Best of our wild blogs: 21 Mar 12

New records of civet, crabs and other critters on Nature in Singapore
from Celebrating Singapore's BioDiversity!

Join as a day participant in the Bivalve workshop, 23-27 July
from wild shores of singapore

Pasir Ris Boardwalk with Naked Hermit Crabs!
from Psychedelic Nature

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SLA grants extension to 'illegal farmers' in Clementi

Olivia Siong Channel NewsAsia 20 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE: Residents who have been illegally using State land at Clementi Avenue 4 for farming were given a reprieve on Tuesday.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has granted a three-month extension to those who have identified themselves.

They had originally been asked to vacate by March 20.

The land was formerly occupied by the Malaysian Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) but it has since been returned to Singapore.

So far, 13 individuals have come forward and they will work with grassroots organisations for an acceptable arrangement during the grace period.

The others have been given till April 3 to identify themselves.

The three months grace period will also be extended to them if they come forward between now and April 3.

If they do not do so, SLA said it will have no choice but to dismantle and remove the enclosed areas and illegal structures.

Measures are also in place to address health concerns, like mosquito breeding and the burning of leaves.

SLA said vector control has been carried out to prevent mosquito breeding in stagnant ponds and signs will be put up to warn the public of potential dangers such as potholes and ponds.

Advisory notices will also be put up against the illegal burning of leaves after some residents in nearby blocks had earlier complained that the burning had caused discomfort, especially for those with breathing problems.

SLA said the land has been reserved under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan 2008 but there are no immediate plans for the site.

The area's MP Sim Ann welcomed the move.

Earlier, on behalf of those using the land, Ms Sim had asked SLA for more time to resolve the matter.

Ms Sim said: "(It is) good of SLA to offer an extension to users who have identified themselves. I'm also very glad to know that the users are prepared to abide by all public health and safety regulations because that's important. The grassroots will use this time to consider views from the residents and see if we should apply for a temporary use of state land for community purposes, pending future plans for development."

SLA said it will step up surveillance of the area and work with grassroots and residents to detect illegal activities, like the burning of leaves.

It will continue to consult grassroots organisations on possible interim use of the land that will benefit the wider community.

It's understood that grassroots organisations are considering whether to take up a Temporary Occupational License for community use.

Community garden in Moulmein-Kallang flourishing
Lim Wee Leng Channel NewsAsia 20 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE : A community garden built on state land is flourishing in a neighbourhood in central Singapore.

Residents in Moulmein-Kallang have been tending to the Goldhill Community Garden since 2008.

They obtained approval from authorities to convert the patch of land, which had been misused by some to dump their rubbish.

Today, the area is tended by over 100 residents who grow crops like lentils, winter melons and lady's fingers.

The Goldhill Community Garden has an open concept. It is not fenced up.

The project has even attracted residents from beyond the constituency, some who come as early as 6am to do their gardening.

Ang Kian Chuan, chairman of the Moulmein Goldhill Neighbourhood Committee, said: "The most important thing was that the neighbours were quite united in wanting this community garden.

"One concern was that we should not cause any disruption or any problems environmentally, and in terms of noise, problems to the neighbours, we were able to convince them that we will be responsible."

- CNA/ms

SLA extends deadline for 'illegal farmers' to vacate state land
Olivia Siong Today Online 21 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE - Residents who illegally used state land at Clementi Avenue for farming were given a reprieve yesterday as the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) granted a three-month extension to the 13 individuals who have identified themselves.

The individuals, who were supposed to vacate the area by yesterday, will work with grassroots organisations towards an acceptable arrangement.

The remaining residents will also be given a three-month grace period, if they step forward by April 3. Otherwise, the SLA said it will have "no choice but to dismantle and remove the enclosed areas and illegal structures".

The land was formerly occupied by Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) but has since been returned to Singapore.

Meanwhile, vector control has been carried out to prevent mosquito breeding and signs will be put up to warn the public of dangers such as potholes. Advisory notices will also be put up against the illegal burning of leaves.

The SLA said it will step up surveillance and work with the grassroots organisations and residents to detect illegal activities.

According to the SLA, the land has been reserved under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan 2008 but there are no immediate plans for the site. It will continue to consult grassroots organisations on possible interim use.

The area's Member of Parliament Sim Ann said the grassroots organisations will consider residents' views and decide if they should apply for a license to use the land temporarily for community purposes.

In a statement, Ms Sim said: "(It is) good of the SLA to offer an extension to users who have identified themselves."

The Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS) yesterday appealed to the SLA to allow the area - coined the Clementi Garden by the NSS - to continue to be used as a community fruit and vegetable garden, under the NParks' Community in Bloom scheme.

In a letter addressed to SLA chief executive Vincent Hoong, NSS president Shawn Lum pointed out that the area was part of the railway lands which the NSS had recommended to be retained as a Green Corridor and a community garden would be a "suitable development".

"Properly implemented, the Clementi Garden will be a place where the elderly residents can practice active ageing, where families and neighbours can bond over gardening and where the young can have hands-on science lessons and develop a sense of responsibility in caring for the garden," he said.

Dr Lum added that the NSS is ready to work with agencies and residents to maintain the area as part of the Green Corridor.

Clementi farmers get 3 months' respite
That's the time given by SLA to work out a deal with grassroots groups
Grace Chua Straits Times 21 Mar 12;

THE Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has given those farming illegally in Clementi another three months to work out an 'acceptable' solution, it said yesterday.

Farmers will be given time to work out a deal with grassroots organisations (GROs) 'that is acceptable to SLA and the GROs', said the agency in a statement.

The 1,800 sq m strip of land, bounded by the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway line, Sungei Ulu Pandan, Clementi Avenue 4 and Clementi Avenue6, is state land, and those who toil there violate encroachment laws. It could be turned into one of the most spacious community gardens on the island to benefit the young and old, advocates say. But much hinges on GROs' support.

Local residents have grown fruit and vegetables on the plot of land for three decades. But some residents complained of mosquito breeding and smoke from burning leaves, spurring the land management agency to order the farmers out.

Yesterday was the original deadline, and those who maintain a small temple at the site had already dismantled much of that structure. But that deadline was changed last week, after Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Sim Ann, who oversees the area, stepped in to mediate.

