Best of our wild blogs: 10 Jul 16

Mass coral bleaching at Terumbu Semakau
wild shores of singapore

Singapore Bird Report-June 2016
Singapore Bird Group

A Gorgeous Jewel Emerges...
Butterflies of Singapore

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Malaysia: Start preparing for floods, urges Minister

LOSHANA K. SHAGAR The Star 10 Jul 16;

PETALING JAYA: The National Disaster Management Agency is coordinating disaster preparedness and flood mitigation plans for La Nina, which is expected to occur by year-end.

Science, Technology and Inno­va­tion Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said while most climate models had the same prediction on La Nina, the occurrence could only be confirmed after October.

“In Malaysia, the La Nina will usually lead to increase in rainfall over Sabah and the northern part of Sarawak, especially during the north-east monsoon period.

“As La Nina is usually associated with heavy rains, floods are therefore expected to occur especially in low-lying areas,” he told The Star.

As the Philippines and Taiwan floundered under the onslaught of Super Typhoon Nepartak, inter­national weather forecasters have predicted a possible deluge in Malaysia in the next few months.

The La Nina is likely to be here at the tail end of the strongest El Nino in 20 years, which brought scorching heat and dry days.

A report by the US National Ocea­nic Atmospheric Administra­tion Climate Prediction Centre indicates that La Nina will occur with a 75% certainty.

At the moment, Madius said Ma­­laysia was experiencing the south-west monsoon, which is expected to last until mid-September.

During this time, there would be less rain and a likelihood of haze but Madius said that isolated heavy rains and thunderstorms could still occur in the afternoons.

“A pre-dawn heavy rain with thunderstorms and strong winds caused by moving lines of thunderstorms from the sea towards the land (squall lines) can occasionally occur over the coastal areas of Selangor, Negri Sembi­lan, Malacca, western Johor, west Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Madius advised the public to avoid low-lying areas prone to flooding and keep updated with the latest weather information.

“MetMalaysia will continuously monitor the latest development of the La Nina, and the latest information on weather will be updated from time to time, and is available at, our hotline 1-300-221-638 and the myCuaca mobile apps,” he said.

Weatherman sees more rainfall in southern Sarawak
YU JI The Star 10 Jul 16;

KUCHING: Southern Sarawak could receive slightly higher than average rainfall this month and later this year, the Malaysian Meteorological Department forecasts.

In a long-range weather outlook for July to December, it said Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman and Sibu could receive between 210mm and 280mm of rain this month, which is usually the driest of the year.

Rainfall should return to normal patterns until November, when a slight spike is expected again: Kuching and Samarahan could receive 420-490mm, while Sri Aman and Betong could get up to 500mm.

In December, the MET says Kuching and Samarahan could receive up to 500mm of rainfall.

The outlook, released earlier this month, concludes that the El Nino phenomenon has passed, and the probability of La Nina developing is 75% but that only parts of Sabah might be affected in September.

For the week ahead in Sarawak, isolated thunderstorms should occur on most afternoons and some nights.

Tuesday could be a scorcher with no rain forecast. A maximum of 34 °C is expected, making it possibly the hottest day of the week.

Meanwhile, according to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), which monitors haze, the entire region is now classified at Level 1 given the start of the dry season.

“Hotspot counts in Sumatra and Kalimantan have remained low in the last few weeks, but are expected to increase as the dry season progresses. On June 28 and 29, ASMC detected three and nine hotspots respectively in central Sumatra,” it said.

“The prevailing south-west monsoon is expected to strengthen and persist over the next few months. Extended periods of dry weather can be expected, which could lead to elevated hotspot activities in fire-prone areas.”

According to satellite imagery Sunday, 11 hotspots were picked up in Sarawak and Sabah, and 10 in Kalimantan.

ASMC’s Level 2 classification is for areas with more than 150 hotspots for two consecutive days.

Level 3, the most severe with more than 250 hotspots, was declared in September last year in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

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Australia: Remote ecosystem suffers 7000 hectare dieback

Drew Creighton Sydney Morning Herald 9 Jul 16;

A 700 kilometre stretch of mangrove shoreline in the southern reaches of the Gulf of Carpentaria has died, sparking fears of deeper implications for the ecosystem.

The dieback encompasses about 7000 hectares of land and was the result of the El Nino conditions that affected the region during the warmer months.

James Cook University Professor Norm Duke said that was about the extent of their 'hard data' around the problem ranging from Kurumba in Queensland to the Roper River in the Northern Territory.

"We know from the remote sensing we have in the area that the dieback occurred late November, December last year," Professor Duke said.

"That was the end of an unusually long dry period, that is probably the major contributing factor, the change of climate such that there was virtually no wet season last year.

"It's been so severe in many locations that the whole of the shoreline fringe of mangrove has been killed or at least defoliated.

"The question is, how much if any will recover?"

That question may go unanswered if research funding to send scientists to the area is not forthcoming.

"Everything that's happening at the moment is happening without funding, everything is being done by people as individuals, this is not driven by government agenda or contract.

"At the end of the day, it's going to need a proper injection of funding to get to the bottom of what's going on and to properly check the repercussions."

Professor Duke said the remoteness of the the damaged area was a huge inhibitor to solving the problem and shining light on what should be 'international news'.

"If 700 kilometres of shoreline had been affected in such a way on the east coast of Australia, this would be international news, it's a major event in a habitats response to an adjustment in climate.

"There would be a lot of people or industry hoping they weren't to blame for it if it happened around a port area."

The death of 7000 hectares of mangrove trees is a large event, but it may be just the beginning of a chain of events caused by the rotting of the trees' roots.

"One of the mangroves roles is that they prevent erosion of mud banks and as they've died, a lot of the sediment is going to be released and make the water dirtier and that will kill seagrass and coral.

"If it involves seagrass then the implications extend much more broadly, you're talking about turtles and dugongs, but we don't know for sure.

"One report from indigenous rangers in the area on the Northern Territory side at least, there was lots of dead seagrass floating up that has never done that before - it needs to be checked.

"There could be other repercussions on other habitats that we have even less of an idea of."

The little help Professor Duke and his researcher have received has been pivotal in what he has been able to study.

"I've been talking to the rangers who are observing locally what's going on, they're telling me they've seen lots of dead leaves and the shellfish living under the trees are now dying or dead.

"All this is anecdotal at that level and we don't have data from scientific or industry types about what is happening there.

"We don't have any hard data, but the observations and the expectations are that there are effects."

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