Best of our wild blogs: 19 Sep 12

Of memories and changes
from Nature rambles

Random Gallery - Leopard Lacewing
from Butterflies of Singapore

daurian starlings @ seletar link mangroves - 16Sep2012
from sgbeachbum

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Vocalisation
from Bird Ecology Study Group

A burden of plastics relieved from Pandan mangrove – more than 900kg categorised, counted and removed! from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Learning to live with elephants in Malaysia
from news by Jeremy Hance

Wildlife trade bans may be worsening trafficking of some species, argues paper from news by Rhett Butler

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Elderly woman falls after boar pulls her bag of food

Straits Times 19 Sep 12;

AN ELDERLY woman fell and broke her hip after a wild boar in Pulau Ubin went for a bag of food she was carrying.

Madam Lin Hui Juan, 64, was operated on yesterday morning, reported Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao.

The Bukit Panjang resident had gone for a half-day tour to Pulau Ubin on Sunday when the attack happened at 11am.

The group of more than 40 members was near Chek Jawa when a female boar, with two other small boars, appeared near some bicycle stands.

The group began taking pictures of the boars and feeding them. Madam Lin was nearby but was busy haggling over the transport fare with a van driver.

The female boar suddenly charged and tugged at a bag filled with food that Madam Lin was carrying on her shoulder.

Caught unawares, she lost her footing and fell. A group member rushed over and grabbed the bag from the boar, which later ran off.

Madam Lin was shouting in pain and could not stand up, said a fellow group member. She was carried by the group members to the van and taken to the National University Hospital.

Zoologist Diong Cheong Hoong said the group should have kept a distance from the boars and refrained from feeding them.

"If there is a group of people, the boars are more easily provoked and have a tendency to charge, especially if they have sniffed out food," he said.

"And if the piglets are still suckling, the sow will be particularly sensitive and will charge to defend her piglets."

Last December, a boar killed a pet dog in the Chestnut area. Three months ago, one attacked a security guard and a boy.

The National Parks Board has since decided to cull the animals to control their numbers.


She breaks hip in boar attack on Pulau Ubin
Madam Lin Hui Juan who fractured her hip after a wild boar knocked her down during her excursion to Pulau Ubin.
Hedy Khoo The New Paper AsiaOne 21 Sep 12;

Attracted by a bag of food she was carrying, a wild boar charged at the 64-year-old woman, causing her to fall and break her hip.

The injury required her to undergo an operation at National University Hospital (NUH) tuesday morning, reported Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.

Madam Lin Hui Juan, a Bukit Panjang resident, was on a half-day excursion organised by a residents' committee to Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin on Sunday morning when the incident happened at about 11am.

She was among the group of 40 who each received a red recyclable bag containing food and water.

After visiting Chek Jawa, the group started negotiating with a bus driver over the fare to take them back to the jetty.

Then a female wild boar with two piglets appeared and they did not seem afraid of humans. The group took photos of the animals and even fed them.

At that time, Madam Lin was carrying the red recyclable bag on her left arm. Suddenly, the sow charged at Madam Lin from behind, causing her to fall on her left side.

A group member said Madam Lin was unaware of the boar near her as she was bargaining with the bus driver over the fare.

After she fell, someone helped her retrieve the bag, while Madam Lin remained on the ground, groaning in pain. She was also unable to stand up.

She was then carried into a taxi, onto the boat at the jetty and taken to NUH.

It is believed Madam Lin's husband was with her during the excursion.

Advice to visitors

A Pulau Ubin resident said visitors to the island should avoid wearing red clothes and carrying red plastic bags as the colour attracts the attention of monkeys and wild boars.

He added that there have been instances of visitors who had hung red plastic bags of food on their bicycles being attacked by wild boars.

Wild-boar sightings are getting more common in Singapore.

On Sept 5, Wanbao reported an incident of a wild boar which was killed when it was hit by a car on Upper Thomson Road.

The driver said the animal had dashed out suddenly from the bushes at the side of the road.