Then, the SLA asked the farmers to come forward and identify themselves. So far, 13 have done so.

Those who have not come forward have another two weeks to do so, until April 3. Otherwise, 'SLA will have no choice but to proceed to dismantle and remove the enclosed areas and illegal structures', the agency said.

In response to the statement, Ms Sim said: 'It is good of SLA to offer a three- month extension to those land users who have identified themselves.

'We are also glad to know that the users are prepared to abide by all public health and safety regulations.'

Mr Lester Yeong, 35, whose father farms a patch near Clementi Avenue 6, said he spoke to 12 of the 15 regular farmers, who have agreed to stop burning leaves, clear containers that might be mosquito-breeding grounds, and maintain the garden areas so they are neat.

Bukit Timah grassroots groups are forming a committee to seek ground-up feedback and ideas on what can be done with the land, said Mr Edwin Pang, vice-chairman of the Bukit Timah Zone 4 Residents' Committee.

One example, he said, would be to keep the kampung-style farming going, though maintenance and cost would need to be considered.

On the Clementi side, Mr Arthur Fong, MP for the division in West Coast GRC, said residents were welcome to join an existing community garden group, or a soon-to-be-formed community garden interest group in the next few months.

But the newest community garden in the precinct will be no more than 135 sqm, about the size of an executive Housing Board flat. Many 'official' community gardens, Mr Yeong pointed out, are already over-subscribed.

Mr Fong explained that the illegal farm is on SLA land outside of Clementi division, so existing Clementi grassroots organisations should not apply for a temporary occupancy licence for it. However, he would be glad to explore cross-collaborations with the Bukit Timah side, which is part of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

At least one other community garden sits on public land, under a temporary occupancy licence. In a 1km stretch underneath the MRT track from Paya Lebar to Eunos, about 40 residents from Eunos Road 5 tend to individual plots. The HDB owns the land, and the residents' committee pays the annual rent of $400 to $500.

The Nature Society (Singapore) has also thrown its hat into the ring in support of the Clementi farmers. In a letter to the SLA yesterday, its president Shawn Lum suggested that the land be kept as a community fruit and vegetable garden.

'As the Clementi Garden is part of the railway lands which NSS had strongly recommended to be retained as a Green Corridor, being a valuable piece of ecological and historical heritage, such a community garden would be a very suitable development for that plot of land.'

Read more!

‘Bukit Brown meeting never intended to be type of dialogue desired and claimed by these groups’

Chua Yini SingaporeScene Yahoo News 20 Mar 12;

A meeting held on Monday night was not intended to satisfy Bukit Brown interest groups, said MND Minister Tan Chuan-Jin. (AFP file photo)A meeting held on Monday night was not intended to satisfy Bukit Brown interest groups, said MND Minister Tan Chuan-Jin. …

The Bukit Brown meeting between interest groups and government agencies was "deemed to be an inadequate effort at genuine engagement" because it did not satisfy their demands, said Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Minister said that Monday's two-hour closed-door meeting on the fate of Bukit Brown was "never intended to be the type of dialogue desired and claimed by these [environment and heritage] groups".

"Because we failed to conduct a session that was in line with what they [environment and heritage groups] wanted [to have their own briefs and invite others on their invite list] it was deemed to be an inadequate effort at genuine engagement," Tan wrote.

Tan said that the meeting was held to share with the group background information and considerations, and to highlight the road plans which were announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Monday.

LTA had revealed that one-third of a new road across Bukit Brown will be elevated 10m off the ground, a move which is expected to cost more but is seen as a concession to the environment and heritage groups.

Following the meeting on Monday night, the group released a statement at about 10.25pm, requesting for a moratorium on all works at Bukit Brown.

The eight-point statement said that plans to develop the Bukit Brown area should be halted until there is "clarity over long-term plans for the area and discussions over alternatives have been exhausted".

The statement, which also expressed "dismay and disappointment" at the way the meeting was organised, was signed by Nature Society (Singapore), the Singapore Heritage Society, Asia Paranormal Investigators, All Things Bukit Brown, SOS Bukit Brown, Green Corridor and Green Drinks.

The statement alleged that government agencies had postponed an original meeting scheduled for 20 February with 31 representatives from the groups. An invitation for another meeting was sent out on 14 March, but only to a few of the original 31 representatives.

According to the statement, the two decisions to allow only those invited by the Ministry of National Development (MND) and to one representative per group gave "a strong impression of the lack of good faith on the part of MND".

The interest groups were also unhappy that the meeting was only held after LTA's announcement of the road plans, which "demonstrates the old practice of presenting decisions" instead of having "genuine engagement and discussion".

In an earlier Facebook post at about 9pm on Monday, Tan said that the decision to proceed with the construction of the road "has not been an easy one".

"While we have not been able to fully accommodate their [interest groups] wishes, we have taken many of their views into consideration," he wrote, citing the decision to document graves that would be exhumed due to the road construction.

He added that LTA has also factored in feedback from the interest groups in the design of the road, so as to "minimise impact to the cemetery, hydrology and biodiversity".

Bukit Brown session was to explain govt's decision: Tan Chuan-Jin
Channel NewsAsia 20 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE: Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin said the session with the Bukit Brown interest groups on March 19 was to explain the thinking behind the government's considerations.

He said the session was meant to provide information on how the government came up with its final decision, and more importantly, to discuss on "how to move forward".

Mr Tan was responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia over the meeting which he described as "cordial".

He noted that the subsequent statement issued by the seven interest groups, was one of the perspectives on the issue.

Despite several consultations in the past six months, civic groups are still unhappy and have continued to raise concerns over the road alignment.

The Ministry of National Development added it has also been engaging a broad spectrum of Singaporeans who have an interest in Bukit Brown.

This is in addition to the feedback from forum letters and emails.

- CNA/fa

Bukit Brown meeting 'not a consultation'
It was not in response to interest groups' request: Tan Chuan-Jin
Goh Chin Lian & Royston Sim Straits Times 21 Mar 12;

WHEN government officials met nature and heritage groups over plans for a new road in Bukit Brown on Monday, they never meant it to be a consultation on whether the road would be built or not.

The session was also not called in response to those groups' earlier request to meet government agencies, said Minister of State (National Development and Manpower) Tan Chuan-Jin, who had chaired the meeting.

