnut Avenue
from Singapore Nature

The Common Birdwing
from Garden Voices

Black Bittern stalking quarry
from Bird Ecology Study Group

The Bird Ecology Study Group's blog now at
from Habitatnews

Conservation textbook available for free download
from Celebrating Singapore's BioDiversity!

The Mass Extinction of Scientists Who Study Species
from Wired: Wired Science

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Thailand: Closing marine parks 'won't save coral'

Pongphon Sarnsamak The Nation 20 Jan 11;

The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department will not close all the marine national parks along the Andaman Sea coast to save damaged coral reefs from bleaching.

"Closing the marine national parks will not help the coral reefs recover from bleaching," the Department's directorgeneral Sunant Arunnopparat said.

The Marine and Coastal Resources Department prepared a report on the coral reef bleaching in the marine national parks and asked the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to close them to help their recovery.

Sunant said he had instructed officials to survey the bleached areas and report the findings to him. He will today call on all marine national park heads to meet with University academics and other experts to find out answers to the coral reef bleaching situation.

"I think there is no need to close the marine national parks to relieve the damaged coral. This measure would not help too much at this time," Sunant said.

"We should find other measures to reduce the impact by asking people not to disrupt nature. Closing the parks would cause a lot of impact," he added.

He said prevent tourist to enter into the bleaching areas would be proper measure to recover coral reef from bleaching.

However, some areas surrounded marine national parks where have found severe damaged coral reef by bleaching would be closed.

Marine and Coastal Resources Department yesterday also had brought a group of media to survey coral reef bleaching surrounded KohEl and KohHey in Phuket province.

Niphon Phongsuwan, a marine biologist of Phuket's marine biology centre who head a team, said over 90 percent of coral reef surrounded KohEL were damaged by bleaching and 50 percent of coral reef surrounded by KohHey were destroyed by bleaching. Most of coral that had been damaged are staghorn coral, table coral, and branching coral which located at 5 meters to 10 meters below sea level.

The department has installed an undersea station to monitor the development and recovery of coral reefs.

During a trip to survey the coral reef bleaching at these two islands, a group of foreign tourists swimming and snorkelling around Koh Hey were seen breaking and destroying live coral.

"This bad behaviour was caused by the tour company which did not explain how to be a good tourist. They should explain how to dive in a fashion friendly to the coral reef," Niphon said.

"We must train guides urgently," he added.

The department will organise training for tour guides in three provinces including Krabi, Phangnga, and Phuket next month.

Paitoon Panchaibhum, a director of Marine Resources and Coastal Conservation Center Division 5 said tourists had been seen collecting coral and marine fish in baskets and taking them away as gifts for their friends. His division had installed warning signs in several languages urging tourists not take coral from the sea - but they had been ignored.

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North-South Expressway to ease CTE congestion

Government to acquire 25 terrace houses, part of Marymount Convent
Goh Chin Lian Straits Times 20 Jan 11;

SINGAPORE'S longest road viaduct will be built as part of the 21km North-South Expressway (NSE) which planners expect will slash travelling time from Woodlands to the city by 30 per cent during peak hours.

Work on the expressway - Singapore's 11th and technically the most challenging - is due to start in two years. It should end by 2020 when the already heavily used Central Expressway (CTE), to which it runs parallel, and other major roads are expected to face a capacity crunch.

The bill for the new expressway: $7 billion to $8 billion.

Details of the 15.9km northern section of the NSE, from Admiralty Road West to Toa Payoh Rise, were announced yesterday.

It will comprise an 8.8km viaduct and road tunnels linking estates like Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh to the city. It will have largely three lanes each way.

The Government will acquire 38 lots of land entirely and 33 lots partially. They include about 25 terrace houses at Marymount Terrace, and the part of Marymount Convent that houses the living quarters of nuns and a nursing home.

Also affected are industrial land owned by JTC Corporation as well as parts of fences, boundary walls and grass verges of condominiums such as Nuovo, Castle Green, Seletaris and Bullion Park.

The acquired land, gazetted yesterday, is about 5.6ha or the size of eight football fields. This area is larger than the 4.8ha of land acquired for the 12km Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway, which is three-quarters underground, and 3.4ha for the underground MRT Circle Line.

The route of the 5.1km southern section is still being firmed up and will be announced later, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said. It is expected to connect to the East Coast Parkway.

Plans for the North-South Expressway were first unveiled as part of a land transport masterplan two years ago that went beyond building more roads in land-scarce Singapore to improving public transport and moving from taxing vehicle ownership to charging for road usage.

The LTA said it has planned extensively and carefully for the new highway to minimise the impact on the public.

It is banking on the NSE to relieve congestion on the CTE, the only expressway for the north-south corridor that sees heavy traffic from the northern and central parts at peak hours.

While the CTE is on target to be widened to four lanes by the end of this year, the LTA said the roads cannot cope with future growth in traffic as more homes are built in Yishun, Sembawang and Woodlands, and Marina Bay in the city centre becomes developed.

The NSE, which will connect to Seletar Expressway, could also improve traffic flow on major roads like Thomson and Marymount. The LTA estimates it could ease traffic by 10 per cent to 15 per cent on the CTE and major roads.

That is good news for project manager Patrick Liow, 54, who lives in Yishun and drives his daughter to Nanyang Technological University in Jalan Bahar at 8am, before going to his office in Ayer Rajah.

'It's always jammed. Ang Mo Kio, jam. Marymount Road, jam. Lornie Road, jam. Farrer Road, jam,' he said.

'This expressway is long overdue.'

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research at property consultancy SLP International, estimates the increased accessibility to the city and elsewhere to give a slight lift of 2 per cent to 3 per cent to the values of properties northwards from Toa Payoh.

But homes 10m to 20m from the viaduct, from the first to 11th levels, could see a 5 per cent drop in value. 'It's the noise, dust and unsightly view of vehicles zooming past,' he said.

Some home owners at Marymount Terrace who received acquisition notices yesterday were upset, with at least one bursting into tears at the thought of parting with her long-time neighbours. They have been given two years to move.

Others mulled over their options. Said businessman Wilson Loy, 41, who has lived there for 15 years: 'We don't know where we are going to go but we just hope the compensation is reasonable.'

Members of the public can call the Singapore Land Authority on 6323-9829 on land acquisition issues and the LTA on 1800-CALL-LTA (1800-2255-582) for matters related to the expressway.