In August, a pet dog out on a walk was believed to have been gored by a wild boar at Adam Drive, off Adam Road. The chocolate labrador survived.

And in June, two wild boars which wandered into Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park knocked down a five-year-old boy and a patrolling Cisco protection officer, who hurt his hand in the fall.

Following the attacks in the Park, the National Parks Board decided to control the wild boar population in the Lower Peirce area by culling.

Last month, it was decided that the animals would be rounded up before being sedated with dart guns and euthanised with drug injections.

Related links
Chek Jawa wild boar: Thousands of peaceful interactions on wild shores of singapore.

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Malaysia: Land acquisition award hearings for Pengerang petrochemical projects

Chuah Bee Kim New Straits Times 17 Sep 12;

CHEQUES READY:Compensations vary according to location, size and shape of the property, among other factors

THE 12-day land acquisition award hearings concerning the development of oil-and-gas projects in Pengerang were concluded recently.

Johor State Economic Planning Unit director, Elias Hasran, told a Press conference at Kota Iskandar, here, that 16 cheques were ready to be handed out to the main title holders.

He added that a total of 74 copies of the consent forms out of 191 distributed were returned by the title owners of 223 plots of land affected by the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) and Pengerang Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal located within the proposed Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC).

Elias said that those with doubts would be entitled to file their reasons according to the Land Acquisition Act 1960 whereby they would be able to seek their own counsel or land valuers, and all expenses would be borne by the government.

"Everything will be done in accordance with the Act," he said.

Also present at the Press conference were Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Bhd chief executive Mohd Yazid Ja'afar and Johor Land and Mines Department deputy director, Azmi Rohani.

Elias said the compensations varied according to the location, size and shape of the land, among other factors.

On another matter, Elias said that the move to re-locate all the Muslim graves to a 32.32-hectare site had been settled.

However, some issues remained concerning the relocation of the Chinese graves to a 23.43-ha site in Punggai, near Pengerang.

He was however confident that the issues would be resolved as this was not the first time the government has re-located Chinese graves in the name of development.

He cited the construction of the Eastern Dispersal Link and the Nusajaya highway where Chinese graves had been re-located without any problems.

"We will be having another round of talks with the local Chinese community leaders in Pengerang.

"On our part, the government will appoint a company that is well-versed in Chinese rites according to Taoist faith," he said, adding that the re-location of the Chinese graves will probably be before next March.

Elias said notwithstanding some gatherings being organised by non-governmental organisations, he believed any misunderstanding which arose out of miscommunication would be resolved amicably.

It was reported that the state government would be acquiring some 8,094ha of land in Pengerang for the development of the PIPC.

This massive development is the state government's initiative to transform Pengerang into a oil-and-gas hub.

It will involve the relocation of 3,122 people from 927 families currently residing in the affected areas.

Phase One of the relocation exercise will begin in March next year involving three villages. These are Kampung Sungai Kapal, Kampung Teluk Empang and Kampung Langkah Baik.

By October next year, another four villages will follow suit. These are Kampung Sebong, Kampung Batu Mas, Kampung Jawa and Kampung Sungai Buntu.

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As Cloud-Seeding Efforts Fail, Haze From Burning Returns to Sumatra

Jakarta Globe 18 Sep 12;

Jambi. Haze from ground brush and forest fires resumed blanketing parts of central Sumatra on Monday after cloud-seeding efforts failed to induce any rain for three straight days, officials and residents said.

Visibility early in the morning at Jambi’s Sultan Thaha Airport was just 500 meters, preventing planes from landing until the smog cleared up a bit by 8:30 a.m.

Zubaidi, head of the provincial disaster mitigation office, blamed the problem on the failure to produce any rain through cloud-seeding efforts over the past three days, after earlier efforts had proved successful.

“We haven’t had any rain even though we seeded the clouds above Jambi. The problem is that the clouds are much too thin,” he said.

He added the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) would continue seeding the clouds.