He was responding to criticisms by seven groups, including the Nature Society (Singapore) and the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS), that they were not given time to make their own presentations of alternatives at the meeting.

The groups also said government agencies had postponed a Feb 20 meeting the groups had requested with 31 of their representatives, only to have the Ministry of National Development (MND) invite only a few of the original 31 representatives, and others, to the Monday night meeting.

Together with the decision to limit the representation of groups to one person from each group, these moves 'give a strong impression of the lack of good faith on the part of MND', they said in a statement released at 10.25pm on Monday.

Barely six hours later, in a Facebook posting at about 4.30am yesterday, Mr Tan said: 'It is illuminating to read the statement issued by the various groups.'

He said the meeting 'was never intended to be the type of dialogue desired and claimed by these groups. Nor was it a response to their earlier request'.

'I had explained that our intent was simply to share with a range of stakeholders some of the background information and considerations we had previously shared with other groups and to also highlight the road plans which were being announced,' he said.

'It was not a consultation effort to debate whether the road would be built or not. That has already been stated in Parliament,' he said, referring to the debate on MND's budget on March 5.

He added that the meeting was to announce the details and alignment of the road. 'However, it was clear that it did not matter. Because we failed to conduct a session that was in line with what they wanted, for example, to have their own briefs, to invite others on their invite list, it was deemed to be an inadequate effort at genuine engagement.'

Participants of the meeting described the atmosphere as largely cordial and civil.

Last night, MND said Mr Tan initiated Monday's session as part of ongoing engagements with stakeholders to share the considerations in the road design.

'It was a separate meeting from the one where some of the interest groups had asked to meet the Land Transport Authority,' the MND said, referring to the Feb 20 meeting.

It added that Mr Tan had clarified this point with the participants during Monday's session.

Mr Tan's posting attracted 67 comments as of press time last night. Some said officials had done enough to engage interest groups. Others said that since the Government was already set on building the road before it consulted other parties, there was no genuine engagement.

Interviewed last night, the groups stuck to their criticisms of the Monday meeting. An SHS spokesman said it was disappointed that the authorities did not present sufficient data to show that every possible solution had been considered.

SOS Bukit Brown co-founder Erika Lim said Monday's meeting was the first time the groups' representatives were meeting the Government collectively.

She said: 'This was our first real chance to sit down as a group to talk about Bukit Brown. If we don't, what other chance is there?'

Nominated MP and Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan said both sides would learn valuable lessons on engaging each other through this episode.

Nature Society president Shawn Lum - who was not at the meeting - felt the episode boiled down to a difference in expectations.

While the Government has tried to retain much of the heritage in the affected area, the gap in expectations between the groups and the authorities could have widened somewhere along the line, he noted.

'How do you bridge those sets of expectations? Finding that bridge will be the way going forward.'

Naysayers want all works halted at Bukit Brown
They insist on not having a road across the cemetery
Goh Chin Lian & Royston Sim Straits Times 20 Mar 12;

After more than two hours of listening to officials on Monday night, representatives of several environment and heritage groups emerged from the closed-door meeting unconvinced that a road had to be built across part of Bukit Brown Cemetery.

They released a statement at 10.25pm calling for a moratorium on all works at Bukit Brown.

They also criticised the way the meeting, chaired by Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, was handled.

The statement was signed by seven groups: Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore Heritage Society, Asia Paranormal Investigators, All Things Bukit Brown, SOS Bukit Brown, Green Corridor and non-profit environmental group Green Drinks.

They argued that plans to develop housing and transport infrastructure in the Bukit Brown area cannot be made while national discussions were under way over housing, transportation and immigration, and before the public has had a chance to fully consider the details of the proposals.

This includes releasing detailed findings of studies of biodiversity and hydrology, as well as projections on housing and transport.

They said: 'This moratorium should be in place until there is clarity over long-term plans for the area and discussions over alternatives have been exhausted.'

In their eight-point statement, they also alleged that government agencies had postponed a Feb 20 meeting that the groups had requested with 31 of their representatives, only to have the Ministry of National Development (MND) invite only a few of the original 31 representatives, and others, to Monday night's meeting. It was held at the Urban Redevelopment Authority headquarters in Maxwell Road.

Together with the decision to limit the representation of groups to one person from each group, they said, these moves 'give a strong impression of the lack of good faith on the part of MND'.

They also objected to the meeting being held after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had already announced its road plans to the media earlier on Monday morning, and alleged that they were told no time would be given at the meeting for them to make their own presentations of alternatives. 'We regret that this meeting has largely turned out to be a unilateral dissemination of information by particular agencies,' they said.

The LTA had embargoed the release of the road plans until 9pm.

Mr Tan acknowledged last night that the decision to go ahead with building the road disappointed those who wanted to conserve Bukit Brown. In a Facebook post at about 9.30pm after the meeting with the groups ended, he said the decision was not an easy one. 'While we have not been able to fully accommodate their wishes, we have taken many of their views into consideration,' he said.

This included a serious documentation of the affected graves, following advice from the Singapore Heritage Society. The road design also factored in feedback to minimise impact to the cemetery, hydrology and biodiversity, he said.

'Going forward, we need to continue with these conversations,' he said. 'We are now looking at working with interested stakeholders on public outreach to commemorate the history and heritage of Bukit Brown even as we continue with work on documentation.'

Preliminary documentation of affected graves was completed earlier this month, and a team of researchers and field workers will continue to document the family histories, stories and memories associated with the cemetery, as well as the rituals carried out during the Qing Ming festival and exhumation of graves, the LTA said.

Public exhumation of affected graves will begin from early next year to give the next of kin more time to register their claims, it added.

Members of Parliament like Ms Lee Bee Wah, Mr Seah Kian Peng and Mr Lim Biow Chuan, as well as political observers interviewed, felt that the latest plans reflect an effort to strike a balance among competing interests, and were the result of active consultation and engagement with various interest groups.

'Singapore is so small and needs land for redevelopment. We need to strike a balance,' said Ms Lee, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and the Environment.

Asked if the authorities had accomplished this in its latest decision, she said: 'It shows there is give and take. There are bound to be people who have differing views, but sometimes it's difficult to make everyone happy.'

