Best of our wild blogs: 13 Apr 16



Wild 'Nemos' on Sentosa's natural shores
wild shores of singapore

Why Count Birds?
Singapore Bird Group

Job: Manager/ Biodiversity (Biodiversity Information & Policy) (deadline 24 Apr 2016)
The Biodiversity crew @ NUS


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A small nation needs to think big

Lydia Lim Straits Times 13 Apr 16;

Yesterday's debate was telling in showing how a small nation like Singapore cannot afford to be consumed by petty matters, such as some commuters' bizarre complaint about MRT stations' lack of shade from the morning sun, which one MP saw it fit to raise during Parliament's scrutiny of the Transport Ministry's budget.

Far bigger challenges loom.

These include the global one of climate change, as well as regional sources of stress over the management of airspace, water scarcity and the haze.

For a sense of what is at stake, consider Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli's reply to MPs' questions on climate change.

He said Singapore is so small that global models of tropical weather do not produce meaningful results that its scientists can use to map out future scenarios.

So the team at the Centre for Climate Research Singapore did their own studies.

They worked for two years to simulate a hundred years of temperature, rainfall, wind and sea-level projections for the city state and the region. Their findings are that by the last few decades of this century, sea levels are projected to rise by between 0.25m and 0.76m; temperatures may increase by 1.4 to 4.6 deg C; and Singapore will experience more intense rainfall.

The Government is acting now to mitigate these effects.

It has invited researchers to propose ways to reduce ambient temperature in housing estates by 4 deg C.

It is building structures to protect the coastline and raising coastal roads to guard against sea-level rises.

And it is setting aside funds for these and other efforts to deal with the effects of climate change.

Mr Masagos' own worry centres on the impact of extreme weather patterns on the sustainability of Singapore's water supply.

He told Parliament: "The drier weather this couple of years saw the water level in Linggiu Reservoir drop to historic lows, from about 80 per cent at the start of 2015 to 36.9 per cent as we speak. This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs.

"Fortunately, because we have diversified our water sources, we have been able to mitigate the impact of the drier weather."

The Linggiu Reservoir in Johor is, as Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) observed, five times larger than all of Singapore's 17 freshwater reservoirs combined.

Singapore is now building its fifth Newater factory to treat and reclaim used water, and is exploring the development of a fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island.

Still, it cannot afford to be complacent, Mr Masagos said.

He cited a study published last month by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which predicted that one billion more people in Asia may experience severe water stress by 2050 due to a confluence of factors that include economic and population growth as well as climate change.

Elsewhere, such shortages have led to tense competition between neighbour states.

Unlike Mr Masagos, though, Singaporeans do not seem overly worried about their future water supply. In a recent survey, air pollution emerged as their top environmental concern, followed by cleanliness of public areas and vector-borne diseases.

Four MPs spoke on the haze, expressing outrage and seeking updates on actions taken against companies that profit commercially from the forest fires in Indonesia.

In transboundary pollution, the lack of physical space is a drawback, and it also weighs heavy on Singapore's ambition to keep flying high as an aviation hub, despite being circumscribed by larger neighbours.

Since 1946, Singapore's air traffic controllers have handled flights that pass through its Flight Information Region(FIR) - assigned to it by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Singapore's FIR crosses state boundaries because, as Senior Minister of State (Transport) Josephine Teo explained, the ICAO assigns FIRs based on technical and operational considerations, to ensure air traffic safety and efficiency.

Some 650,000 flights pass through Singapore's FIR annually and that figure is set to rise to more than a million by 2025.

Singapore has invested heavily in training air traffic controllers and in state-of-the-art equipment, Mrs Teo said.

And yet, if Indonesia were one day to address ICAO's concerns on safety and technical issues, what impact would that have on Singapore's status as an air hub, Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) asked.

That is a challenge Singapore will have to deal with. Should it arise, the little red dot must show it can take the heat and that its people will not wilt in the glare of a little morning sun.


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Climate change forces Singapore to look at 5th desalination plant, in Jurong

Plan comes after drier weather causes levels in Linggiu Reservoir to drop to historic lows
SIAU MING EN Today Online 13 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — Just seven months after announcing the construction of Singapore’s fourth desalination plant in Marina East, the Government is exploring the development of a fifth desalination plant, on Jurong Island, to “further enhance resilience”.

The move comes as more extreme weather patterns due to climate change poses new challenges to Singapore’s water sustainability, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (April 12), noting the need to further strengthen the country’s water supply resilience.

Speaking during the debate on his ministry’s budget in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Masagos painted a picture of how effects of drier weather on water supply has already been seen.

“The drier weather this couple of years saw the water level in Linggiu Reservoir drop to historic lows, from about 80 per cent in 2015 to 36.9 per cent as we speak and decreasing when there’s no rain. This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs,” he said.

“Fortunately, because we have diversified our water sources, our sources, we have been able to mitigate the impact of the drier weather. But we cannot be complacent.”

Under the 1962 water agreement between Singapore and Malaysia, Singapore can currently extract and treat up to 250 million gallons of water per day (equivalent to 60 per cent of Singapore’s daily water needs) from the Johor River. Water from Linggiu Reservoir is released into the Johor River to prevent saltwater intrusion from the sea into the river, as salty water cannot be treated by the water plant further downstream.

Water levels in Linggiu Reservoir has seen flagged as an area of concern four times in the last eight months.

Last August, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who was then helming the environment ministry, had said Linggiu Reservoir’s water levels were at a historic low of 54.5 per cent and have not recovered since the dry spell in early 2014. He had also said there had been 77 occasions, at that stage, where the PUB was temporarily unable to draw water from the river due to salinity intrusions caused by tide levels.

In November, Mr Masagos said the reservoir hit another all-time low of 43 per cent. Last month, the minister said the levels have receded to 42 per cent due to the prolonged dry weather, adding that PUB has been pumping an average of 16 million gallons of NEWater per day into Singapore’s reservoirs to maintain healthy water levels.