“Most likely we’ll be able to induce some rainfall over Jambi again on Monday evening,” he said.

“We’ll continue making artificial rain until the normal rains set in.”

Zubaidi also denied that most of the haze in Jambi and the neighboring provinces of West Sumatra and Bengkulu came from fires within Jambi, pointing out that only one hot spot was detected in the province as of Sunday.

“There was only one hot spot, in West Tanjung Jabung district. We believe the smoke blanketing the city of Jambi comes from South Sumatra,” he said.

Officials in Bengkulu and West Sumatra have confirmed an increased level of haze there, but say it has not yet reached dangerous levels.

In Bengkulu, the haze is reportedly thicker in the early mornings and evenings, while during the daytime winds keep the skies clear.

There have been no reports of limited visibility or respiratory complaints out of Bengkulu as a result of the haze.

Officials there insist that the haze is wafting in from Jambi and South Sumatra, given that there have been no reports of ground brush or forest fires in Bengkulu.

Risman Sipayung, the head of the Bengkulu Forestry Office, said forest rangers had been deployed to prevent fires from being lit, especially for land clearing.

“We have called on the people, through the district and Bengkulu city authorities, against conducting land clearing using fire during this dry season, because besides causing forest fires it also creates haze,” he said.

In Padang, West Sumatra, a thin veil of haze limited visibility to less than 10 kilometers, with officials there also blaming the conditions on forest fires in Jambi and South Sumatra.

Neli Elfira, from the local office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), said the latest satellite imagery of the region showed 75 hot spots, areas of high temperature indicating forest or ground brush fires, in South Sumatra.

She said the haze in Padang was not yet at dangerous levels and that aviation safety was still unaffected because visibility was well above the minimum level required.

She added that the higher people went, the denser the haze would be, and cautioned motorists going through mountainous areas to drive cautiously.


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From Fishing to Crab Farming in Indonesia

Lisa Siregar Jakarta Globe 18 Sep 12;

Shifts in the weather have changed the lives of today’s fishermen in Bali.

They no longer can predict the best days to sail and catch fish. Maybe it’s because of climate change — Balinese fishermen leave it to scientists to figure out the reasons — but nonetheless, they need an immediate alternative to be able to maintain a steady income.

And some might have found one.

Fishermen have turned to farming mangrove crabs in the mangrove forests in their neighborhoods.

For the fishermen at Wana Sari, in the south of Denpasar, it was not easy to change from fishing to crab farming. Not only did the lack of know-how present a problem, but the farm also requires Rp 25 million to Rp 35 million ($2,600 to $3,700) to start. They need at least 10 fishing nets for a farm, each costing about Rp 2.5 million. They also need to build a proper cage for each crab to grow. It comes as no surprise that of more than 100 fishermen in the area, only 45 were willing to change their line of work.

It was only in March of last year that they began to establish these crab farms. The fishermen organized themselves into groups and all chipped in to build a farm. There are now five groups, and each owns a hectare of crab farm in the mangrove forest in Wana Sari.

“We sell these crabs alive to Jakarta and Singapore, and buyers usually buy a minimum of 200 kilograms,” said Made Sumasa, the head of the fishermen’s association at Wana Sari.

It takes between 20 and 30 days for a crab to grow. The fishermen usually buy a ton of seeds for each group, which results in about 500 kilograms of crabs.

The first time they sold crabs, which was last year, they made a profit of 30 percent. So Made and his friends decided to maintain their crab farm.

It soon become clear that crab farming is more promising because there is no risk of going home empty handed, unlike fishing. Made said they need to plant more mangroves to make sure that the crabs have the perfect habitat.

Should anyone want to build a new crab farm, there is no need to worry about the lack of space, said Yudha Wayan, another fisherman at Wana Sari. There are more than 1,300 hectares of land in the forest in Ngurah Rai.

“We live very close to the road, so there’s no distribution problem. But we were all purely fishermen, so we lack the proper knowledge on how to grow these crabs,” he said.