Dr Hui Yew Foong, an anthropologist from the Institute of South-east Asian Studies, who heads the documentation efforts, declined to comment on the elevated road project when contacted, saying it made 'no difference' to his work.

'Minimal impact' to Bukit Brown surrounding
Sumita Sreedharan Today Online 21 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE - The new road across Bukit Brown Cemetery will feature a vehicular bridge that will run for nearly a third of its 2km length, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as it announced the road's final alignment yesterday.

The 670m vehicular bridge, which will run over existing creeks in the area, will minimise "impact to the existing terrain and surrounding environment", while allowing for wildlife movement under it.

The construction of the new road will also see less graves being exhumed. A total of 3,746 graves from Bukit Brown and Seh Ong cemeteries will be affected, less than the 5,000 originally expected.

Next-of-kin of graves affected by the construction have till the end of this year to register their claim before exhumation begins in early 2013. A full list of affected graves will be published in the newspapers and on the LTA website, and next-of-kin can register with the LTA by post, fax, online, or in person.

In arriving at its final alignment, the LTA said yesterday it "minimises land take in the area and impact to the existing terrain and surrounding environment".

First announced in September, the new dual four-lane road is expected to alleviate the congestion currently experienced along Lornie Road and the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) during peak hours and cater to expected growth in traffic. Lornie Road will also be converted to a dual two-lane road with the extra area to be used as a park.

Despite several consultations over the past six months, some civic groups continued to raise concerns over the road alignment yesterday. Dr Ho Hua Chew, who is an executive committee member at the Nature Society Singapore, told Channel NewsAsia: "A lot of forest birds can be badly affected. If it's under shadow, the vegetation will not flourish."

Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who chaired a briefing and discussion with groups on the road last night, said the decision to proceed with construction has understandably "caused disappointment to those who want to conserve Bukit Brown". "I want to give assurance to those who have been giving us their views on this matter that the decision has not been an easy one," Mr Tan wrote on his Facebook page. "While we have not been able to fully accommodate their wishes, we have taken many of their views into consideration."

For instance, he noted the decision to embark on a serious documentation of the affected graves was a result of advice received from the heritage society. The LTA has also factored in feedback in its design of the road to minimise impact to the cemetery, hydrology and biodiversity, said Mr Tan. "Going forward, we need to continue with these conversations ... For example, we are now looking at working with interested stakeholders on public outreach to commemorate the history and heritage of Bukit Brown even as we continue with work on documentation."

When asked if the vehicular bridge would impact the cost of building the new road, an LTA spokesperson said: "Tenders have not been called at this point and the project cost will only be available after the tender is awarded." Construction of the road is expected to complete by 2016.

Read more!

When dead fish wash ashore at Pasir Ris

Esther Ng Today Online 21 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE - A layer of white covered the muddy banks of Sungei Api Api yesterday, as thousands of white fish, measuring 5cm long each, were washed up onto the shore.

The smell of rotting fish could be detected as far as 30m away from the river, which flows through the Pasir Ris estate.

"I was frying chicken, but all I smelt was fish," said homemaker Wati Mansor, 47. "The smell was very strong - it even went up to my master bedroom - I felt like I was in a wet market." Mdm Wati's second-floor mansionette at Elias Road overlooks the river.

In all her 10 years living in Pasir Ris, this is the first time such an incident has happened, Mdm Wati said. This was confirmed by other residents.

Mr Mark Rodrigues, a resident and chief controller at SMRT, told Today that the stench turned up after 3pm. "This is the first time that we have fish dying on the banks," he said.

A foreman from Neo Lian Poh Construction, who only gave his name as Wanz, agreed. He told Today that he and his crew have been cleaning the river for two years and there had been no such incidents previously. He said the dead fish were ikan bilis and ikan tamban. About 30 men in reflective vests were spotted cleaning up the banks yesterday.

Mr Rodrigues and Mr Wanz believed that the dead fish came from Serangoon Harbour, near Pulau Ubin, and both were puzzled about the cause of death.

Residents told Today that the river is commonly used for recreational activities such as canoeing and fishing. The sight of thousands of dead fish yesterday spooked some of them.

"If the fish died because the water was polluted and people eat their catch, there's a health concern," said Mdm Wati.

Pasir Ris resident Heidi A said: "I'm wondering whether the water is polluted because it's near Pasir Ris beach which until recently was not safe for water activities."

According to national water agency PUB, the dead fish were found at the mouth of Sungei Api Api and along Pasir Ris beach yesterday. "(They) were likely to have been washed in by the tide, and some of them were deposited on the river bed of Sungei Api Api. The contractors are currently clearing the dead fishes," it said.

"PUB assures the public that this incident has no impact on drinking water quality. The water in Sungei Api Api is not used for the drinking water supply."

The National Environment Agency is also investigating the cause of the incident.

Thousands of dead fish seen at Pasir Ris riverbank
Hetty Musfirah Channel NewsAsia 20 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE: Residents living near Sungei Api Api in Pasir Ris were hit by a stinker, after thousands of dead small fish were swept up the banks of the river.

The dead fish were first spotted at the mouth of the river and along the beach at Pasir Ris on Tuesday morning.

National water agency PUB was informed of the spectacle, and workers were seen scooping up the dead fish and disposing them.

PUB said the fish are likely to have been washed up into Sungei Api Api by the tide.

Some residents said they noticed the fishy smell around 3pm.

Some residents were bothered by the smell, while others described it as being nothing more than just being in a fish market.

Still, many were surprised, saying it was the first time they have seen such happening.

The river is not linked to the area's water supply, but is commonly used for recreational activities such as canoeing and fishing.

PUB assures the public the incident has no impact on drinking water quality.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) is also investigating the cause of the incident.

- CNA/ir

Thousands of dead fish in Pasir Ris
Straits Times 21 Mar 12;

PASIR Ris residents were startled to find thousands of small dead fish along Sungei Api Api, which flows through the estate and Pasir Ris Park, yesterday.

The fish appeared to have been washed in with the tide, said national water agency PUB, which was informed of the find at the mouth of Sungei Api Api and Pasir Ris beach in the morning.

Contractors began clearing the carcasses yesterday.

A PUB spokesman assured the public that the incident has no impact on the quality of drinking water, as the water in Sungei Api Api is not part of Singapore's drinking water supply.