Singapore currently has two desalination plants — SingSpring and Tuaspring — which can produce 100 million gallons of freshwater per day from seawater. This can meet almost 25 per cent of the current water demand of 430 million gallons a day.

A third desalination plant in Tuas is under construction and is due to be completed next year while the fourth desalination plant in Marina East and will be completed towards the end of 2019. Both plants are able to produce 30 million gallons of freshwater per day each.

Under the Water Master Plan 2016 review, the fifth NEWater plan at Changi will also be completed at the end of the year and will be able to produce 50 million gallons per day of NEWater. NEWater can currently meet 30 per cent of Singapore’s total water demand.

PUB is also planning to harness more seawater as a resource and will work with companies on Jurong Island to meet cooling demands with seawater instead of freshwater supply, noted Mr Masagos.

About one-tenth of Singapore’s water demand now comes from Jurong Island, which is home to around a hundred petrochemical, specialty chemical and supporting companies. But a large portion of water supplied to them is lost to the atmosphere from cooling processes, reducing the amount that can be collected for reuse.


Water levels at Linggiu Reservoir drop to historic low of 37%
"This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs," says Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Water levels at Johor's Linggiu Reservoir have sunk to a historic low of 37 per cent, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 12).

"This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs," he said, noting that water levels were 80 per cent at the start of 2015. In October last year, water levels hit a record low of 41 per cent and last month, it was 42 per cent.

"Fortunately, because we have diversified our water sources, we have been able to mitigate the impact of the drier weather. But we cannot be complacent," he said.

The minister announced measures to diversify and strengthen Singapore's water supply. For instance, national water agency PUB will explore the feasibility of building a 5th desalination plant for Singapore on Jurong Island, Mr Masagos stated.

Overall, there are plans to expand the total capacity of NEWater and desalination plants to meet up to 85 per cent of water demand by 2060, up from 55 per cent currently.

By then, Singapore's water demand is expected to more than double from some 430 million gallons a day at present; with non-domestic consumption projected to make up 70 per cent of total use.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted the effect of the hot spell on water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir as well. "Water has always been and will always be a strategic issue for Singapore, which is why I watch the water levels very closely," he wrote on Facebook. "We must continue to conserve and make the most of this precious resource. You can do your part by not wasting water, recycling what you can, and always using it wisely."

- CNA/ly


PUB mulling 5th desalination plant on Jurong Island: Masagos
Mr Masagos also announced measures to promote the use of more efficient fittings and appliances, such as the phasing out of less water-efficient taps and mixers.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: To further enhance Singapore’s water supply resilience, plans for a fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island are being considered by PUB, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 12).

Currently, there are two desalination plants, with a third and a fourth – situated in Tuas and Marina East respectively – being built.

Even as the Government plans ahead to strengthen the drought resilience of Singapore’s water supply in the face of climate change, the public and industries must do their part to prevent water wastage, said Mr Masagos, in his Ministry's Committee of Supply debate.

“Over the years, we have made some progress in water efficiency. In 2014, we used 150 litres per person per day, down from 165 litres in 2003. However, this rebounded to 151 litres last year,” he said.

“As we strive towards our SSB (Sustainable Singapore Blueprint) target of 140 litres by 2030, everyone needs do (their) part by adopting more water saving habits and making use of more water-efficient technology.”

MEASURES FOR MORE WATER-EFFICIENT WASHING MACHINES, TAPS

To this end, Mr Masagos said two measures to promote the use of more efficient fittings and appliances will be implemented in early 2017.

First, the Government will introduce a 4-tick rating for washing machines, so that households can select the more water efficient machines from among the current 3-tick models. Washing machines today are labelled with two or three ticks, said Mr Masagos.

Second, 0-tick taps and mixers will be phased out, to allow for only taps and mixers with 1-tick or more to be sold or supplied.

“These are part of our plans to eventually phase out less efficient fittings and appliances by 2018. We will be consulting the industry on these plans,” he added.

With respect to commercial water use, Mr Masago gave an update that more than 600 large water users have submitted their plans to improve water efficiency and reduce water consumption. The submission of these plans, known as Water Efficiency Management Plans (WEMP), have been mandatory for large water users since Jan 2015.

He added that PUB will study the data collected from the WEMP, with the aim of developing water efficiency benchmarks and good practice guidelines.

Singapore’s water demand is projected to double by 2060, according to Mr Masagos, with the non-domestic sector accounting for 70 per cent of future water demand.

- CNA/ll


Water levels in Linggiu Reservoir hit new low
Carolyn Khew, Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Apr 16;

Water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, which helps to meet half of Singapore's water needs, have fallen to a new historic low.

The reservoir is just over one-third full. Last October, water levels in the reservoir already reached a low of 41 per cent, but they have fallen some more to 36.9 per cent.

These levels are far below the 80 per cent that the reservoir in Malaysia had at the start of last year.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament the drop was due to dry weather: "This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs."

He added: "Fortunately, because we have diversified our water resources, we have been able to mitigate the impact of drier weather. But we cannot be complacent."

The Linggiu Reservoir, built upstream of the Johor River in 1994, collects and releases rainwater into the river.

This pushes seawater back into the sea and ensures that the river water is not too salty to be treated by the Singapore-run water treatment plant there.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) were among those who asked about Singapore's long-term plans to ensure water sustainability and resilience to droughts.

Mr Masagos said the Government will continue to "plan and invest ahead of demand" . A Newater factory, which can produce 50 million gallons of water a day, will be built this year and two new desalination plants will be ready by 2019.

Construction of a third desalination plant in Tuas will be completed next year, while the fourth plant in Marina East, which will supply water to the city area, will be ready in end-2019.

Water agency PUB is also exploring building a fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island.

Some 430 million gallons of water are needed here daily. Demand could more than double by 2060.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on his Facebook page last night that water "has always been and will always be a strategic issue for Singapore, which is why I watch the water levels very closely".