The fishermen-cum-crab farmers recently received donations and workshops from Pertamina. The energy company donated Rp 5 million to each group and put them in contact with a beneficiary of its corporate social responsibility program in Probolinggo, East Java. They will share their knowledge of crab harvesting, and making sweet jelly (dodol) and syrup with mangrove fruit as the main ingredient.

Pertamina also recently agreed to contribute to the government’s Grow a Billion Trees program. Afandi, a manager at Pertamina, said that the company plans to plant 100 million trees by 2015.

Speaking in front of 100 high school students before a mangrove-planting event in Serangan, Bali, on Thursday, Afandi said that mangrove trees are useful in a variety of ways.

“We know that Pertamina’s products contribute gas emissions, so we decided to [plant] more trees,” he said.

He added that although mangroves do not produce oxygen, the plant is useful for fishermen on the island because they can grow crabs in the forest and make food from its fruits.

“It’s very important to pick up only the fruit and not the wood,” Afandi added.

The company has been planting mangroves since 2008. The numbers grew from 1,000 to 10,000 trees in four years, and it is hopeful of reaching its eventual goal. To teach fishermen at Wanasari, Pertamina works with Bali’s University of Udayana.

Budi Waluya, a representative from the conservation association, said that mangroves are very easy to plant and grow. The trick is to plant only mangroves that have grown at least one meter high.

“[The tree] lives on muddy ground,” said Budi, adding that the areas in Serangan and Wana Sari are good for mangroves.

Made said that mangroves helped his people survive a food crisis during the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963, and through the political crisis in 1965.

“It is proven that we can survive by consuming mangrove, so we should [grow] more,” he said.

Fishermen at Wana Sari agree. To sustain their occupation, these fishermen have also began to consider eco-tourism. They have built a 150-meter trekking route into the forest where tourists can see a small warung and enjoy grilled crabs.

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Australia eagrass needs protection: Environment Minister

Tony Moore Brisbane Times 19 Sep 12;

Australia's Environment Minister Tony Burke has called for a "higher level of protection" for threatened seagrass beds along the Australian coastline.

Australia now has a mass of seagrass beds about one and a half times the size of Tasmania surrounding the country.

In 2004, a major research body including James Cook University and the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority estimated there was 6000 square kilometres* of seagrass in shallow water.

In the deeper waters outside the Great Barrier Reef, the university estimated there was 40,000 square kilometres of seagrass.

However, almost one-third of the world's seagrass has been lost in the past decade, Mr Burke said yesterday.

Mr Burke has told the "Coast to Coast" conference in Brisbane today it was time to lift the environmental protection of seagrass beds.

"I would like to start to move towards putting some areas of seagrass into a higher level of protection," he said.

Mr Burke said seagrass absorbs carbon at three times the rate of an average forest.

"It's an extraordinary asset, environmentally, in every way, in issues other than habitat, as well," he said.

However, Mr Burke said it was up to state governments to change their environmental policies too offer the protection.

"I am urging the state governments to work with industry because we can get the best quality offsets, if they are willing to a higher level of protection over some of the seagrass meadows," he said.

Mr Burke said companies that dredged close to seagrass beds were required to fund research projects and land management.

"But we are ending up with environmental outcomes which could be far more effective, if we had some seagrass meadows going into a higher level of protection," he said.

Mr Burke did not clearly explain the criteria of how seagrass beds should be protected from projects, instead insisting untouched seagrass beds could be protected under offsets.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters said an offset plan did not go far enough and called on Mr Burke to protect all invaluable seagrass beds.

"These offsets are like being allowed to trash the Eiffel Tower because you've donated to the upkeep of the Taj Mahal," she said in a statement.

Senator Waters said it was "ridiculous" to think dugongs and other marine animals could travel hundreds of thousands of kilometres to other seagrass beds that supported marine animal populations.

Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell said he would be happy to talk to the federal government about an offset scheme, but he was concerned about duplication.