Additional reporting by Kimberly Spykerman, Chong Ziliang, Lester Kok and Royston Sim

Properties affected
Straits Times 20 Jan 11;

The following will be acquired by the Government:

# Marymount Terrace
This road running parallel to Marymount Road has a row of 26 terrace houses built about 16 years ago. They are near the Circle Line's Marymount MRT station,which is about a five-minute walk away.

# Marymount Convent
Land housing the Good Shepherd Convent, home of the Good Shepherd nuns. However, Marymount Convent School next door will not be affected.

# Condominiums
The Seletaris in Sembawang, as well as the Nuovo, Bullion Park and Castle Green in Yio Chu Kang, will have part of their fences, boundary walls and grass verge acquired.

# Industrial estates
These are owned by JTC and HDB in places like Sin Ming and Woodlands, where companies such as CityCab and 3M Singapore lease space for their operations.

Longest viaduct most challenging to build
Royston Sim & Lester Kok Straits Times 20 Jan 11;

THE longest viaduct in Singapore is also expected to be one of the toughest to build.

A Land Transport Authority spokesman said the main engineering challenge is that the North-South Expressway will pass through densely populated and built-up areas, and be built 'in close proximity' to buildings and underground infrastructure.

Engineering experts said a fine balance must be struck between construction progress and minimising disruptions to daily life in residential areas.

Transport consultant Gopinath Menon noted that constructing tunnels using a cut-and-cover method would involve a lot of road diversions.

He added that the different types of roads to be built also contribute to the project's complexity.

'First of all, it's a combination of everything - a viaduct, surface road, half-depressed road and a tunnel,' he said.

'Having to go both above and underground shows how difficult it is to build roads in Singapore now.'

In planning and designing the North-South Expressway, the LTA said its main consideration was choosing the best possible route to minimise land acquisition.

Building a viaduct did not necessarily mean more land would be acquired, said a spokesman.

The 8.8km viaduct portion will run along stretches where there is sufficient space within the road reserve for columns to be put up without having to acquire too much land.

Having a tunnel for other sections would also minimise land acquisition.

Motorists generally expected that the new expressway would ease some of the congestion on the Central Expressway (CTE).

Said Yishun resident Melvin Kok, 52, was also pleased that it would give him an alternative to using the CTE.

The director of a perfume distributor company, he added that he now uses Thomson Road or the CTE but both are equally congested during peak hours.

'It can take me as long as an hour to drive from Yishun to the city,' he said.

Other motorists like Mr Jorge Neo, 28, an IT executive, felt it would be good for residents in Sembawang and Yishun to have an expressway nearer their homes.

However, he pointed out that it would be 'useless' unless the expressway could bypass the traffic jams usually formed at the junction between CTE and the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE).

Woodlands resident Lai Mun Loon, 26, a graduate student, was more concerned about the price he would have to pay to use the new route, as he expects Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) to be in effect.

In response, the LTA said: 'As with all other roads, ERP will be considered only if the traffic conditions warrant it.'


# North-South Expressway viaduct
8.8km (estimated completion: 2020)

# West Coast Highway viaduct
5km (operational since 2006)

# Bartley-Tampines viaduct
4.5km (operational since last year)

# Tuas West Extension viaduct
4km (estimated completion: 2016)

# Upper Serangoon viaduct
1.5km (operational since 2002)

North-South Expressway alignment approved
Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 19 Jan 11;

SINGAPORE: The government will acquire close to 40 lots and more than 30 part lots of land to facilitate the construction of a stretch of the North South Expressway (NSE) between Admiralty Road West and Toa Payoh Rise.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said this follows government approval for the alignment of that stretch of the new expressway.

Planning, engineering and alignment studies for the southern segment of the NSE are still ongoing.

The LTA said the lots to be acquired, which include Marymount Terrace and Marymount Convent, will be comprehensively redeveloped.

The Orange Valley Nursing Home and Good Shepherd Chapel, as well as the Missionaries of Charity Gift of Love Home and Rose Villa would have to go, as a result.

Marymount Convent School and Marymount Kindergarten said they would remain at its current premises.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the sites at Marymount Terrace and Marymount Convent would be considered for residential development after the completion of the new expressway.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) gazetted the lands affected by the acquisition on Wednesday.

Landowners who are directly affected will receive the acquisition notices on Wednesday and they will be given ample time to move out.

Some residents said they had been told to get their property evaluated before entering into talks with the government to work out compensation packages.

They added they had two years to move to a new place.

The new expressway will run parallel to the Central Expressway (CTE) to serve the north-south corridor.

The CTE is currently the only expressway serving the north-south corridor and it experiences heavy traffic generated by motorists from the northern and central part of Singapore during peak hours.

One driver said: "It will actually minimise congestion on certain expressways, due to the fact that there is another new route for (drivers) to use".

Another said: "This highway will alleviate all the population leaving from Punggol and Yishun, and Woodlands, so it really helps a lot"

A third person said: "It would not help. The more highway freeway you build, the more cars you will entitle people".

LTA said even with the completion of the CTE widening project by the end of this year, traffic demand along this corridor is expected to continue to grow.

The authority said the NSE will not only alleviate the current load experienced on the CTE, but also help ease traffic on major arterial roads, such as Thomson Road and Marymount Road.

NSE will consist of a combination of viaduct and road tunnels to provide a new high speed road link from residential estates such as Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh to the city centre.

It will also connect to existing expressways, such as the Seletar Expressway and major arterial roads, such as Marymount Road.

Work on the new expressway is expected to start in 2013 and completed by 2020.


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Singapore fish farms aim to net huge harvest

Co-op will help them get consistent supplies of fish fry and feed
Jessica Lim Straits Times 20 Jan 11;

SOME fish farmers here do not want to be small fry.

That is why 24 of them have banded together to form a cooperative, to reel in larger harvests and net better deals from buyers and suppliers.

The first farm co-op here, the Singapore Marine Aquaculture Cooperative was given the green light two weeks ago. An application had been filed with the Registry of Co-operative Societies in September last year.

The 24 members own eight fish farms in total, each more than half a hectare in size. The co-op's goal is to scale up production of the four main types of fish reared here - seabass, tiger grouper, red snapper and golden trevally - to an average of 120 tonnes a month for each farm by next year. In the whole of last year, each harvested an average of 60 tonnes of fish.