"We must continue to conserve and make the most of this precious resource," he said, urging people to do their part by not wasting water.


Tightening the tap on water wastage: Measures ticking along
Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Apr 16;

To encourage water conservation, national water agency PUB will phase out the sale of less efficient taps and mixers as well as introduce new ratings for washing machines.

A new "four-tick" rating will be introduced next year for washing machines under the Mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme.

The scheme enables consumers to make informed decisions by choosing more water-efficient water fittings and appliances such as taps and mixers, and flushing cisterns. The more ticks a product has, the more water-efficient it is.

Currently, washing machines sold have either two- or three-tick water efficiency ratings.

The sale and supply of taps and mixers with "zero ticks" will also be disallowed from early next year.

These measures are all part of the Government's plan to manage water demand.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that extreme weather patterns due to climate change will pose a challenge to Singapore's water sustainability.

While the amount of water used by Singapore residents fell from 160 litres per person per day in 2003, to 150 litres in 2014, the figure rose last year - to about 151 litres of water a day.

Separately, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said that, by 2018, the manufacture, import and export of non-compliant mercury-added batteries will be prohibited.

This refers to those containing more than five parts-per-million mercury per cell.

Singapore generates more than 60,000 tonnes of e-waste each year, and this will only grow as electronic items become more common, Dr Khor added.

A study is under way to look at how feasible system designs can be developed for the collection, recycling and management of e-waste in Singapore.

PUB to call tender for 4th desalination plant today
Carolyn Khew, My Paper AsiaOne 15 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE'S fourth desalination plant, which is set to be completed in 2019, will be the first to treat both fresh and seawater.

When operational, the plant will meet the water needs of the central and eastern parts of the island.

National water agency PUB will call for a tender today for the construction of the plant in Marina East, which will be able to produce up to 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water a day.

PUB said in a press release yesterday that the successful bidder will design, build, own and operate the desalination plant.

The building of the fourth plant is part of the Government's plan to expand its desalination and Newater capacities to meet up to 85 per cent of Singapore's water needs by 2060.

Associate Professor Darren Sun from the Nanyang Technological University's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering said that in the light of climate change, water sustainability is a major concern for Singapore.

"We need to build resilience to combat climate change in long periods without rain," he added.

"The versatile plant will enable us to continuously produce high-quality water from both seawater and freshwater from the marina catchment, while maintaining healthy water levels in the reservoirs."

Singapore currently has two desalination plants. Both are in Tuas and together can produce a total of 100 million gallons of water a day.

The construction of a third plant in Tuas is expected to be completed next year. This will add another 30 million gallons of water a day to Singapore's supply.

William Yeo, PUB's director of policy and planning, said: "Like Newater, desalinated water is independent of rainfall and can be used to supplement our other water sources during dry weather."

During the debate on the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources' budget on Tuesday, Minister Masagos Zulkifli said he was worried about the challenge that extreme weather patterns stemming from climate change could pose to water sustainability.

Water levels in the Linggiu reservoir, which helps to supply half of Singapore's water needs, fell to a new historic low of 36.9 per cent on Tuesday.

Singapore's current water demand stands at about 430 million gallons of water per day. This could more than double by 2060, with non-domestic demand estimated to make up 70 per cent of overall water use.


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Govt to take the lead in using environment-friendly products

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 13 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — Even as Singapore authorities pursue action under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, the government sector will play its part as a consumer — by buying only printing paper products with the Singapore Green Label from the third-quarter of this year. Paper products bearing the label indicate that the supplier practises sustainable forestry management, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday. The public sector buys about 2 million reams, or about 1 billion sheets, of printing paper a year.

The Government will also start buying only electrical products certified to be highly energy efficient, he said. It will start with four electrical items, namely air-conditioners, lamps, television sets and refrigerators.

Asked by Members of Parliament (MPs) for updates on the preventive notices the National Environment Agency (NEA) sent to six companies in Indonesia last year during the haze, Mr Masagos said two have responded and NEA is corresponding with them and verifying the information provided. NEA is also reviewing information from Asia Pulp and Paper Company.

Four other companies did not respond, and NEA served a notice to the foreign director of one of the companies when he was in Singapore, Mr Masagos revealed. The notice requires the director to provide information and attend an interview in relation to ongoing investigations. NEA declined to reveal the director’s identity or his company.

Mr Masagos said he may consider Nominated MP Mahdev Mohan’s suggestion of having out-of-court settlements with companies as an alternative to criminal prosecution, when the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act is reviewed in future.

Transboundary haze caused by widespread fires in Indonesia affected the region for a prolonged spell last year, and Mr Masagos said there is no easy solution to the complex issue, but Singapore would continue to promote regional cooperation and support Indonesia’s efforts to tackle the problem. NEO CHAI CHIN

Government to lead fight against climate change, haze: Masagos Zulkifli
This means procuring printing paper products that carry the Singapore Green Label, and buying electrical products that have been certified with high energy efficiency, says the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: The Government will be taking the lead in the fight against transboundary haze and climate change as a consumer, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (Apr 12).

"Our consumers and consumers all around the world are rightfully indignant when companies here and abroad blatantly violate their health and well-being with unsustainable practices ... These actions demonstrate the significant power of a collective consumer voice," he said.

Mr Masagos said in his ministry's Committee of Supply debate that the Government will take the lead by procuring only electrical products that have been certified with high energy efficiency. Four electrical items - air conditioners, lamps, televisions and refrigerators - will kickstart the initiative, which will gradually extend to other items, he added.

Additionally, the Government will procure printing paper products that carry the Singapore Green Label - an indication that the supplier practises sustainable forestry management. This will start from the third quarter of this year, he said.

Singapore Environment Council's head of eco-certification, Kavickumar Muruganathan, said the Government sector is one of the largest purchasers of paper products.