The National Environment Agency is investigating the cause of the incident, a spokesman said.

Contaminated water not the cause?
Letter from Eric Lim Today Online 27 Mar 12;

I REFER to the report "When dead fish wash ashore at Pasir Ris ... " (March 21). I have been living in the Pasir Ris area for 14 years and have been fishing in the beach area for years.

A lot of people cast their nets there, and they can haul in hundreds of anchovies and tambans (a type of sardine) each time.

These groups would usually throw the dead anchovies and tambans back into the water, which could be the reason for the dead fishes seen last week.

One thing to note: Only anchovies and tambans were found dead. If the water was contaminated, more varieties of fishes could have been found, as Sungei Api Api is full of catfish.

Read more!

All projects studied under Jurong Island 2.0 initiative completed

Ronnie Lim Business Times 21 Mar 12;

ALL the 10 or so projects studied under the Jurong Island version 2.0 initiative, aimed at ramping up the petrochemical island's competitiveness and overcoming its resource limitations, have been completed, JTC director Heah Soon Poh told BT this week.

They include introducing alternative feedstocks like liquefied petroleum gas, synthetic gas (from coal), and from biorenewables for the petrochemical plants, to tapping unused 'cold' energy from the LNG terminal, and building a second road link to the mainland for better logistics and worker movement.

Following this, the government is now into the next phase of testing with industry and companies the business case, or efficacy of the projects, he said. This comes less than two years after the JI 2.0 initiative was first launched.

'Some of the projects are already in the process of being implemented,' Mr Heah said, when asked for an update of JI 2.0, but he declined to go into specifics at this stage.

'The studies have been positive,' he said.

The move to ensure the long-term competitiveness of Jurong Island - which is home to over 100 petrochemical companies with well over $35 billion in investments - was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when he opened Shell's new US$3 billion (S$3.78 billion) petrochemical complex in May 2010.

The effort involves government agencies including JTC, Economic Development Board, Land Transport Authority, Maritime Port Authority, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, the Public Utilities Board as well as the Jurong Island companies as well.

On alternative feedstocks, BT reported last month that industry players, like Shell and Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, are now seeking land on Jurong Island to build an LPG terminal, estimated to cost US$100-$120 million, with a project go-ahead possibly by Q3 this year.

Following completion of its feasibility study, the EDB last month also launched a request for proposals (RFP) from commercial developers to further explore the feasibility of building a coal gasification plant.

The project will not only supply utilities but also produce syngas, a combination of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, as a petrochemicals feedstock.

Under a separate JI 2.0 project, the EDB also studied use of 'green' materials including crops like palm oil and sugar cane, as well as bio-feedstocks like sugars, bioethanol to produce chemicals and industrial polymers.

All these would be alternatives to mainly naphtha, and more recently heavy 'bottoms' like hydrowax from the refineries, currently used to produce feedstock for the downstream chemical plants there.

While strictly not part of the JI 2.0 plan, Singapore is also building underground oil storage like the $890 million first phase Jurong Rock Cavern (JRC), and is set to embark on building its first floating oil storage off Pulau Sebarok to overcome land constraints on Jurong Island.

JTC's Mr Heah said a decision 'is expected soon' on the very large floating structure project. The corporation is also evaluating potential operators for the JRC under a two-stage RFP, and expects to award the operatorship later this year, he added.

Parsons Brinckerhoff, a leading underground storage builder in the US which is involved in Singapore's JRC project, is now working 'towards the handover of the first two of five Phase 1 caverns by mid-2013,' its project manager Chin Hwi Gan said.

The JRC project will not only strengthen Singapore's refining/petrochem- icals edge, but 'will also free up about 60 hectares of sought-after land that can be used for manufacturing purposes,' he said in a recent company newsletter.

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Local invention makes it cheaper, faster to detect bacteria in water

Esther Ng Today Online 20 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE - An hour, instead of seven, is all it takes to detect bacteria in treated water with a device developed by a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) researcher, and it could prove to be a boon for countries fighting water-borne diseases.

Professor Liu Ai Qun's Parasitometer works by directing water through a tiny channel - about the width of a human hair - within a small chip and shining a laser though the treated water.

Microscopic contaminants like E.coli can be detected from the way laser bounces off the matter and through it.

Said Prof Liu: "We are able to identify cells by knowing their cell shape, the diameter and size, as well as their refractive index - how well they reflect light and let light through."

This is done with a camera sensor that captures the light refraction data.

In the case of testing for Cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhoea in humans if present in drinking water, using the Parasitometer takes up only one-eighth the cost of the current industry-standard test.

It can also pick up a single such cell - four-hundredths the width of human hair - from a 10-litre sample in one hour, compared with seven days with the standard test, or up to two days for detecting E.coli.

The project, which ran for three years, received S$1.77 million in funding from the PUB's Environment and Water Industry Programme Office and was supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation.

The PUB plans to use this technology to test treated water at its labs - it currently uses another method - before deciding whether to extend the application to its plants, its spokesperson said.

Commercialisation of the technology is expected to begin in June.

Prof Liu and the NTU have set up a company called Water Optics Technology, and is looking for S$2 million in funding from businesses and venture capitalists.

There has been "some commitment" from investors, Prof Liu said.

The global water monitoring market is estimated to be US$7.4 billion.

Though the current prototype weighs 50kg and measures 60cm by 50cm by 50cm, Prof Liu estimates the commercialised device will only be half the size and weight, and cost around S$15,000.

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Malaysia: Giant clams to be re-introduced

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 21 Mar 12;

GAYA Island waters will have an abundance of giant clams once 500 juveniles are released into the ocean seabed.

The re-introduction of these baby clams to their natural oceanic habitat is part of the Marine Ecology Research Centre's (MERC) awareness month programme.

MERC director Alvin Wong said giant clams were vital as they produced oxygen and acted as biological filters, taking in ammonia and nitrate and expelling clean water.

"We are glad to announce that MERC is the only centre in Malaysia to spawn and make clam spats of all seven out of eight known species of living giant clams," he said at the centre based in Gayana Eco Resort near here.

"These seven species of giant clams can be found in the country's waters and we have successfully produced 2,000 clams since the propagation programme was initiated four years ago."