The fish, fattened up from fry from countries such as Indonesia and Taiwan, will be sold at wet markets, restaurants and supermarkets.

The co-op has inked a contract to buy 800,000 fish fry a month until April next year from a hatchery in Indonesia, said the co-op's founder Philip Lim, owner of a fish farm in Pasir Ris.

'Without a co-op, farmers cannot get consistent supplies of fish fry or feed as suppliers cannot be bothered to sign contracts with such small players,' he added, noting that bulk buying also reduces costs.

Systems are being installed at the fish farms to monitor the water oxygen levels, plans are afoot to tag fish with radio frequency identification technology to ensure quality, and the search for land to build a hatchery has begun. The project will cost about $5.6 million, paid for by members and raised with the help of investors.

The co-op is also in talks with supermarkets such as Cold Storage and Giant to clinch sales, said Mr Lim.

Its creation is among moves that the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) hopes will push up the amount of local fish in the national supply from 4 per cent to 15 per cent in the next five years. There are currently 111 coastal fish farms here, mostly in Pasir Ris, Changi and Lim Chu Kang.

According to the AVA, 122,610 tonnes of fish were consumed here in 2009, about 95 per cent of which were imported from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

'If a co-op like this doesn't exist, over time, the number of fish farmers here will dwindle due to competition from imports,' said Mr Samuel Chua, a senior manager at the Singapore National Co-operative Federation.

Mr Lee Van Voon, 44, who harvested about five tonnes of tiger grouper last year, is confident that he can more than double his output this year with the co-op's help.

'Without a co-op, we cannot negotiate for a better price for fry and feed. If our order is not big enough, suppliers tell us to wait,' said the owner of a small farm near Pulau Ubin.

Mr Eric Cheng, 35, who owns three fish farms, will not be joining the co-op yet. 'We are taking a wait-and-see approach. The co-op's production target is unrealistic.'

Mr Lim, though, is upbeat. 'With our technology and experience, we can meet our targets,' he said, adding that he wants to up co-op membership to 60 by the end of the year.

Targets set

# Current production: 10 tonnes a year from each member farm
# Target: 40 tonnes a month from each farm

# Current production: 8 tonnes a year from each member farm
# Target: 12 tonnes a month from each farm

# Current production: 25 tonnes a year from each member farm
# Target: 25 tonnes a month from each farm

# Current production: 12 tonnes a year from each farm
# Target: 40 tonnes a month from each farm

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Ambitious plans for Kranji farms

Esther Ng Today Online 20 Jan 11;

SINGAPORE - In spite of the uncertainty over its members' farming activities, the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) yesterday unveiled an ambitious 10-year plan to promote tourism and increase food security through sustainable local food production.

Chief among the plans is to increase local supply of food by making current land more productive through "advanced sustainable high-yield technology, best agricultural practices and R & D of new products", according to KCA ordinary secretary Kenny Eng.

The association plans an audit of existing farms to better understand the current land use and food productivity of the Kranji farming area. Additionally, it hopes a farmers' market will catch on in Singapore within the next three years.

"We hope more people will become aware of local produce and where they buy their food," said Mr Eng.

The leases of the 28 farms under KCA will expire in two to 10 years. The association said it is in talks with the authorities to review the situation.

Over the next three years, the KCA plans to work with the Land Transport Authority to improve road safety, provide better cycling access and more public bus services.

Longer term plans include creating jobs for challenged and disadvantaged Singaporeans by getting them to do "simple and structured" work.

The association also hopes that polluting industries along the coastline and around Kranji Reservoir will be relocated, so as to rehabilitate the coastline and that recreational water sports can be introduced.

"We're serious enough to make this work. We want tourists to see our countryside and to do that we're going to have to think outside the box - create festivals and entertainment at farms," said Mr Eng.

The move comes as Kranji's countryside was recognised as Asia's best region to practice sustainability by a United States consumer movement promoting health and sustainability, Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability (LOHAS). The organisation has also made Kranji its Asia-Pacific headquarters.

Farmers' 10-year plan to grow bigger businesses
Group aims to set up market, boost transport links
Straits Times 20 Jan 11;

THE seed has been planted. Now farmers in Kranji are looking forward to reaping the rewards of an ambitious 10-year plan announced yesterday.

The aim? To help their businesses grow bigger and better.

They plan to set up a farmers' market, improve transport links to their rural premises and have their farms audited for productivity.

The move by the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) comes as Singapore attempts to improve its food security by increasing food production and diversifying its food sources.

To boost production, the KCA will have its farms audited by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, which oversees them, to see how they can improve.

Over the next three years, the KCA, which represents 10 farms raising fish, animals and vegetables, also wants to set up a market selling local produce, get a public bus service started and improve cyclists' access in the area's narrow, winding lanes.

And over the next 10 years, it will work with agencies such as the National Environment Agency to redevelop the Lim Chu Kang jetty and employ more disadvantaged people.

Asked where the money will come from, KCA president Ivy Singh-Lim of Bollywood Veggies said they would make do with what they have: 'Farmers like us, we've existed all this while without much help in terms of money.'

Yesterday, the association gave three media groups awards for their coverage of rural issues.

The Straits Times' Ms Tan Hui Yee received one of three Kranji Awards for her series of stories on Singapore's farm areas. Ms Tan will donate her $2,000 award to the KCA. The others went to MediaCorp's Chinese-language Channel 8 and Chinese-language travel magazine Travellution.


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New eco-label for Singapore food-courts

Mustafa Shafawi/Rachel Kelly Channel NewsAsia 19 Jan 11;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) has launched a new certification scheme to facilitate the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices among local food-court operators.

SEC's Executive Director, Howard Shaw, said food courts generate huge amounts of waste and consume massive amounts of energy and water every day.

The Eco-Foodcourt certification assesses the environmental management system in a foodcourt, from its environmental policies to water, energy and waste management.

One of the mandatory requirements is that takeaway orders must not be placed in styrofoam boxes.

Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor, who was at the launch, gave certificates to Singapore's first two Eco-Foodcourts - The Deck at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, and the Kopitiam @ City Square Mall.

Examples of environmentally sustainable practices implemented at The Deck include organic food recycling, the recycling of cooking oil, and the use of eco-friendly and reusable boxes as well as the promotion of meat-free meals.