"While we cannot do so much about the forest fires on the ground, we hope that by having a sustainable, green procurement policy, the paper and pulp manufacturers would actually consider manufacturing their paper products in a sustainable manner so that they can retain their market share."

Legislatively, the country is also doing its part in tackling the transboundary haze issue. Mr Masagos pointed to the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) and said the National Environment Agency (NEA) sent Preventive Measures Notices under Section 9 of the Act to six companies based in Indonesia following last year's haze episodes.

Of the six, two have responded and NEA is corresponding with them and verifying the information provided. Among the four that did not reply, NEA recently served Notices under Sections 10 and 11 of the Act on a foreign director when he was in Singapore, the minister said.

"These Notices require him to provide information and attend an interview in relation to the ongoing investigations. In accordance with the law, we will take what steps we can to enforce the THPA, bearing in mind that outside of Singapore, there are limited possibilities," he added.

Mr Masagos stressed that even if the errant company's officers are foreigners, they will have to comply with Singapore's laws, including under the THPA, should they come to Singapore.

- CNA/kk

Greener moves for cleaner air
Samantha Boh, The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Apr 16;

The Government will buy only printing paper products that carry the Singapore Green Label come September.

Public agencies will also procure only electrical products certified with "high energy efficiency", starting with air-conditioners, refrigerators, televisions and lamps. For example, only air-conditioners rated at least three-ticks will be allowed.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli made this commitment to signal the public sector's efforts to take the lead in encouraging sustainable practices. A Green Label indicates that suppliers practise sustainable forestry management, which helps tackle the root cause of transboundary haze pollution.

Mr Masagos also announced a key measure to tackle local air pollution: All new motorcycles above 200cc will need to comply with the Euro 4 emission standard from Jan 1, 2018. For new motorcycles under or equal to 200cc, the rules apply from Jan 1, 2020.

Motorcycles are significant contributors to carbon monoxide and ozone, Mr Masagos said.

The Euro 4 standard will reduce emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which form ozone, by an estimated 50 per cent in new motorcycles, compared to Euro 3.

A study of the pollution caused by diesel vehicles in Singapore is also being done, to analyse the impact on public health and the environment. The results will be used to review vehicle emission policies.

MPs Faishal Ibrahim (Nee Soon GRC) and Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) asked about ongoing efforts by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to take to task companies responsible for illegal forest fires that caused last year's haze.

Mr Masagos said the NEA has sent Preventive Measures Notices under Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to six Indonesia-based companies, asking them to take immediate steps to mitigate fires and prevent a repeat.

Two - PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and PT Wachyuni Mandira - have responded, and NEA is in touch with them to verify their information.

NEA is also reviewing information from Asia Pulp and Paper on its subsidiaries and steps taken by its Indonesian suppliers to put out fires in their concessions.

A foreign director from one of the four firms that have yet to respond was also recently served with a notice when he was in Singapore, asking him to give information and attend an interview related to the ongoing investigations


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Lack of progress on MOU to combat haze with Jambi 'unfortunate': Masagos

"It is indeed unfortunate that as enthusiastic as we are to help out our friends, we are not being responded to," says the Environment and Water Resources Minister.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Despite promises from Indonesia that it wants to resume discussions on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on haze mitigation in Jambi province, Singapore has yet to hear from Indonesian officials on the details, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Tuesday (Apr 12).

Singapore had in 2007 collaborated with Indonesia’s environment ministry and the Jambi Provincial Government to jointly develop a master plan to deal with land and forest fires. The collaboration ended in 2011, but an MOU was proposed to extend it.

Responding to a question by Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim on progress of the discussions, Mr Masagos said: "On our part, we are very keen to do this, because that will put people - their people on the ground - to be trained in fire mitigation, in reporting onset of haze, and will help everybody," he said.

The minister said there was also the possibility of them working with Malaysian counterparts who have successfully suppressed peatland fires.

"It is indeed unfortunate that as enthusiastic as we are to help out our friends, we are not being responded to," Mr Masagos said.

- CNA/xk


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NEA to test using Wolbachia bacteria-carrying mosquitoes in fight against dengue

The small-scale field study will involve the release of male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes at a few selected sites at the end of the year.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Bacteria-carrying mosquitoes will be released at a few selected sites at the end of 2016 in a bid to suppress the Aedes aegypti mosquito population responsible for transmitting the dengue virus, said the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) on Tuesday (April 12).

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has been conducting a feasibility study to fight dengue by deploying male Aedes mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia bacteria. When they mate with a female, Wolbachia-free Aedes aegypti mosquito, the eggs they produce will not hatch.

NEA said the upcoming small-scale study aims to understand the behaviour of Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes in an urban built-up environment, such as their longevity and flight range. This data collected will support the design of a subsequent suppression trial.

This comes against the backdrop of 6,338 dengue cases reported in the first quarter of 2016, nearly triple the amount reported for the same period in 2015. NEA previously said that the number of dengue cases in 2016 may exceed 30,000, above the record 22,170 reported in 2013.

NO PUBLIC RISK

NEA has assured the public that the male mosquitoes do not bite and hence the release of the Wolbachia-Aedes will not pose any risk of biting or disease transmission.

“We are not embarking on this lightly,” Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament during the Committee of Supply debates on Tuesday. “We have studied this for years and have taken all steps to ensure public health and safety will not be compromised. Our comprehensive risk assessment has concurred with previous findings on the safety of this technology. We will engage residents and stakeholders to provide more information on the technology and the study in due course.”

NEA also appointed a research company in October last year to conduct an independent assessment, due to be completed in July, to identify any potential secondary environmental and social impact that may arise from the implementation of the technology. The review will also identify appropriate mitigation and monitoring measures, to minimise and forewarn of any possible secondary consequences before, during and after implementation, said NEA.