The 500 baby giant clams, each measuring three inches in length, will be placed 6m deep within the resort's vicinity for close monitoring.

"We hope that they will survive on their own and the team will continue to assess their progress.

"These giant clams can still be found within the protected Sabah Park area. They are endangered and you would probably spot one or two in a dive.

"That's why we want everyone to be with us because if we were to do it alone it would be zero per cent survival because whatever we put, someone else will pick up the next day," said Wong.

He said larger clams could grow up to 1.5m in length while smaller clams could reach up to seven inches if it was left to thrive on its own.

Return of the giant clams
Durie Rainer Fong The Star 21 Mar 12;

KOTA KINABALU: Giant clams are making their way back into waters off the city after decades of uncontrolled exploitation.

An award-winning marine research centre here will release 500 giant clams into the sea after three long years of breeding and nurturing the natural sea water-filtering creature.

The Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) at Gaya Island, a 15-minute boat ride from the city, will sporadically release the three-inch giant clams in selected ocean nurseries during its month-long marine awareness month starting tomorrow.

Besides the clams, the oceanic research centre, which is attached to the Gayana Eco Resort at the island, will integrate 1,000 corals – which it has planted and looked after – into the reefs off the island and city.

Project director Alvin Wong said his team of marine biologists and support staff was eager to release the clams back into the sea.

“Hopefully, this first batch will make it. We will monitor their progress as we continue to produce more giant clams,” said Wong, adding that they had 2,000 more giant clams in their nursery.

“We chose giant clams for our Save the Giants programme because they are endangered, slow to grow and important in producing oxygen into the marine ecosystem,” he said.

Wong said the first stage of the project involved work to spawn the larvae and taking care of them until these were ready to survive in ocean nurseries.

He said the public must play their part to protect the marine environment by not polluting the sea or buying clams.

MERC, awarded the Most Innovative Tourist Attraction Award at the Malaysia Tourism Awards 2008/2009, is the only centre in Malaysia to have spawned giant clam spats.

As part of the marine awareness programme, he said MERC would also be hosting schoolchildren and non-governmental organisations to inculcate in them the awareness for marine conservation.

There will also be a beach concert by Irish crooner Ronan Keating at sister resort Bunga Raya Island Resort on the other side of the island tomorrow for the programme.

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Indonesia: 100 people attacked by rove beetles

Around 103 tomcat victims treated in Surabaya
Antara 20 Mar 12;

Surabaya, East Java (ANTARA News) - Around 103 people have been treated at health care centers in Surabaya, the capital of East Java province, after being bitten by the `tomcat` insects.

"All those affected have been declared outpatients," the head of the Surabaya health service, Esty Martiana Rachmie, said to media persons here on Tuesday.

The patients, who are suffering from skin burns and blisters, have been treated at 13 sub-district health care centers.

She said that with the cooperation of the agriculture service, anticipatory measures have been taken to stop the spread of the poisonous insects to other areas.

"We have also conducted an information campaign for the public with regard to the insects," she added.

Esty noted that most people do not know what to do when they are bitten by tomcats. "They usually hit the insect causing it to excrete a poisonous fluid that causes burns and blisters on the skin," she said.

She mentioned that she has ordered the staff of health care centers to ask patients to report to the agriculture service if they find the insects in their homes.

Esty said the insect bites could be treated with anti-infection and allergy medicines.

The secretary of the city`s agriculture service, Hari Tjahyono, said his service has conducted eradication efforts by spraying the animals with a non-chemical insecticide.

"We have even sent 10 workers at night to deal with the problem at affected places," he said.

He called on the people not to panic and to immediately report to the local agriculture service when they find the insects.

"When they are bitten by the insects they must immediately cleanse the affected area with soap, but when the affected area is burned and blistered then they must go to the health care centers for treatment," he added.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Indonesia’s Surabaya Reports Beetle Attacks in 12 Subdistricts
Jakarta Globe 20 Mar 12;

Surabaya has reported the spread of rove beetles in 12 out of its 31 subdistricts, as residents are growing more restless with the reported “poisonous” attacks of the insects better known here as tomcats.

An official at Surabaya’s Agriculture Agency, Ketut Suharto, said on Tuesday this was not the first time rove beetles attacked the East Java capital. Last year, two subdistricts reported similar problems.

“But in 2012, 12 subdistricts out of 31 subdistricts in Surabaya have reported tomcat attacks. They’ve happened in housing, settlement areas,” Ketut said in a live interview with TV One.

He called on residents to minimize the use of lights in the evening, saying they attracted rove beetles. When the beetles come into contact with humans, they often spurt body fluids that can cause severe skin irritation.

Residents of Surabaya’s Pakuwon City and students of SD Al Muttaqien, a Surabaya elementary school, have been among those reporting attacks.

Pictures of awful skin rashes and irritations, reportedly caused by the attacks, have spread among Indonesian social media users.

Earlier on Monday, Surabaya Agriculture Agency secretary Hari Tjahjono said the beetles were spreading following the loss of their natural habitats.

“Many of their habitats have now been turned into housing complexes, pushing tomcats to leave their nests and spread everywhere,” Hari said.

He added his agency was spraying insecticides around the city outskirts in a move to curb the spread of rove beetles.


Development In Surabaya Sets Off Itchy Rash of Insects
Dessy Sagita, Amir Tejo & Vento Saudale Jakarta Globe 21 Mar 12;

Health officials are calling for calm following an outbreak of skin rashes and irritations across Surabaya linked to bugs driven out of their natural habitats by property developers.

The local agriculture agency said on Tuesday that 12 of the city’s 31 districts had reported cases of skin irritations resulting from fluid secretions from the rove beetle, known locally as the tomcat bug.

Ketut Suharto, an agriculture agency official, told local TV stations that the bugs were being found in residential areas, drawn into people’s homes by bright lights at night.

Residents of the Pakuwon City residential estate and students at SD Al Muttaqien, an Islamic elementary school, were among those reporting severe rashes after coming into contact with the beetles. The graphic images of the rashes have also made the rounds on social media.

Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the Health Ministry’s director general for disease control and environmental health, said the beetles did not bite, but rather secreted a poisonous fluid.

“If you find one of these insects, don’t crush it because then the poison could come into contact with your skin,” he said.

