Best of our wild blogs: 4 Dec 14

Job Opportunity: Management Assistant Officer
from News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

from The annotated budak

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Indonesia: Flights in Sumatra still affected by forest, land fires

Fadli The Jakarta Post 3 Dec 14;

Flights from Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, to a number of airports in Sumatra are still affected by haze as a result of land and forest fires.

A Lion Air flight departing to Pangkalpinang had to turn back to Batam after it failed to land at its destination, which was blanketed by haze.

Hang Nadim International Airport head of general affairs Suwarso told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that haze from fires continued to cloud several areas in Sumatra, affecting flights in the area.

“Among airports still affected by the haze are Sultan Syarif Kasim II in Pekanbaru and Sultan Taha in Jambi, as well as airports in Palembang and Pangkalpinang,” he said.

Suwarso said the haze had reduced visibility, causing planes to be unable to land.

Based on airport data, he said, Lion Air flight number JT 128 that departed to Pangkalpinang from Hang Nadim at 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday was forced to return to Batam as the destination airport had to temporarily close due to weather-related reasons.

“The aircraft was able to depart and land at Pangkalpinang later in the afternoon,” said Suwarso.

On Wednesday, flights to a number of areas in Sumatra from Hang Nadim International Airport ran smoothly. There were no delays or cancellations due to haze.

“We will still try to anticipate weather disruptions caused by the haze,” said Suwarso.

Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Batam chapter head Philip Mustamu said visibility in Batam had returned to above 10,000 meters during the last several weeks after haze from fires blanketing the area had reduced visibility to below 5,000 meters. (ebf)(+++)

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This year may be hottest on record; adds urgency to climate talks: U.N.

Alister Doyle Reuters Yahoo News 4 Dec 14;

LIMA (Reuters) - This year is on track to be the hottest on record, or at least among the very warmest, the United Nations said on Wednesday in new evidence of long-term warming that adds urgency to 190-nation talks under way in Lima on slowing climate change.

Including this year, 14 of the 15 most sweltering years on record will have been in the 21st century, the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization said of the findings presented during the Dec. 1-12 climate negotiations in Peru.

"There is no standstill in global warming," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. "What is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface."

The WMO said average sea surface temperatures hit record highs in 2014. On land, it listed extremes including floods in Bangladesh and Britain and droughts in China and California.

Reliable global temperature records date from about 1850.

If temperatures stay similarly above normal for the rest of the year, "2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998," the WMO said, based on temperatures for January to October. A cool finish would push 2014 down the list.

Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N.'s Climate Change Secretariat, called the heat "bad news" that showed a need for action to limit rising greenhouse gas emissions.

"The urgency is actually to get, ... hopefully within this decade, to the turning point" to start cutting emissions, she said. The Lima talks are working on a deal to limit climate change, due to be agreed in Paris in a year's time.

The global average air temperature over land and the sea surface for January to October was 0.57 degree Centigrade (1.03 Fahrenheit) above the average of 14C (57.2F) for 1961-1990, the WMO said.

Skeptics who doubt climate change is mainly man-made often note that temperatures have not risen much since 1998, despite surging greenhouse gas emissions.

But Figueres said the underlying temperature trend was up, decade by decade. "Every single one of us can look out the window and see the effect of climate change where we live,” she said. "There is not one country that is exempt."

Environmentalists also said the findings should spur action. The data "should send chills through anyone who says they care about climate change," said Samantha Smith, head of the WWF conservation group’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

Still, some experts advised caution.

"Advocates should be wary of over-claiming, because if you see a record one year, you probably won’t see another one the following year due to natural variability," said Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a London-based private consultancy.

Among other WMO findings, Arctic sea ice was the sixth smallest on record in summer 2014 while Antarctic sea ice paradoxically expanded to a record large extent, apparently because of changing wind patterns.

In good news, the WMO counted just 72 tropical storms until mid-November 2014, against a long-term average of 89 a year.

(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

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