CONTINUING PREVENTION EFFORTS

NEA also noted that in March this year there was a 30 per cent reduction in mosquito population, and an associated reduction in the weekly number of dengue cases. Nonetheless, Mr Masagos said: “The recent decrease in cases does not mean that we are safe. Similar to past years, cases may increase as we enter the traditional dengue season in June.”

Source eradication of mosquito breeding habitats and spraying of insecticides to control the adult mosquito population remains the key to dengue prevention, said NEA.

The agency said it had conducted some 350,000 inspections islandwide this year, as of March 31, and uncovered about 4,200 instances of mosquito breeding habitats. More than 20 Stop Work Orders and 120 Notices to Attend Court have been issued to construction site contractors for mosquito breeding, with over 10 court prosecutions dealt out for repeat offences.

As of March 14, NEA has also extended its enforcement regime to all residences found with mosquito breeding, regardless of whether they are within or outside dengue cluster. From January to March this year, over 470 households were fined for breeding mosquitoes.

- CNA/jo

NEA to deploy bacteria-infected mosquitoes in fight against dengue
SIAU MING EN Today Online 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — Male Aedes mosquitoes infected with a naturally-occurring bacteria that causes dud eggs when they mate will be released at a few selected sites at the end of this year in the first field study in Singapore on this biological control method’s effectiveness in suppressing the mosquito population.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli announced the six-month study on Tuesday (April 12), which aims to get a clearer picture of how these Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes survive in Singapore’s urban built-up environment and their vertical and horizontal flight range in the open environment.

Only male mosquitoes will be released for the study and as they do not bite, there is no risk of biting or disease transmission, said the National Environment Agency in a press release. Wolbachia is a naturally-occurring bacteria found in over 60 per cent of insect species, including butterflies, fruit flies, dragonflies, and certain mosquito species. The bacteria is, however, not found in the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Speaking during the debate on his ministry’s budget on Tuesday, Mr Masagos said, without disclosing the test locations: “We are not embarking on this lightly. We have studied this for years and have taken all steps to ensure that public health and safety will not be compromised.”

Nevertheless, a research company was appointed to carry out an independent assessment on whether the biological control method will pose any potential secondary environmental and social impact, and how to minimise these consequences. The study will conclude in July this year.

Injecting male Aedes with Wolbachia and releasing them as a way to suppress the species’ population has been around since the 1960s and has been tested in various countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, and Brazil.

When an infected male mates with a female, the eggs do not hatch.

In Singapore, the authorities first announced it was considering the method in June 2014 and have so far conducted feasibility tests in laboratories, but not in the field.

Mr Masagos said his ministry will engage residents and stakeholders to provide more information on the technology and study in due course.

The field study comes in the wake of a warning issued by the authorities in February that Singapore could have a historic high of 30,000 dengue cases this year because of the ongoing El Nino phenomenon, along with a change in the type of dengue virus circulating among Singapore’s population. The previous record was 22,170 dengue cases in 2013.

In the first three months this year, there were 6,338 dengue cases, which is more than double that during the same period last year. Although there was a 30 per cent reduction in mosquito population last month, leading to an associated reduction in the weekly number of dengue cases, Mr Masagos cautioned that Singapore is not in the clear, warning that the number of cases may yet climb during the traditional dengue season in June.

Among other efforts to tackle dengue, the NEA will train 5,000 more Dengue Prevention Volunteers this year, to nearly double the pool of 5,800 such individuals tasked with educating the public on riding breeding sites. The additional volunteers can boost house visit efforts, especially in yellow and red dengue cluster areas. Another 250 temporary officers will also be engaged by the NEA this year to carry out inspections islandwide.

Field study to assess using special mozzies against dengue
Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Apr 16;

A field study will be conducted at the end of this year to assess if a special type of mosquito can be a weapon against dengue.

The male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes will be released into the environment in the small-scale study to be conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Speaking during the debate on the ministry's budget, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said the Government was not embarking on the study "lightly", and had "studied this for years and taken all steps to ensure that public health and safety will not be compromised".

Only male mosquitoes, which do not bite, will be released.

Wolbachia is a naturally occurring bacteria that can be found in over 60 per cent of insect species, but not in dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

When male mosquitoes carrying the bacteria mate with wild female mosquitoes, they produce eggs that do not hatch. This could help to suppress the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the long run. The method has been used in the fight against dengue in countries such as Australia and Brazil.

The study will look at the behaviour of these special mosquitoes in the built-up environment, such as how long they can live in the wild and their flight range. The data collected will help in the design of a future trial. Previously, studies were conducted in the laboratory by the Environmental Health Institute under the NEA.

Based on the NEA's assessment so far, the technology poses no or insignificant risk of negative impact on public health or ecology.

The NEA has appointed a research firm to identify any potential secondary environmental and social impact that may arise.

Dengue expert Tikki Pang said each country's situation is unique and "only time will tell" if the technology will work in Singapore.

"Any tool that helps in the battle against dengue should be considered and tested," added the visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

The announcement comes on the back of a sharp rise in the number of dengue cases this year. A total of 6,338 dengue cases were reported between January and March this year, almost three times as many as the 2,251 cases reported in the same period last year.

The authorities have warned that unless immediate action is taken to suppress the Aedes mosquito population, the number of dengue cases this year may exceed 30,000 - higher than the record set in 2013 when 22,170 cases were reported.

Several MPs also asked about the Government's plan to approve the dengue vaccine for use here.

Mr Masagos replied that it has been closely tracking the development of the vaccine. But as the vaccine is new, "we do not know yet whether its quality is what (the manufacturer) promised it to be".


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NEA to tighten enforcement to tackle growing rat population

About 43,000 rat burrows were detected in 2015, about 1,000 more compared to the previous year. Over the two years, 85 per cent were found in housing estates.
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 13 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) is tightening its enforcement to tackle the growing rat population in the Republic, announced Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor in Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 12).

The measures are part of wider efforts to improve public cleanliness.