“Just put them inside a plastic bag carefully and throw it in a safe place.”

The beetle looks similar to an ant, but it has a more elongated body with orange and black striations. When threatened, it raises its abdomen in the manner of a scorpion.

The fluid it excretes contains paederin, which can cause dermatitis or blisters 24 to 48 hours after contact with the skin.

“The blisters can be infectious through towels, clothes or other things that come in contact with the paederin,” Tjandra said.

He added at least 48 residents had so far sought treatment at local clinics for skin irritation caused by the rove beetle.

Those who do come into contact with the bugs are advised to thoroughly rinse the affected skin under flowing water, scrub it with soap and wipe it with an antiseptic solution. A cold compress can also be applied to prevent blisters from spreading.

Tjandra said health officials in Surabaya were spraying pesticide in the bug-infested areas and educating residents about what to do if they encountered the beetles.

However, Teguh Riyanto, the head of the agriculture agency’s pest eradication unit, said it was virtually impossible to get rid of all the rove beetles.

“Their range is too large, so it’s ineffective to try to spray pesticide everywhere,” he said.

He also warned that the indiscriminate use of pesticide could prompt undue panic about the extent of the infestation.

“The only way to stem the outbreak of rashes is to avoid wet or moist areas, which is where these insects typically nest,” he said.

Teguh added that it was important for housing estate managers to cover any standing water to keep the bugs from breeding.

“The areas the bugs are now attacking used to be swamps and have been developed for housing estates,” he said.

Aunu Rauf, an entomologist at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), blamed the infestation on the destruction of Surabaya’s mangrove swamps, a key habitat for the rove beetle.

“With the destruction of their habitat, they’re forced to seek out other areas with similar characteristics,” he said.

“That means they’ll be looking for places that are moist and where there are smaller insects that they can prey on.”

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Marine Scientists Hunt for World's Strongest Corals

LiveScience 20 Mar 12;

Corals living in the tropical paradise off the Ofu Island in the South Pacific Ocean may be some of the strongest corals, living in lagoons with water temperatures high enough to kill most of their brethren.

They are not just surviving, but these coral reefs are thriving, according to a marine biologist who is trying to find out just how they do it, during an expedition running from March 18 through April 7.

"In fact, they're growing faster than the same species elsewhere," said Stephen Palumbi of Stanford University.

Studying these seemingly heat-resistant corals could help scientists find ways to protect these and other corals, which scientists worry are at risk as climate change warms the oceans.

Coral reefs are a crucial part of the environment; they support more species per unit area than any other marine habitat. They are home to many fish we eat; they attract divers; buffer coasts from the effects of storms; and have been the source of medicinal substances, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Our research tries to find the corals that are better at resisting the negative effects of high temperature, and find out at the molecular genetic level how they accomplish this," Palumbi said in a statement put out by the university.

To test the corals' strength, the researchers will use a computer-controlled aquarium that lets them increase water temperature to a precise degree. They will place the corals from different locations into this so-called coral stress tank, ramp up the temperature over the course of a day and monitor which of the corals survive and which bleach and die. Bleaching refers to the whitening of corals that occurs when they eject their symbiotic, and photosynthesizing, algae that live within their tissues. It generally is a sign of stress.

The first part of the team's expedition takes place in Ofu Island in American Samoa; from there, they will travel to Rarotonga and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

"We do not know if the strong corals we find tomorrow will be dead the next day," Palumbi said. "But if we do not find them, we will never know where to protect them."

Stay updated on the team's whereabouts and findings on their blog:

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Caribbean Farmers and Fishermen Feel the Pain of Climate Change

Desmond Brown Reuters AlertNet 19 Mar 12;

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada, March 19 (IPS) - James Nicholas has always made a living off the sea. A fisherman in the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, he recalls the profitable business of selling his daily catch to residents and restaurants on the island and even exporting fish to luxury hotels in neighbouring ones.But things have changed in recent times. Local experts are blaming conditions associated with climate change, insisting that they have led to a significant depletion of the local fishing stock.

At its peak in 2010, the fishing industry here employed an estimated 4,000 people and pumped 5.2 million dollars into the economy from exports alone.

"Growing up, we had an abundance of fish around the coastal areas," Nicholas, who now serves as chairman of the Southern Fishermen Association, one of the groups representing fisher folk here, told IPS. Now, "some of the species have disappeared entirely."

"Recently I was counting maybe about eight species that are totally gone. I can't say it is climate change because I am not a scientist; I just have to go along with what the scientists are saying."

One thing is certain, though. Nicholas said his members have been catching less and less fish, a decrease that is taking a financial toll on them.

Karl Hood, a former environment minister who is now minister of foreign affairs, told IPS he believes the dwindling numbers of fish in the country's waters are a direct result of climate change, adding that fishing is only one of several industries affected by this global phenomenon.

He pointed to a drastic reduction in ‘jacks', a small fish widely used by the fishermen as bait.

"Since last year, fisher folk have not been catching the jacks," Hood said in an interview at his office at the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of the capital.

"Usually around November there (are) lots of jacks but we've had none, so much so that the fishermen can't get bait to go fishing. There is a drought in fishing; if you go to the fish market there is no fish."

Due to the scarcity of jacks, Nicholas said fishermen have been forced to import sardines from the United States to use as bait, noting that the alternative would be to pack away their fishing gear and stay home.

Hurting coral reefs

Reefs, home to some 25 percent of all marine species, including fish, are suffering a whole array of assaults, said Clare Morrall, director of the marine biology programme at St. George's University.

She pointed out that sea surface temperatures over the last few years have been much higher than normal. The result is coral bleaching, a stress condition in reef corals that involves a breakdown of the symbiotic relationship between corals and unicellular algae.

"It's not just that you have climate change effects, that the corals may have some ability to recover from. We've also got increased nutrient loads from run-offs and that's also potentially climate change-related in terms of extended periods of drought," she told IPS.

Erosion increases when it rains after a prolonged drought, Morrall explained. Coupled with fertilizer and sewerage, it spells disaster for the coral reefs by increasing nutrients that support macro algae on the reef.

"When you've taken away the fish that would normally crop and harvest and keep that algae in check, you've got a situation which has happened throughout the Caribbean, when you get a change from coral dominated systems to algal dominated systems," she said.