Kopitiam's Corporate Communications Manager, Ms Goh Wee Ling, said the tenants saw a bonus for being environmentally responsible.

They saw operating expenses fall when they managed the use of energy and water wisely.

It was reported last year that Singapore saw a 31 per cent increase in waste generated since 2000, with food waste as one of the top five waste types.

The SEC aims to give the Eco-Foodcourt certificate to 10% of the food courts in Singapore by the end of this year.

Going forward the SEC says it is working towards a certification for community clubs and retail establishments.


New intiative to get local food court operators to adopt environmentally friendly practices
Rachel Adrienne Kelly Today Online 19 Jan 11;

SINGAPORE - A new scheme has been launched to get local food-court operators to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. Its an intiative by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC).

Its Executive Director, Howard Shaw, said food courts generate huge amounts of waste and consume massive amounts of energy and water daily.

The Eco-Foodcourt certification assesses the environmental management system in a foodcourt, from its environmental policies to water, energy and waste management.

One of the mandatory requirements is that takeaway orders must not be placed in styrofoam boxes.

Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor, who was at the launch, gave certificates to Singapore's first two Eco-Foodcourts - The Deck at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, and the Kopitiam @ City Square Mall.

Examples of environmentally sustainable practices implemented at The Deck include organic food recycling, the recycling of cooking oil, and the use of eco-friendly and reusable boxes as well as the promotion of meat-free meals.

Kopitiam's Corporate Communications Manager, Ms Goh Wee Ling, said tenants who managed the use of energy and water wisely saw a reduction in their operating expenses.

Singapore reportedly saw a 31 per cent increase in waste generated since 2000, with food waste among the top five waste types.

The SEC aims to give the Eco-Foodcourt certificate to 10 percent of the food courts in Singapore by the end of this year.

It is also working towards a certification for community clubs and retail establishments.

"We have foodcourts in our commercial spaces and in our heartlands, and overall it contributes significantly to resource consumption in terms of electricity, water, and waste generation. So by creating a shift in the way foodcourts operate we feel we can make a significant contribution to our national environmental statistics," said Mr Shaw.

2 food courts get eco-friendly label
Outlets in City Square Mall and NUS are the first under S'pore Environment Council scheme
Grace Chua Straits Times 20 Jan 11;

CUSTOMERS at two food courts will now use takeaway cartons and cutlery made from sustainable materials, in place of plastic or styrofoam ones.

This is among the criteria the outlets needed to fulfil to become Singapore's first eco-food courts, under a labelling scheme launched yesterday by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC).

The two food courts, one located at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the other at City Square Mall, also have to cut back on their energy and water use, provide a vegetarian food stall and recycle as much of their waste as possible.

SEC executive director Howard Shaw said food courts, which are widespread and 'serve as our community dining table', are a good way to raise awareness of recycling and environmental issues.

He said he hoped to get at least 100 outlets - from among the several hundreds of food courts, coffee shops and hawker centres in Singapore - to sign up this year to become eco-friendly.

Singapore, which imports most of its food, is grappling with ways to cut back on food and other waste. In 2009, a mere 13 per cent of its food waste was recycled.

The Republic also hopes to boost the recycling rate for all waste from 57 per cent in 2009 to 60 per cent next year and 65 per cent in 2020.

Two other certification schemes, for community clubs and the retail sector, will also be launched this year, in addition to the SEC's green office and eco-food court certifications.

While the outlet at City Square Mall is Kopitiam's only certified food court so far, the chain is 'keeping an open mind' on getting its other outlets certified, said Kopitiam spokesman Goh Wee Ling.

The food chain has close to 90 outlets in Singapore, about three-fifths of which are in malls, and the rest in heartland neighbourhoods.

Ms Goh added that the set-up cost of buying recycling bins was 'minimal', and that operating costs actually went down 15 per cent to 20 per cent because of water and energy savings.

South West District Mayor and Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor was guest of honour at the launch of the certification scheme at NUS.

Environmental consultant Eugene Tay, observing that the success of the scheme would depend on its actual implementation, said the devil was in the details.

'Success will depend on cleaners and stallholders themselves, and whether they separate food waste and ask customers if they need plastic bags,' he said.

He added that in addition to energy, water, recycling and sustainable takeaway packaging, the certification scheme could also take into account whether the food is sourced locally, as transporting food over shorter distances could save energy.

Besides the eco-food court scheme, other groups are also looking at food waste issues.

The National Environment Agency is studying whether refund schemes or mandating certain premises to separate recyclables like food waste and glass can work to get people to change their recycling habits.

And under the Energy Market Authority's $10 million Smart Energy Challenge, researchers from Nanyang Technological University are working with IUT Global, a company which turns organic waste into biogas for energy, to make food waste recycling more efficient.

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Indonesia hopes Asean to agree on rice reserve plan soon

Antara 19 Jan 11;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia hopes members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would agree at ASEAN meetings this year on an Emergency Rice Reserve procurement plan.

"The discussion last year did not produce any agreement but e hope it will be reached this year," Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said at a press conference on Indonesia`s leadership in ASEAN for 2011 at her office here on Tuesday.

The director general for international trade cooperation of the ministry of trade, Gusmardi Bustami, meanwhile said ASEAN agriculture ministers had already discussed the plan to procure a rice reserve for emergency use by ASEAN member countries at a meeting in Cambodia last year.

He said among the issues on which they had not yet reached agreement at the meeting in Cambodia were the procurement mechanism and rice procurement sources, amount of stocks and the funding for the implementation of the common reserve procurement system.

The system was aimed at stabilizing the rice price in the region and helping other ASEAN countries form a rice reserve.

"In 2011 as the ASEAN chair Indonesia had an obligation to continue what was done at the meeting in Cambodia in 2010. Hopefully it can be accomplished," he said.

Vice Trade Minister Mahendra Siregar said the issue of food and commodity price movements would indeed become one of the focuses in the ASEAN meetings this year.

"Food and commodity price movement will become the main topic of discussion in the international forums in 2011. So it is normal for ASEAN to also be able to make significant achievement in this case," he said. (*)

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Outbreak of Jellyfish Could Spell Trouble for Fisheries

Richard Stone Yale Environment 360 at Yale Environment 360 Reuters 28 Jan 11;

The world's oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a "new normal" in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.