About 43,000 rat burrows were detected in 2015, about 1,000 more compared to the previous year. Over the two years, 85 per cent were found in housing estates. Therefore, from July, NEA will step up enforcement for breaches in areas managed by town councils.

Said Dr Khor: "It remains a challenge for town councils in their rodent control efforts due to the many bin chutes and bin centres and numerous food stalls in our housing estates. Ultimately, the key to managing rat infestation is to remove food sources and areas of harbourage.

"Stakeholders have a responsibility to improve the housekeeping of their premises, such as bin centres and refuse chutes, and to deny rats easy access to food sources. And this has to be a consistent and sustained effort by all parties."

In 2015, more than 200 enforcement actions were taken against owners of premises, including Town Councils. To get all stakeholders to work together to coordinate their pest control plans, NEA has also piloted taskforces in four locations - Redhill Close, Bedok Central, Clementi Avenue 3 and Bangkit Road.

These are areas with multiple stakeholders, and actions by one party may simply displace the rats to another location, said Dr Khor.

Besides this, NEA is also encouraging the community to play a bigger role to keep Singapore clean. A Bill was passed earlier this year to expand its Community Volunteer (CV) Programme and empower members of the public to take action against litterbugs.

"Let me clarify that even with the amended legislation, we will only allow the CVs, like before, to use their authority card to request for the particulars of a non-compliant offender, for NEA’s investigations and enforcement. The CV's primary role is to encourage the public to take responsibility for the environment, and they do not issue tickets to offenders," said Dr Khor.

So far, the community volunteers have engaged more than 2,500 potential offenders.

- CNA/ek


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Malaysia: El Nino bearing down on Malaysians

R.S.N. MURALI, RAHIMY RAHIM, LOSHANA K SHAGAR, STEPHANIE LEE, and LOGEISWARY THEVADASS
The Star 13 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: More Malaysians are falling sick over the past few months due to the hot and dry weather brought on by the El Nino phenomenon.

Even some of those who recovered after taking medication claimed that they fell sick again in just a matter of days because of the heatwave.

Ann Marshall, 43, said when she felt the first signs of fever, cough and flu two weeks ago, she had gone to the doctor immediately.

“I was diagnosed with bronchitis and this is the first time I am experiencing this. I am also having difficulty breathing.

“I was taking more iced drinks to cool down in the hot weather and the difference between the heat outside and the air-conditioned office environment made things worse,” she said here yesterday.

Marshall, who is a secretary with an aviation company in Damansara, said she had taken a full dose of antibiotics, along with six other medications to recover.

However, she fell sick again within 24 hours of her recovery, but this time she refused to take more medication.

“I’m taking natural supplements which I also find helpful and I’m drinking a lot of water to help with the heat,” she said.

Lawyer Gowri Chandran, 27, was among the increasing number of Malaysians who had shown signs of fever, cough and flu in the past few weeks.

“I was down with fever for more than four days and I’m still coughing,” she said.

The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) said it was prepared to carry out cloud seeding exercises over several northern states, including Perlis, Pahang, Kedah as well as Sabah and Sarawak.

Its director-general Datuk Zaitun Ab Samad said the full details would be determined by a Workgroup Meeting on Tackling the Hot and Dry Weather to be chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim later.

“We have yet to get the full details but I believe we will conduct operations in areas that are facing water shortage,” she said.

She said the cloud seeding operations would be jointly carried out by the air force and the Meteorological Department and coordinated by Nadma following the Cabinet’s approval.

“It is not a full blown crisis but we are prepared to carry it out in certain areas.

“Many states still have enough water in their dams,” she said.

As at 4.30pm yesterday, the levels at Bukit Merah, Perak, and Bukit Kwong, Kelantan, recorded below the 50% storage level.

Water rationing for Perlis if no rainfall in next four days
MELISSA DARLYNE CHOW New Straits Times 12 Apr 16;

KANGAR: Perlis is not ruling out the possibility of carrying out water rationing in the state, should there not be rainfall over the next four days.

Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man ‎said the move may be necessary if the water level at Timah Tasoh Dam drops further to 26.2 metres.

The water level at the dam presently stands at 26.29 metres, and based on the current temperature, the dam is losing about 0.02 metres daily.

"Based on the current situation, if rain still does not fall in the next four days, we will have to carry out water rationing.

"Further details such as the areas which will be affected will be discussed with the National Security Council," he told reporters on the sidelines of the state assembly sitting today.

He expressed hope there would be rainfall, based on the cloud seeding exercise to be undertaken for a week starting today.

Water trickles in for Banggi folk
The Star 13 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Pulau Banggi remains dry as critical water supplies trickled into Malaysia’s largest island.

In a ceremony yesterday, Banggi assemblyman Datuk Abdul Mijul Unaini distributed bottled water to islanders who have been begging for help for the last two weeks.

Some 1,300 boxes of bottled water were sent in on Monday while 30,000 litres of potable treated water were brought in by the state Water Department by boat for hospitals and other critically affected areas.

The treated water is also currently being pumped into water tanks at the Karakit Banggis main settlement.

However, the move to have a special ceremony was criticised by state minister Datuk Masidi Manjun in a tweet, who urged the local assemblyman not to waste time with ceremonies.

“YBs are elected to serve the people, especially their constituents unconditionally. Unnecessary protocol and ceremonies should be set aside”, he said.

Mijul when contacted said there was no ceremony but a briefing to all the chairmen of the village security and development committees on how the bottled water should be distributed.

“We don’t want any problems, why should there be any ceremony? This is a dry spell and we want to give help as soon as possible,” he said.

He said they were focusing on giving water to villagers in Kampung Singgahmata, Kampung Perpaduan Karakit, Kampung Log Tohog and Kampung Kobong as well as the hospital and some schools first.

Although villagers across Banggi said that their traditional water sources from wells and streams had dried up, assistant district officer for Banggi Awang Shahrin Awang Bakar said only 75% of the 25,000 population were seriously affected by the dry spell.