"How climate change is playing into that is just another thing that the corals have to deal with."

Rising sea levels

A storm surge two years ago devastated the island's signature tourist attraction, the two-mile-long Grand Anse Beach in the south of the country, Hood recalled as he pointing out other industries feeling the impacts of climate change.

The water at Grand Anse Beach has also become deeper - another indication of erosion, he said.

A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report stated that a 50 centimetre rise in sea level could lead to serious inundation in more than 60 percent of beaches in some areas of Grenada.

"The report says 50, but even a few feet rise would seriously impact us. So it (climate change) is a real threat to us," Hood emphasised.

The government official said farmers have also been hurt, as changing weather patterns brought about a serious drought two years ago, the worst that the island had seen in recent history.

"We've seen coconut trees dry up, citrus trees dry up. That would never happen before and now we're seeing so much rain that the traditional crops that you would plant and get at a certain time - you are not getting them," he told IPS.

Hood has also been watching developments in Dominica, a neighbouring island where heavy rains in September 2011 led to massive landslides, damaged homes and washed away vehicles and bridges. Some communities were left without pipe-borne water and electricity.

A problem of money and politics

Climate change, Hood lamented, is a money problem and an issue of getting the funds required for adaptation.

With Caribbean economies only slowly turning the corner after a long and deep recession, Hood said they simply do not have the funds necessary to address the problems brought about by climate change.

But he said Grenada and its neighbours recognise that there is strength in numbers. They have formed an Alliance of Small Island States, AOSIS, (43 states in the Caribbean and Pacific) to bring the problems of small island states to the fore and seek financial assistance.

"We would speak with one voice… so that the bigger countries, the bigger emitters, those who pollute the most would hear what we're talking about and understand where we're coming from. We are very committed to fight and to continue to fight until we begin to see some changes," Hood said.

"All of us together must see this as something that is very, very serious because there are still some people who take this very lightly. We face a very daunting task."

Find out more about the forces behind climate change - but also about the growing citizen awareness and new climate policies towards sustainable development

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Sea levels could rise 22 metres

Victoria University of Wellington Science Alert 21 Mar 12;

Even if we manage to limit global warming to 2°C, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends, future generations could face sea levels 12 to 22 metres higher than present, according to new research.

The research was published today in the journal Geology, by Professor Ken Miller of Rutgers University (New Jersey) and an international team including New Zealander Professor Tim Naish from Victoria University of Wellington.

The researchers studied sediment cores in Virginia in the United States, Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific and the Whanganui region of New Zealand.

They investigated the late Pliocene epoch — 2.7 million to 3.2 million years ago — which is the last time the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was at its current level, and atmospheric temperatures were two degrees higher than they are now.

"We know that global sea levels at this time were higher than present, but estimates have varied from five to over 40 metres higher," says Professor Naish.

He says the team analysed the position of the sea level 3 million years ago and concluded that it was extremely likely — with 95 percent confidence — that sea level peaked 10 to 30 metres above present, with a best estimate of 22 metres.

"Whanganui holds one of the world’s best geological archives of global sea-level during the warm climate of the Pliocene and is a key data set in this new study," says Professor Naish, who has been conducting research there for the last 20 years.

Professor Naish also led an international team to Antarctica as part of the ANDRILL Project to drill beneath the floor of the Ross Sea in 2006 and discovered that the Antarctic ice sheets retreated significantly during the Pliocene epoch.

"What we’re seeing is that the evidence of Antarctic ice sheet collapse is consistent with evidence for sea-level rise in this new study," says Professor Naish.

Professor Ken Miller, who led the study, says that sea-level rise would take time.

"You don’t need to sell your beach real estate yet, because melting of these large ice sheets will take from centuries to a few thousand years," he says.

"The current trajectory for the 21st century global rise of sea level is 2 to 3 feet (0.8 to 1 metre) due to warming of the oceans, partial melting of mountain glaciers, and partial melting of Greenland and Antarctica."

Still, says Professor Naish, the study calls into question the sensitivity of the earth’s large ice sheets to temperature change and shows that the natural state of the earth under carbon dioxide already attained in the atmosphere is one with sea levels around 20 metres above present.

"If the present levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are not abated, and humans were to disappear from the planet and return in 2,000 years, they would find a world where the oceans have risen 20 metres," says Professor Naish.

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Update for world temperature data

Mark Kinver BBC News 20 Mar 12;

Arctic sea-ice (Image: BBC) The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on the planet, data shows

Researchers have updated HadCRUT - one of the main global temperate records, which dates back to 1850.

One of the main changes is the inclusion of more data from the Arctic region, which has experienced one of the greatest levels of warming.

The amendments do not change the long-term trend, but the data now lists 2010, rather than 1998, as the warmest year on record.

The update is reported in the published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

HadCRUT is compiled by the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit (Cru) at the University of East Anglia, and is one of three global records used extensively by climatologists.

The other two are produced by US-based researchers at Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

Cru's director, Phil Jones, explained why it was necessary to revise the UK record.

"HadCRUT is underpinned by observations and we've previously been clear it may not be fully capturing changes in the Arctic because we have had so little data from the area," he said.

"For the latest version, we have included observations from more than 400 (observation) stations across the Arctic, Russia and Canada."

Prof Jones added: "This has led to better representation of what's going on in the large geographical region."

Despite the revisions, the overall warming signal has not changed. The scientists say it has remained at about 0.75C (1.4F) since 1900.

Kicking the bucket

Another change adopted in the HadCRUT dataset is the way sea surface temperature (SST) is recorded, allowing scientists to revisit and recalibrate past calculations.

With advances in technology in recent years, ships now have electronic sensors that can accurately record SST.

This development has highlighted a systematic anomaly in traditional methods of collating the data in the past.

This included differences in the buckets used to collect sea water for measurement, and the locations where those measurements were recorded.

Improvements in the way SST is collected has now allowed scientists to recalculate data, making amendments to the data collected in previous years.

"An example of this is the rapid change in the kinds of measurements we see in the digital archives around the Second World War," explained Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office.

"Research has shown readings from buckets were generally cooler so when the database changes from one source to another, you see artificial jumps in the temperature.

"We have quantified these effects and corrected them, providing a clearer view of the evolution of global temperatures."

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