Among the spineless creatures of the world, the Nomura's jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. It's the size of a refrigerator - imagine a Frigidaire Gallery Premiere rather than a hotel minibar - and can exceed 450 pounds. For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan. Only three times during the entire 20th century did numbers of the Nomura's swell to such gigantic proportions that they seriously clogged fishing nets.

Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded - in jelly parlance, bloomed - six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.

Why has the Nomura's jellyfish become a recurring nightmare? The answer could portend trouble for the world's oceans. In recent years, populations of several jellyfish species have made inroads at the expense of their main competitor - fish - in a number of regions, including the Yellow Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Black Sea. Overfishing and deteriorating coastal water quality are chief suspects in the rise of jellies. Global warming may be adding fuel to the fire by making more food available to jellyfish and opening up new habitat. Now, researchers fear, conditions are becoming so bad that some ecosystems could be approaching a tipping point in which jellyfish supplant fish.

Essential to thwarting any potential jellyfish takeover is a better understanding of the complicated dynamics between fish and jellyfish. Jellyfish - free-swimming gelatinous animals - are a normal element of marine ecosystems. Fish and jellyfish both compete for plankton. The predators keep each other in check: 124 kinds of fish species and 34 other species, including leatherback turtles, are known to dine on jellyfish, while jellies prey on fish eggs and, occasionally, on fish themselves. Juvenile fish of some species take refuge amid tentacles and eat jellyfish parasites. Fish and jellyfish "interact in complex ways," says Kylie Pitt, an ecologist at Griffith University in Australia.

Overfishing can throw this complex relationship out of kilter. By removing a curb on jellyfish population growth, overfishing "opens up ecological space for jellyfish," says Anthony Richardson, an ecologist at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Cleveland, Australia. And as jellyfish flourish, he says, their predation on fish eggs takes a heavier and heavier toll on battered fish stocks.

"When an ecosystem is dominated by jellyfish, fish will mostly disappear," says ecologist Sun Song, director of the Institute of Oceanology in Qingdao, China. "Once that happens," he contends, "there is almost no method to deal with it." Just think of attempting to purge the Sea of Japan of billions of Nomura's jellyfish, many of them hovering meters below the surface and therefore invisible to satellites or the naked eye. Total jelly domination would be like turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago, when the ancestors of jellyfish ruled the seas.

Sun and others are racing to get a handle on the likelihood of such a marine meltdown coming true. Like their foe, the subject is slippery. It's an enigma, for starters, why particular jellyfish run rampant. The troublemakers "are only a small fraction of the several thousand species of jellyfish out there," says Richardson. These uber-jellies reproduce like mad, grow fast, eat most anything, and can withstand poor water quality. They are tough, Richardson says - "like cockroaches."

The big question is whether these cockroaches of the sea are poised to hijack marine ecosystems. There's anecdotal evidence that jellyfish blooms are becoming more frequent. But there are also cases in which jellyfish gained the upper hand on an ecosystem, only to suddenly relinquish it. For instance, biomass of Chrysaora jellyfish in the east Bering Sea rose sharply during the 1990s and peaked in 2000. Chrysaora then crashed and stabilized after 2001, apparently due to a combination of warmer sea temperatures and a rebound in numbers of walleye pollock, a competitor for zooplankton.

The jury is out on whether other jelly-blighted waters can regain ecological balance as quickly as the Bering Sea did. For that reason, says Pitt, no one can say for sure whether severe jellyfish blooms are a passing regional phenomenon or a global scourge requiring urgent measures to combat their spread.

Pitt is one of a small band of jellyfish researchers hoping to settle that question. With support from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif., she and her colleagues on the center's Jellyfish Working Group are gathering up datasets from around the world on jellyfish blooms. They expect to have a global picture - and be able to take the measure of their foe - in about a year, Pitt says.

Jellyfish clearly have an impact on human activity. Besides fouling fishing nets, they invade fish farms, block cooling intakes at coastal power plants, and force beach closures. Some jellies pose a mortal threat. Dozens of people die each year from jellyfish stings, far more than from encounters with other marine creatures, including sharks. A box jellyfish, the Chironex sea wasp, may be the most lethal animal on the planet: Its toxin can kill a person in three minutes. Global warming may allow deadly jellyfish, now mostly found in tropical and subtropical waters, to conquer new turf in temperate waters as sea surface temperatures rise, warns Richardson. "It's very likely that venomous jellyfish will move toward the poles," he says.

While that could be a big blow for tourism, far more worrisome to many researchers is the threat that jellies pose to fish stocks. The most important helping hand for jellyfish may be overfishing. In one well-documented episode, the devastation of sardine stocks appear to have cleared the way for the rise of Chrysaora off Namibia, in waters known as the northern Benguela. Recent research cruises there have hauled in about four times as much jelly biomass as fish biomass.

Another ecosystem tweak that benefits jellyfish is eutrophication. A flood of nutrients from agricultural runoff and sewage spurs phytoplankton growth in coastal waters, providing a feeding bonanza for jellyfish. Eutrophication, usually around the mouths of major rivers, can also create low-oxygen dead zones that jellyfish generally tolerate better than fish.

Global warming may also abet regime change. Warmer ocean temperatures are correlated with jellyfish blooms. A possible explanation, says Richardson, is that warming leads to nutrient-poor surface waters. Such conditions favor flagellates, a kind of zooplankton, over diatoms, a kind of phytoplankton. Flagellate-dominated food webs may be more favorable to jellyfish, he says.

For reasons yet to be fully fathomed, the waters off North Asia may be acutely vulnerable to a jellyfish invasion. Since 2000 or so, the Nomura's jellyfish and two other species - Aurelia aurita and Cyanea nozakii - have been plaguing the Yellow Sea. In the past 5 years, anchovy catches there have decreased 20-fold, says Sun. Perhaps as a result, just like off Namibia, jellyfish are seizing the day. During a research cruise in the Yellow Sea in the summer of 2009, jellyfish amounted to 95 percent of the biomass netted by the scientists.

Alarmed by this ascendancy of jellyfish, Sun is leading a five-year initiative to unravel why jellyfish have become a perennial pest. Among other things, his team will hunt for the elusive cradle of jellyfish in the Yellow Sea. Species of Cnidaria, the phylum with the vast majority of jellyfish, can spend years on the sea bottom as polyps. These reproduce asexually, popping off medusae - the familiar bell-shaped form of cnidarian jellies - that drift up toward the surface. Scientists speculate that polyps may be gaining a stronger foothold in North Asia at the expense of mollusks and other bottom-dwelling creatures. The Chinese group will search for polyps in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea.