“Water supply will also be given to those less affected if there is extra,” he said.

Since last weekend, most areas in Sabah, including northern Kudat and Pitas, experienced heavy rain that brought some relief to the three-month dry spell.

Cloud seeding underway in the north
The Star 13 Apr 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Meteorolo­gical Department has started cloud seeding in the peninsula’s northern region.

A department spokesman said the operation began yesterday, with a plane taking off from the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas, as the team from the department was based there.

“The operation will go on for a week and cover four northern states, namely Penang, Perak, Kedah and Perlis. It will focus mainly on areas with agricultural activities.

“The most suitable time to conduct cloud seeding is between noon and 3pm, but it also depends on the atmosphere and the presence of suitable clouds,” she said.

Those staying in the northern region have been putting up with the heatwave for a month.

They are hoping for the seasonal heavy rains to come soon and provide some cool respite.


Cloud seeding exercise to start today in Perlis, Pahang & Kedah
FAZLEENA AZIZ New Straits Times 12 Apr 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) will be carrying out large scale cloud seeding exercises in Perlis, Pahang and Kedah starting today onwards.

Nadma director-general Datuk Zaitun Ab Samah said details of the exercise would be determined following the Workgroup Meeting on Tackling the Hot and Dry Weather chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim today.

She said the Cabinet had approved the exercise by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) following the increase in hot temperatures.

“Prior to this the cloud seeding exercise was carried out by National Security Council (NSC), now it will come under Nadma, who will determine based on the necessity and frequency.

“So far, the Meteorological Department has carried out smaller scale cloud seeding exercise through private companies in several areas.

“The cost of each cloud seeding exercise is about RM80,000, and this will be borne by Nadma,” she said, adding the budget for the total exercise would be determined later.

Schools in Temerloh and Jerantut to reopen tomorrow as heat wave abates
T.N.ALAGESH New Straits Times 12 Apr 16;

KUANTAN: All 155 schools in Temerloh and Jerantut will reopen tomorrow as temperatures recorded over the past 24-hours were below 36 degrees celsius in the affected areas.

State Education director Datuk Rosdi Ismail said the 117 primary schools and 38 secondary schools in the two districts would resume classes after being closed for two days.

He said the school’s administration had been reminded to take precautionary measures including cancelling all outdoor activities until further notice.

"Lessons will continue normally in classrooms but outdoor activities are still suspended.

We will monitor the situation," he said.

On Monday, the Education Ministry ordered all schools in the two districts to be closed for a day after temperature readings exceeded 37 degrees celsius due to the El Nino phenomenon.

The department ordered the schools to remain close today due to continuous extreme hot weather.

There are 50,492 students in Temerloh and Jerantut.

Construction worker in Langkawi suffers heat cramps due to heat wave
MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 13 Apr 16;

ALOR STAR: A Thai national who was working at a construction site in Langkawi fainted due to heatstroke after working for about four hours under the scorching sun yesterday.

State Health director Datuk Dr Norhizan Ismail who confirmed the incident said that the 46-year-old is currently still receiving treatment at the Langkawi Hospital. ‎

"It was learnt that the man had been working continuously under the scorching heat at a construction site in Langkawi for about four hours when the incident took place.

"During the 3pm incident, his colleague noticed that he experienced muscle cramps on both his hands and rushed him to the Langkawi Hospital. "He however became unconscious as soon as they arrived and was immediately given treatment by the hospital's Emergency Unit.

During that time his body temperature rose to 42 degrees Celsius," he said.

According to Dr Norhizan, the worker's body temperature reduced to 39.7 degree Celsius after about an hour.

"With the recent incident in Langkawi, there are so far a total of 18 heatwave-related cases reported in the state. The first incident took place on March 2.

"From the total 18 cases, three of the cases involved heat cramps, 14 cases involved heat exhaustion and one heatstroke.

"Among the victims, seven were students, which include one case that took place in school with the other seven outside school hours.

"Two of the cases reported also involved children aged three and five, one case involved an 81-year-old senior citizen and the remaining eight cases involved those between 20 and 51," he said.

Dr Norhizan also said that six of the victims were warded while 12 only received outpatient treatment.

Dr Norhizan advised the public to follow the health tips given by the state Health Department in order to prevent any health issues due to the heatwave, which can lead to death, should they delay in seeking medical attention.


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Malaysia: Selangor coastal erosion cause for concern

EDWARD RAJENDRA The Star 13 Apr 16;

COASTAL erosion along several areas of Selangor’s 291km coastline is a cause for concern for the local authorities.

Winds and waves, which are the major forces in changing the state’s coastline, have led to the shorelines being eaten up and labelled as “critical stretches”.

Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) acting director Nor Zamri Sondor said the changing coastline, which is caused by wind and waves, washes off one area and builds up in another.

“Winds and movement of the waves causes non-stop sand movement and hard structures like sea walls and even large stones are placed to curb shoreline erosion.

“Most of the time, we suggest natural approaches such replanting mangrove saplings. As the waves roll up to the shore, they pick up sand from the ocean floor and when the waves hit the shore, they deposit the sand.

“Over and over sand is moved but with mangrove trees, it helps to a certain extent to hold the sand and curb the impact of erosion,” he said.

Five districts in Selangor with a coastline are Sabak Bernam (60km), Kuala Selangor (60km), Klang (76km), Kuala Langat (80km) and Sepang (15km).

LUAS coastal management engineer Norfaezah Shamsuddin said sand that rolls up in the waves washes up in a gradual pattern from one area and accumulates further down the coast.

“Several stretches along Selangor’s coast in critical condition are Pantai Bagan Nakhoda Omar in Sabak Bernam, Pantai Bagan Lalang in Sepang, Batu Laut in Kuala Langat and Pantai Remis in Kuala Selangor.

“Various anti-erosion methods have been adopted. The Drainage and Irrigation Department is working with local authorities dredging sand for use in coastal reclamation to create a beach,” she said.