"There are a number of challenges presented by what the minister is proposing, but I'm happy to have the conversation," he said.

World Wildlife Fund spokesman Sean Hoobin said floods and cyclones in Queensland in recent years had wiped out massive areas of the marine habitats.

"It is well and good to set aside certain areas and say that they'll be better protected, but how exactly you do that is the challenge," he told said.

The Capricorn Conservation Council wanted to know the locations of seagrass beds to be protected and how quickly protective measures could be taken.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said mining companies understood marine ecosystems were damaged by poor water quality, coastal development and natural disasters such as floods.

Mr Roche said mining companies understood the need to protect seagrass beds.

"As long as it's a comprehensive plan that's dealing with all of those issues, then our sector will play its part," he told AAP.

However Mr Roche said mining companies would have concerns if the scheme added to their costs or caused delays in approving developments.

- additional reporting by AAP

Seagrass recovers after Brisbane floods
AAP The Australian 19 Sep 12;

SEAGRASS beds that support dugong and fish populations in Moreton Bay recovered within a year of the devastating 2011 Brisbane floods, researchers have found.

CSIRO marine ecologist Dr Russ Babcock says seagrasses had to cope with more than one million tonnes of sediment and pollutants carried by flood water runoff.

But he said there had been a remarkable recovery.

"Seagrass cover in Moreton Bay declined by half shortly after the floods," Dr Babcock said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Seagrasses are affected by the seasons and we expected to see some reduction during winter, but it was great to see them regenerate to pre-flood levels less than 12 months later."

The CSIRO was able to document the effects of the flood on coastal waters as far north as Fraser Island.

Researchers used technologies including remote sensing and robotic underwater gliders that took continuous readings of the flood plume on voyages of over 100km.
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Dr Babcock said it was important to understand how ecosystems such as Moreton Bay responded to extreme events, which can set the scene for ecological trends for many years to come.

"For example, although seagrasses have recovered from the 2011 flood, there are areas of the bay where seagrasses have still not recovered from floods in the 1990s," he said.

"Understanding the reasons for these different responses is important if we are to manage and conserve or restore the ecological values of Moreton Bay."

Dr Babcock will present the research at a coastal management conference in Brisbane this week.

Group concerned about plan to protect seagrass beds
ABC Yahoo News 18 Sep 12;

A North Queensland environmental group says it is concerned measures to protect seagrass beds from coal port developments will not improve the conservation of sensitive areas.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has called for a discussion with the states on ways to better protect seagrass beds by offering resource companies the chance to purchase offsets.

He told a Brisbane conference that developers already use offsets on land to clear an area but improve habitat in another.

Mr Burke says the plan could be administered by the State Government.

The conditions could potentially cover a proposed new coal terminal at Balaclava Island off Rockhampton, or the expansion of the Abbot Point and Hay Point in the state's north.

He says the same principle applies under the sea but has rarely been taken up because of issues with tenure.

"It's pretty hard to buy a quarter-acre block of ocean," he said.

"They don't tend to be sold in those terms."

Mr Burke says where underwater offsets have been used they have not delivered high quality environmental outcomes.

He says mining companies are already paying for research programs as part of an ocean management plan.

"When you have a dredging project, there are already environment costs that hit the bottom-line of a company," he said.

"The most effective thing they could pay for would be to put other areas into higher areas of protection and improve the quality of other seagrass meadows."

No evidence

However, Mackay Conservation Group spokeswoman Patricia Julien says there is no evidence to show the offsets would work.

"Seagrasses already grow where they can grow, where there's suitable areas," she said.

"How can you demonstrate scientifically that there'll be areas where the seagrasses can establish successfully?

"It would be a lovely 'get of out jail' project if it worked, but it's got to be shown to work."

Sean Hoobin, from environmental group WWF, says more detail is needed from the Federal Government.

"It's well and good to set aside certain areas and say they'll be better protected, but how you do that - that is the challenge," he said.