One possibility in these seas is that coastal and offshore construction and engineering works are creating new habitat for polyps. Structures as diverse as drilling platforms, embankments, and aquaculture frames introduce smooth surfaces made of plastic and other materials into the marine environment. In the past two decades, as China's economy boomed, such structures have proliferated, says Yu Zhigang, a marine chemist at Ocean University of China in Qingdao. The Chinese initiative will test the hypothesis that artificial landscapes are cradles for jellyfish polyps.

The bottom line is that multiple factors may favor jellyfish over fish, says Shin-ichi Uye, an ecologist at Hiroshima University who has charted the rapid rise of the Nomura's jellyfish in the Sea of Japan. The recipe for what makes jellyfish run amuck likely varies by region, and for that reason may take time to decipher. But the future of the world's fisheries may well depend on it.

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Climate change growing risk for insurers: industry

Reuters 19 Jan 11;

Insurers are struggling to assess the risks from climate change, industry officials say, with the floods in Australia and Brazil highlighting the potential losses from greater extremes of weather.

Scientists say a warmer world will cause more intense drought, floods, cyclones as well as rising sea levels and the insurance industry says the number of weather-related disasters has already soared over the past several decades.

Adding to the risks is a growing human population, more people moving into cities, particularly in Asia, and more property in the path of increasingly volatile weather.

This makes it harder to tease out a direct climate change link in ever rising losses, experts say. Lack of long-term weather data in some parts of the world is also clouding the picture.

Another problem is the narrow time horizon insurers typically focus on. Reinsurers, for instance, renew their contracts annually based on past losses, meaning they aren't so concerned about trends decades in the future.

"There is still a fair amount of uncertainly as to climate change and the attribution of climate change to natural events or man-made and therefore it has not translated yet into the pricing," Yves Guerard, secretary-general of the Ottawa-based International Actuarial Association, told Reuters.

Some insurers are seeing a climate change link and rising risks.

"Ignoring global warming will risk an increasing exposure and therefore insured losses will escalate," said Scott Ryrie, CEO of Allianz SE Reinsurance Asia-Pacific in Singapore.

"I believe climate change will add something to the losses we see already but I don't believe losses will be dramatically changing. It's just going to make the losses worse," he told a climate change and insurance conference in Singapore.

Rapidly growing megacities were a major concern for the market, he said, pointing to UN data showing 231 million people living in cities in Asia in 1950. By 2050, that figure is forecast to grow to nearly 3.5 billion.

"Increased exposures with megacities coming up, low insurance penetration and key exposures being in emerging markets where most of the insurance growth has been happening. That's a time bomb," said Jan Mumenthaler, head of the International Finance Corporation's insurance services group.


In Australia, rising coastal urbanization and a rapidly expanding mining sector means a growing risk of weather-related insurance losses. The government has said the floods since last month are expected to be the nation's costliest natural disaster, with damage and reconstruction estimates between $5 billion and $20 billion.

"In some regions of the world, we have already seen changes in the patterns in terms of frequency and intensity of these events," said Ernst Rauch of global reinsurer Munich Re.

He pointed to changes in rainfall patterns and more intense thunderstorms, hailstorms and tornados. "The U.S. is a prime example but also parts of Europe," he told Reuters in Singapore.

"But you cannot generalize and say that the weather patterns have changed already in all parts of the world in the same way. There is no evidence for this," said Rauch, head of the firm's Corporate Climate Center.

Munich Re says the number of weather-related natural catastrophes has more than doubled since 1980.

Overall losses from weather-related natural catastrophes rose by a factor of 3 in the period 1980-2009, taking inflation into account, while insured losses from such events increased by a factor of about 4 during the same period. Total insured losses from natural disasters in 2010 was $37 billion, it says.

While taking into account rising wealth, population and urbanization, "there is evidence indicating that the growing number of weather-related catastrophes most probably cannot be fully explained without climate change," the company says.

Rauch said the industry was struggling to get an accurate picture of the extent of climate change risks.

"It is not easy. And quite frankly, it would help if more companies in our industry would have more expertise and experts analyzing these risks," he said.

Insurers use complex models to calculate catastrophe risks, but here, too, there were challenges.

"There's a huge amount of variability in the models and understanding that variability is hugely key," said David Simmons, managing director, analytics, of the Willis Group, a global insurance broker.

"And climate change adds another layer on to that. And so it's very hard. There's a fundamental lack of data," he said, pointing to lack of long-term global weather data.

"So trying to dis-engage natural climate variability -- there are cyclical changes like El Nino and La Nina -- and then any underlying thing, is tough. But we are getting better at it," he told Reuters at the conference.

(Editing by Ed Lane)

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Climate change study had 'significant error': experts

Kerry Sheridan Yahoo News 19 Jan 11;

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A climate change study that projected a 2.4 degree Celsius increase in temperature and massive worldwide food shortages in the next decade was seriously flawed, scientists said Wednesday.

The study was posted Tuesday on EurekAlert, a independent service for reporters set up by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was written about by numerous international news agencies, including AFP.

But AAAS later retracted the study as experts cited numerous errors in its approach.

"A reporter with The Guardian alerted us yesterday to concerns about the news release submitted by Hoffman & Hoffman public relations," said AAAS spokeswoman Ginger Pinholster in an email to AFP.

"We immediately contacted a climate change expert, who confirmed that the information raised many questions in his mind, too. We swiftly removed the news release from our website and contacted the submitting organization."

Scientist Osvaldo Canziani, who was part of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was listed as the scientific advisor to the report.

The IPCC, whose figures were cited as the basis for the study's projections, and Al Gore jointly won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007 "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change," the prize committee said at the time.

Canziani's spokesman said Tuesday he was ill and was unavailable for interviews.

The study cited the UN group's figures for its projections, combined with "the business-as-usual path the world is currently following," said lead author Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund (UEF), a non-profit group headquartered in Argentina.

But climate scientist Ray Weymann told AFP that the "study contains a significant error in that it confuses 'equilibrium' temperature rise with 'transient temperature rise.'"

He also noted that study author Hisas was told of the problems in advance of the report's release.

"The author of the study was told by several of us about this error but she said it was too late to change it," said Weymann.