Agriculture, aquaculture and industries in the coastal mangrove areas have also contributed to the increase in waves crashing onto man-made bunds, at times breaching them. Newer bunds are then built landward.

Kuala Selangor District Council (MDKS) president Noraini Roslan said construction of buildings too close to the coastline could not be allowed as it would contribute to the erosion.

“Hard structures, depending on their size and activities, affect the coastal area differently.

“MDKS does get proposals to build budget hotels and seafood restaurants along the coast but our concern is the soft-sediment coasts which are most vulnerable to erosion,” she said.

Noraini added that the council had been rehabilitating Pantai Remis in the Sungai Sembilang area by planting mangrove saplings, placing rocks along the beaches and improving drainage.

“Pantai Remis is a hotspot for tourists and we began rehabilitation works in 2014. It will be completed in 2018 under three phases.

“The first phase was from 2013 to 2014 involving the construction of stalls to rehouse traders away from the eroding coastline.

“We also built two volleyball courts to encourage beach sports,” she said.

In the second phase from 2015 to 2016, a 500m sea wall was built to stop further erosion on Pantai Remis.

Noraini added that the council had deliberated extensively on how best to protect the coastline and had chosen the use of sea walls, mangrove planting as well as enrichment with sand and rocks.

“MDKS has allocated RM1.5mil while the district Drainage and Irrigation Department received a RM6mil allocation to fill the eroded coastline.

“For more effective measures to protect the coastline, we will need an additional budget of RM3mil to RM5mil,” she said.


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Monsoon forecast offers cheer to India's farmers

Key agricultural states are facing a crippling shortage of rainfall that has hurt the farming sector and forced the rationing of drinking water to some communities.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

NEW DELHI: India's meteorological department on Tuesday (Apr 12) said it forecast an above-average monsoon this year, offering hope for farmers at a time when several regions are facing severe drought.

Key agricultural states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are facing a crippling shortage of rainfall that has hurt the farming sector and forced the rationing of drinking water to some communities.

"The rainfall over the country as a whole for the southwest monsoon 2016 is likely to be above normal," Laxman Singh Rathore, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told reporters in New Delhi.

The southwest monsoon refers to India's four-month-long monsoon season, which starts in June. In addition to the country-wide forecast, the meteorological department said that some of the worst-affected regions could also expect sufficient rains.

"These areas too will get good rainfall," Rathore said. "In all it's good news, that monsoon 2016 will be good."

Earlier on Tuesday the city of Latur in Maharashtra, one of the worst drought-hit regions in the country, received a supply of drinking water brought by a special train.

"Train with drinking water arrives at drought affected Latur early this morning. Distribution to begin soon," Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Twitter.

India's agriculture sector, which employs about 60 percent of the population but contributes only around 15 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, is largely monsoon-reliant.

Announcing its annual budget in February the government promised to spend billions of dollars to double the income of struggling farmers and boost the rural economy.

- AFP/yt


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Sea-level rise factors unravelled

Myles Gough BBC 13 Apr 16;

Global sea-level rise since the 1970s has been predominantly driven by greenhouse gas emissions and not natural climate variability, a study suggests.

Over the last 100 years, sea levels have been rising much faster than over previous millennia.

Now, scientists have modelled the cumulative forces driving observed sea-level rise in the modern era.

Details of the work are published in Nature Climate Change.

"The influence of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and aerosols - the human component, due to the burning of fossil fuels principally - is small in the beginning of the 20th century, only about 15%," says Dr John Church, a sea-level rise expert at CSIRO, the Australian federal research agency.

"But after 1970 it's the dominant factor, contributing to about 70% of the rise from 1970 up to present day."

"Natural internal climate variability, while it affects sea-level on short periods, has very little impact on the trend during the 20th century."

The findings illustrate the extent to which humans have influenced sea-level rise over the last 115 years, and raise concerns about future sea-level and climate change scenarios.

As the Earth's climate continues to warm, the rate of sea-level rise is expected to accelerate, increasing the risk of coastal flooding.

"There are thresholds we could well cross during the 21st century, which would lead to multi-metre sea-level rise unless there is urgent and significant mitigation," said Dr Church.

If we can stay below a global temperature increase of 2C, Dr Church says the rate of sea-level rise could stabilise, and potentially decrease by the end of the 21st century.

Either way, he says it's imperative that governments begin planning for coastal adaptation, either protecting infrastructure and communities or withdrawing, as some sea-level rise is unavoidable.

Modelling the rise

Using climate model simulations from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the CSIRO-led team calculated the main drivers of sea-level rise: glacial and ice sheet melting, and ocean thermal expansion. This is when warmer ocean temperatures cause the volume of water to expand.

The team then applied these calculations to the following individual forces, which contribute to sea-level rise: GHGs, aerosol pollutants in the atmosphere, natural climate variability (such as El NiƱo and Pacific Decadal Oscillation systems), historical climate responses, variable solar radiation levels, and volcanic eruptions.

After putting them together, and comparing the contributions to observed sea-level rise during the 20th century, the team was able to paint a comprehensive picture of which forces had the biggest impact over that period.

From 1900 to 1950, the biggest factor contributing to sea-level rise was a natural climate response following the Little Ice Age - a period between 1300 and 1870 when the northern hemisphere endured significantly colder winters.

Human influence began increasing around 1950, and became the dominant force after 1970, due to the cumulative effect of greenhouse gases, said Dr Church.

Prof Matthew England, deputy director of the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW Australia, says the latest findings are "very consistent with what we've long suspected" about the influence of human activities on sea-level rise.

It's consistent with that we know about "how temperatures have warmed globally, and how ice over the land masses of Antarctica and Greenland, have melted over time," he says. "But it's really important to go and do the detailed analysis."

"We can't adapt blind," he says. "We need to understand sea-level rise, how quickly it will change in the future, how it will vary around the coast."


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