Further consideration

Meanwhile, Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell says seagrass offsets are already available to mining companies and have been used as part of the Curtis Island development in central Queensland.

Mr Powell says while the idea poses some challenges it is worth further consideration.

"It is a case of ensuring that we have the environmental standards," he said.

"Companies know that they need to meet certain environmental standards.
"Again I reiterate what I've heard today is that the Minister [Burke] wants to have a conversation - I'm happy to be part of that conversation."

Miners back coastal protection plan
Miranda Forster AAP The Telegraph 18 Sep 12;

QUEENSLAND miners have tentatively backed a plan to compensate for the damage their dredging works cause to seagrass beds.

However, the Australian Greens say the federal government's plan won't halt the decline of the nation's coastal environment.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke told a coastal environment conference in Brisbane it was time for the states to "start a conversation" about mining companies offsetting dredging damage to seagrass beds.

Miners whose developments harmed seagrass beds would pay to protect healthy beds in other locations, or restore damaged ones.

He told about 200 delegates and other dignitaries at the Coast to Coast conference - including Queensland's environment minister - that action was needed now to halt the decline in the important marine habitats, which come under state jurisdiction.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) says the industry would be happy to lend support, in proportion to its role in damaging the seagrass.

Marine ecosystems were also being damaged by poor water quality, coastal development and natural disasters such as floods, QRC director Michael Roche said.

"As long as it's a comprehensive plan that's dealing with all of those issues, then our sector will play its part," he told AAP.

Mr Roche said mining companies would have concerns if the scheme added to their costs or caused delays in approving developments.

The Australian Greens said an offset plan didn't go far enough and called on Mr Burke to protect all invaluable seagrass beds.

"These offsets are like being allowed to trash the Eiffel Tower because you've donated to the upkeep of the Taj Mahal," Greens Senator Larissa Waters said in a statement on Tuesday.

She said it was "ridiculous" to think dugongs and other marine animals could travel hundreds of thousands of kilometres to other seagrass beds that supported marine animal populations.

Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell said he would be happy to talk to the federal government about an offset scheme, but he was concerned about duplication.

"There are a number of challenges presented by what the minister is proposing, but I'm happy to have the conversation," he told reporters outside the conference.

WWF spokesman Sean Hoobin said floods and cyclones in Queensland in recent years had wiped out massive areas of the marine habitats.

"It is well and good to set aside certain areas and say that they'll be better protected, but how exactly you do that is the challenge," he told reporters.

The Capricorn Conservation Council wanted to know the locations of seagrass beds to be protected and how quickly protective measures could be taken.

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Urban Land Set to Triple By 2030, Study Suggests

Trevor Stokes Yahoo News 17 Sep 12;

Urban development is set to triple in the first three decades of this century, the largest cityscape expansion in human history, according to a new study that for the first time maps out urbanization hotspots.

The rapid urban growth will come at a cost. Researchers predict the sprawl will swallow up a landmass nearly equivalent in size to South Africa (463,000 square miles, or 1.2 million square kilometers), consume delicate habitats, eliminate an estimated 200 endangered species and will mow down carbon-storing vegetation.

"Over the next 18 years, the world will witness an unprecedented boom in urban expansion," said lead study author Karen Seto, associate professor in the urban environment at Yale University.

That boom will impact people worldwide as demand for raw materials and energy resources increases to build infrastructure, including roads and buildings for urban residents, the researchers said.

"This is not an issue limited to one place or one country, but this is a large-scale global trend; we are now in the century of the city," Seto said of the expansion that will be the equivalent of 20,000 American football fields each day for 30 years. [Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth]

The majority of predicted urban growth (55 percent) is expected to occur in Asia, including a 1,800 km (1,100 miles) east coast urban corridor in China that stretches from Hangzhou to Shenyang plus seven state capitals throughout India.

"Urbanization has been neglected as a factor in deforestation and degradation and their contribution to carbon emissions. The projections are pretty sobering," said Hilda Blanco, interim director of the Center for Sustainable Cities at the University of Southern California, who was not involved in the study. "The study elevates the issue from a more regional to a worldwide scale."