Scientist Scott Mandia forwarded to AFP an email he said he sent to Hisas ahead of publication explaining why her figures did not add up, and noting that it would take "quite a few decades" to reach a warming level of 2.4 degrees Celsius.

"Even if we assume the higher end of the current warming rate, we should only be 0.2C warmer by 2020 than today," Mandia wrote.

"To get to +2.4C the current trend would have to immediately increase almost ten-fold."

Mandia described the mishap as an "honest and common mistake," but said the matter would certainly give fuel to skeptics of humans' role in climate change.

"More alarmism," said Mandia. "Don't get me wrong. We are headed to 2.4, it is just not going to happen in 2020."

Many people do not understand the cumulative effect of carbon emissions and how they impact climate change, Mandia said.

"This is something that people don't appreciate. We tied a record in 2010 (for temperature records) globally. That is primarily from the C02 we put in the atmosphere in the 70s and early 80s, and we have been ramping up since then," he said.

"So it is not good. We are seeing the response from a mistake we were making 20 years ago, and we are making bigger mistakes today."

Marshall Hoffman of the public relations firm that issued the report on the UEF's behalf said the group stands by the study.

"Earlier, NASA and NOAA estimated that the global temperature increased one degree from 2005-2010. If this stays on the same path, that will be two degrees by 2015. We see that path increasing more rapidly," Hoffman said, in part, in his explanation.

Asked for comment on Hoffman's response, Mandia told AFP: "He is still confused."

Online news service promotes false climate change study
EurekAlert! carried a study with unfounded global warming claims that the planet would warm by 2.4C by 2020
Suzanne Goldenberg 19 Jan 11;

An online news service sponsored by the world's premier scientific association unwittingly promoted a study making the false claim that catastrophic global warming would occur within nine years, the Guardian has learned.

The study, by an NGO based in Argentina, claimed the planet would warm by 2.4C by 2020 and projected dire consequences for global food supply. A press release for the Food Gap study was carried by EurekAlert!, the news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) , and the story was picked up by a number of international news organisations on Tuesday.

"This is happening much faster than we expected," Liliana Hisas, executive director of the Universal Ecological Fund (UEF) and author of the study, said of her findings.

But, in an episode recalling criticism of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), when the UN climate science body wrongly claimed the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035• , the UEF claims about rising temperatures over the next decade were unfounded.

Climate change is happening much faster than previously thought. But warming at such a rapid rate over the next decade is impossible, climate scientists said.

In an email, Gavin Schmidt, a Nasa climatologist wrote: "2.4C by 2020 (which is 1.4C in the next 10 years – something like six to seven times the projected rate of warming) has no basis in fact."

The AAAS, which runs the EurekAlert! News service, removed reference to the study from its website on Tuesday afternoon.

"We primarily rely on the submitting organisation to ensure the veracity of the scientific content of the news release," Ginger Pinholster, director of the office of public programmes for AAAS said.

"In this case, we immediately contacted a climate-change expert after receiving your query. That expert has confirmed for us that the information indeed raises many questions in his mind, and therefore we have removed the news release from EurekAlert!"

But by then the study had been picked up by a number of international news organisations including the French news agency AFP, Spain's EFE news agency, the Canadian CTV television network and the Vancouver Sun, and the Press Trust of India.

For some climate scientists, the false claims made by the UEF paper recalled the highly damaging episode in which the IPCC, the UN's climate science body, included the false information about melting of the Himalayan glaciers in its 2007 report.

The mistake was a public relations disaster for the IPCC and led to calls for the resignation of its chair, Rajendra Pachauri.

It was also exploited by climate sceptics to undermine the science of climate change, and is seen by some as having set back efforts in the US for action on climate change.

In this instance, climate scientists said it appeared Hisas had overlooked the influence exerted by the oceans, which absorb heat, thus delaying the effects of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

Ray Weymann, a founder of a volunteer rapid-response force aimed at countering misconceptions about climate science, said: "The author has a fundamental misunderstanding."

Hisas, for her part, said her findings had been endorsed by an Argentine scientist, Osvaldo Canziani, who had worked on the IPCC's fourth assessment report on the state of climate science, and was credited as an adviser to the UEF.

Hisas's main finding, that climate change would disrupt the supply of basic staples such as wheat and rice, was largely in line with other recent reports.

She said the UEF did not intend to withdraw the report. "We are just going to go ahead with it. I don't have a choice now," she said. "The scientist I have been working with checked everything and according to him it's not wrong."

Marshall Hoffman, owner of the PR agency which placed the notice on the AAAS website, argued the a number of recent studies had all shown warming at a much faster rate than predicted by the IPCC in its most recent report. "The thing is, we have already put it on the internet and we had already got a lot of calls on it," he said. "This study is going to be bantered around for months. It doesn't make any difference whether it is released now, or we try to pull it back."

Canziani did not immediately respond to email. Hisas and sources in Buenos Aires said he was ill.

Canziani was co-chair of the IPCC's working group 2, which looked at the effects of climate change. The erroneous claim on Himalayan glaciers in the 2007 report was in the section overseen by working group 2.

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2010 Was Second Hottest Year On Record, Data Shows

Gerard Wynn and Alister Doyle PlanetArk 20 Jan 11;

Last year was the world's second warmest behind 1998 in a temperature record dating back to 1850, adding to evidence of a long-term trend of climate change, data from British institutes showed on Wednesday.

Phil Jones, director of research at Britain's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), told Reuters world surface temperatures in 2010 were about 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) above the average for 1961-1990.

His unit, compiling data with the Met Office Hadley Center, is one of three main groups worldwide tracking global warming. Last week the other two, based in the United States, said 2010 was tied for the hottest on record.

Jones said the data showed that all but one year in the past decade were among the 10 hottest on record, underlining a warming trend linked to human emissions of greenhouse gases.

"All the years from 2001 to 2010, except 2008, were in the top ten," he said. The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization compiles a ranking from all three sources.

The fight against global warming suffered a setback in the wake of the financial crisis, slowing funding for renewable energy projects and knocking momentum from efforts to agree a climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2013.

The new data appeared to bolster evidence for man-made climate change, after leaked e-mails, including from the CRU, showed climate scientists in 2009 sniping at skeptics. Errors made by a U.N. climate panel also exaggerated the pace of melt of glaciers in the Himalayas.