Modeling city growth

Though the United Nations began tracking the global shift to urban centers in 1969, their data used broad strokes that was determined by looking at countrywide shifts.

In the new study, researchers from Yale, Texas A&M and Boston Universities mapped urban growth predictions at a local scale by slicing up the world into a grid where every square represented 25 square kilometers (9.65 square miles).

The trio modeled urban growth in each grid by combining five different datasets: urban growth predictions from the United Nations currently available at the country level; anticipated GDP growth, an indicator of urbanization; NASA satellite mapping data of existing urban areas, overall population projections and population density estimates.

Some results, Seto said, were unexpected. For instance, the models suggested Mexico would undergo intense urban growth in a few specific regions, even as the country overall has a low expectation of urban growth. Meanwhile, the modelers found Turkey, also expected to have low urban growth, would not experience these same intense points of city expansions.

The researchers also overlaid the urban predictive map with 34 known biodiversity hotspots, places threatened the most by human development. Only 1 percent of urban development currently exists in these hotspots, but by 2030, that number would nearly double to 1.8 percent, leading to the extinction of 139 amphibian, 41 mammalian and 25 critically endangered bird species. [Biodiversity Abounds: Stunning Photos of the Amazon]

The urban spread will also consume vegetation that stores carbon, which when released, would act as a heat-trapping "greenhouse" gas.

Limits of urban growth

Not all countries will be directly affected; the modelers predict that 48 out of 221 countries will see little to no urban growth.

And what that urbanization will look like will vary by countries. In this study, the researchers defined urban land as impervious whether from buildings or roads or surrounding infrastructure such as sidewalks. Agricultural land or forest was not included as urban.

However, "what is 'urban' for an Icelander may be a 'small rural village' in one of the eastern provinces of China," Gerhard K. Heilig, chief of the Population Estimates and Projections Section at the United Nations,wrote."The diversity of these definitions is even greater on a city level. "Countries may have several definitions of a particular urban area — such as 'city proper,' 'urban agglomeration,' 'metropolitan area,' etc. Depending on what definition is used, city populations may be very different."

The study also has its had limitations, Heilig pointed out, including out-of-date data used to estimate world prospects for urbanization and the uncertainty of future population projections; an underestimation of uncertainties behind the estimates; and a time dynamic based on a single year, though data across several time points is available.

The study also didn't factor in that depopulation of rural regions could compensate for natural habitat loss due to urban expansion. "In fact, forested areas are expanding in some parts of the world, as a consequence of rural-urban migration," Heigel wrote.The study also didn't include data about roads, an indicator of urban growth since more road access means a higher likelihood of development.

The researchers plan to use the model as a starting point to look at energy and material demands along with modeling local climate and precipitation.

"The cities of tomorrow have not yet been built, there is a lot we can do to shape what these places will become," Seto said.

The study is detailed online today (Sept. 17) in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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August 2012 Was Fourth Hottest in Over a Century Yahoo News 17 Sep 12;

Last month was the globe's fourth hottest August since record keeping began in 1880, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The planet's average August temperature was 61.22 degrees F (16.22 degrees C) this year, which is 1.12 degrees F (0.62 degrees C) above the 20th-century average, according to the climate officials' report.

Last month's temperatures were higher than average in most places around the world, but notably scorching in the United States, eastern Canada, central and southern Europe, and east central Asia. The extent of Arctic sea ice also hit a record low in August, falling to 1.58 million square miles (4.10 million square kilometers), surpassing the previous low, set in September 2007.

August marked the 330th month in a row with a global temperature above the 20th-century average. February 1985 was the last month with a below-average global temperature.

The National Climatic Data Center noted that the El NiƱo warm ocean phase will likely develop during September, bumping tropical Pacific water temperatures higher than normal. For the United States, that could mean a warmer and drier than average winter for northern regions, while the Southwest and Southeast might see more rain than usual.

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