Last year was 0.498 degrees Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) above the 1961-1990 average, the CRU and Hadley data showed, compared with 1998's 0.517 degree. The nearest year below 2010 was 2005, at 0.474 degree warmer than the long-term average.

Droughts in Russia, China and Argentina, which stoked record food prices, coupled with floods last year in Pakistan and China have underlined the threat from extreme weather.

Some parts of Europe, Russia and the United States suffered a cold 2010, against the global trend.

Last month, a U.N. meeting in Cancun, Mexico, agreed to raise climate aid for poor countries, but failed to convince analysts that the world could agree a binding deal on emissions after the present round of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

Governments agreed in Cancun to limit average global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but national emissions pledges so far are too weak to meet that target. Temperatures have already risen about 0.8 degrees C.

Energy security fears may more successfully drive investment in low-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels, but environmental investors say evidence of climate change helps.

The 10 warmest years have been since 1998, when temperatures were boosted by a strong El Nino weather event, a natural shift which brings warm waters to the surface of the Pacific Ocean every few years.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) said last week that 2010 was tied for the hottest year with 2005.

The U.S. and British groups use similar observations but in slightly different ways. For example, GISS takes greater account of Arctic weather stations, where warming has been fastest.

All the warmest years are separated by only a few fractions of a degree.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

2010 warmest ever year, says UN weather agency
Peter Capella Yahoo News 20 Jan 11;

GENEVA (AFP) – The UN's World Meteorological Organisation said Thursday that 2010 was the warmest year on record, confirming a "significant" long-term trend of global warming and producing exceptional weather variations.

The trend also helped to melt Arctic sea ice cover to a record low for December last month, the WMO said in a statement.

Last year "ranked as the warmest year on record, together with 2005 and 1998," the WMO added, confirming preliminary findings released at the global climate conference early December that were based on a 10-month period.

"The 2010 data confirm the Earth's significant long-term warming trend," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said. "The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998."

In 2010, the global average temperature was 0.53 degrees Celsius (0.95 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1961 to 1990 mean that is used as a yardstick for climate measurements, according to the WMO, basing itself on a broad set of US and British-collected data.

That exceeded 2005 levels by 0.01 C (0.02 F) and was 0.02 C (0.05 F) above the 1998 mark, but within a margin of error that made the difference between the three years statistically insignificant, according to the WMO.

"Arctic sea ice cover in December 2010 was the lowest on record" for the month, the WMO also found.

Sea ice around the northern polar region shrank to an average monthly extent of 12 million square kilometres, 1.35 million square kilometres below the 1979 to 2000 December average, according to the UN weather agency.

"There's no good news with respect to that -- the Arctic ice continues to be extremely low," Jarraud told journalists.

Over the past decade, global temperatures have been the highest-ever recorded for a 10-year period since the beginning of instrument-based climate measurements in the mid-19th century.

Last month, even before the year was over, Jarraud confirmed that 2001 to 2010 set a new record as the warmest decade ever.

Recent warming has been especially strong in Africa, parts of Asia, and parts of the Arctic, according to the UN agency.

2010 turned out to be "an exceptionally warm year" in much of Africa and southern and western Asia, as well as in Greenland and Arctic Canada, but there were big variations worldwide.

Northern Europe and Australia were significantly cooler than average, with "abnormally cold" conditions for large parts of western Europe in December, including parts of Scandinavia.

The year was also marked "by a high number of extreme weather events" including Russia's summer heatwave and the devastating monsoon floods in Pakistan.

The agency says that the temperature observations on their own do not pin the cause on man-made greenhouse gases, although it believes this is confirmed separately by other research into carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Britain's Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia released provisional global figures on Thursday indicating that 2010 was the "second warmest year on record" with a mean temperature of a 14.5 degrees C.

Meanwhile US institutes including NASA have calculated that 2010 was the equal warmest or warmest in global terms. The WMO's figures were based on data from British and US agencies including the Britain's Met Office.

"Self-proclaimed climate change 'sceptics' may still try to claim that global warming stopped in 1998, but they cannot explain away the fact that nine of the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000," said Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics (LSE).

New Climate Data Shows Warming World: WMO
Stephanie Nebehay PlanetArk 21 Jan 11;

Last year tied for the hottest year on record, confirming a long-term warming trend which will continue unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday.

The first 10 years of the millennium proved to be the hottest decade since records began in the 19th century, it said.

"The main signal is that the warming trend continues and is being strengthened year after year," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference.

"The trend, unfortunately, will continue for a number of years but the amplitude will depend on the amount of greenhouse gases released," the Frenchman added. "It will depend on action taken to minimize the release of greenhouse gases."

Jarraud said the latest data should convince doubters about the growing evidence for man-made climate change. "If they look at it in an unbiased way, it should convince them, or hopefully a few of them, that the skeptical position is untenable."

2010 was also marked by further melting of Arctic ice -- in December its extent was at its lowest on record, the WMO said -- and by extreme weather, including Russia's heatwave and devastating floods in Pakistan.

Rising temperatures, already about 0.8 degree Celsius above pre-industrial times, mean the world will struggle to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed by almost 200 nations at U.N. talks last month in Mexico.

Many experts see 2C as a threshold for dangerous climate change, like more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

"We have to act very fast and strongly" to limit emissions, said Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

He noted that many skeptics say global warming has stopped because of no new records since 1998, when temperatures were boosted by a strong El Nino event that warms the Pacific.

"But they cannot explain away the fact that nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2000," he said.

"Data received by the WMO show no statistically significant difference between global temperatures in 2010, 2005 and 1998," the United Nations body, which compiles its ranking from data provided by British and U.S. agencies, said in a statement.

Data from British institutes on Wednesday showed last year was the world's second warmest behind 1998, while the other two main groups tracking global warming, based in the United States, said 2010 was tied for the hottest on record.

Over the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, global temperatures have averaged 0.45 degrees Celsius (0.83 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1961-1990 average and are the highest ever recorded for a 10-year period since climate records began, WMO said.

The difference between the three hottest years was less than the margin of uncertainty in comparing the data, according to WMO, whose assessment is based on climate data from land-based weather and climate stations, ships, buoys and satellites.

The fight against global warming suffered a setback in the wake of the financial crisis, slowing funding for renewable energy projects and knocking momentum from international efforts to agree a climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2013.

(Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Janet Lawrence)

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