Saturday, March 30, 2013

Federal plan aims to help wildlife adapt to climate change

Neela Banerjee in the Los Angeles Times: The Obama administration Tuesday announced a nationwide plan to help wildlife adapt to threats from climate change. Developed along with state and tribal authorities, the strategy seeks to preserve species as global warming alters their historical habitats and, in many cases, forces them to migrate across state and tribal borders.

Over the next five years, the plan establishes priorities for what will probably be a decades-long effort. One key proposal is to create wildlife "corridors" that would let animals and plants move to new habitats. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel M. Ashe said such routes could be made through easements and could total "much more than 1 million acres." The plan does not provide an estimate of the cost.

The effects of climate change are already apparent, the plan notes. Oyster larvae are struggling off the Northwest coast. In the Atlantic, fish are migrating north and into deeper waters. Geese and ducks do not fly as far south. In the West, bark beetles destroy pines because winters are not cold enough to kill infestations.

The plan, called the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, does not prioritize species to target, although "the polar bear is the poster child" of wildlife threatened by global warming, Ashe said....

A bald eagle, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Summer melt season is getting longer on the Antarctic Peninsula, new research shows

EurekAlert via the British Antarctic Survey: New research from the Antarctic Peninsula shows that the summer melt season has been getting longer over the last 60 years. Increased summer melting has been linked to the rapid break-up of ice shelves in the area and rising sea level.

The Antarctic Peninsula – a mountainous region extending northwards towards South America – is warming much faster than the rest of Antarctica. Temperatures have risen by up to 3 oC since the 1950s – three times more than the global average. This is a result of a strengthening of local westerly winds, causing warmer air from the sea to be pushed up and over the peninsula. In contrast to much of the rest of Antarctica, summer temperatures are high enough for snow to melt.

This summer melting may have important effects. Meltwater may enlarge cracks in floating ice shelves which can contribute to their retreat or collapse. As a result, the speed at which glaciers flow towards the sea will be increased. Also, melting and refreezing causes snow layers to become thinner and more dense, affecting the height of the snow surface above sea level. Scientists need to know this so they can interpret satellite data correctly.

Dr Nick Barrand, who carried out the research while working for the British Antarctic Survey, led an analysis of data from 30 weather stations on the peninsula. "We found a significant increase in the length of the melting season at most of the stations with the longest temperature records" he says. "At one station the average length of the melt season almost doubled between 1948 and 2011."

...Dr Barrand, who now works at the University of Birmingham, says, "We found that the model was very good at reproducing the pattern and timing of the melt, and changes in melting between years. This increases confidence in the use of climate models to predict future changes to snow and ice cover in the Antarctic Peninsula."...

Mountains on the Antarctic Peninsula, shot by NASA / Maria-Jose Vinas, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Climate change -- one more problem for Pakistan

Kieran Cooke in Climate Central via the Climate News Network: The Indus river, originating on the Tibetan Plateau and flowing for nearly 2,000 miles through the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir and finally down to the province of Sindh and out into the Arabian Sea, is key to life in Pakistan.

The majority of Pakistan’s 190 million people are involved in agriculture: the Indus, fed by glaciers high up in the Hindu Kush-Karakoram Himalaya mountain range, provides water for 90 percent of the country’s crops. Meanwhile hydro-power facilities based on the Indus generate around 50 percent of Pakistan’s total electricity.

Climate change is now threatening this vital waterway — and the future of millions in Pakistan. In recent weeks it has launched, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), its first ever national policy on climate change.

“Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries facing climate risks”, says Marc-Andre Franche, the UNDP’s Pakistan director. ”Mechanisms need to be devised for greener, more resilient options for growth and sustainable development… the climate change clock is ticking too fast and the time to act is here and now.”...

The Indus River, shot by Guilhem Vellut, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Ghana risks acute water shortage as mines devastate sources

Justice Lee Adoboe in Coastweek via Xinhua: The Ghanaian government is making efforts to find a lasting solution to the perennial water crisis brought about by increased human activities and commercial ventures, with its negative impact on both urban and local communities.

Water bodies, which used to serve as intakes for water treatment plants providing potable water for urban communities, are either dying off or have been polluted that it does not make economic or social sense to continue treating water from them for human consumption.

Activities such as farming, dumping of liquid and solid waste into rivers and streams, bush burning, illegal logging of timber and mining activities have been identified as the main threats to Ghana’s water security.

These activities result in seasonal water shortages, resulting in the reliance on unconventional sources and expensive processes of water production and distribution to meet growing water demands. Official records say the capital, Accra, and neighboring port city Tema reel under a 35 million-gallon water supply deficit....

Dust storm accelerates snowmelt in Idaho mountains A wind storm earlier this month covered a southwestern Idaho mountain range with dust from Oregon and Nevada and accelerated snowmelt due to the darker surface absorbing heat from the sun as opposed to being reflected by pristine white snow, scientists say.

The Idaho Statesman reports that experts said the March 6 storm with winds averaging 34 mph and gusts up to 57 mph put a dust layer on the northern Owyhee Mountains. Hydrologists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture said observations in the region found accelerated melting from March 10 to March 16, with the Owyhee River runoff peaking a week earlier than normal.

"Nobody on our staff has ever witnessed anything similar," said research hydrologist Adam Winstral. Snow surveyors with the Natural Resources Conservation Service said the dust reached as far east as the upper Mores Creek watershed near Idaho City in south-central Idaho.

"Because it's been so dry in the valleys in Oregon and Nevada, the wind picked the dust up and carried it here," said Ron Abramovich, a water supply specialist with the Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service. Abramovich said workers removed 3-inch core samples of snow that, when melted, left a half-inch plug of dust. "That's just one spot," Abramovich said. "When you spread this much dust over the watershed, you know there are impacts."....

Galena summit near Sun Valley, Idaho, shot by Stephen Marks, public domain

Friday, March 29, 2013

Stanford survey: Americans back preparation for extreme weather and sea-level rise

Stanford News Service: Images told the story: lower Manhattan in darkness, coastal communities washed away, cars floating in muck. Superstorm Sandy, a harbinger of future extreme weather intensified by climate change, caught the country off guard in October. Unprepared for the flooding and high winds that ensued, the East Coast suffered more than $70 billion in property damage and more than 100 deaths.

Will Americans prepare and invest now to minimize the impact of disasters such as Sandy, or deal with storms and rising sea levels after they occur? A new survey commissioned by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans want to prepare in order to minimize the damage likely to be caused by global warming-induced sea-level rise and storms.

A majority also wants people whose properties and businesses are located in hazard areas to foot the bill for this preparation, not the government. Eighty-two percent of the Americans surveyed said that people and organizations should prepare for the damage likely to be caused by sea-level rise and storms, rather than simply deal with the damage after it happens.

Among the most popular policy solutions identified in the survey are stronger building codes for new structures along the coast to minimize damage (favored by 62 percent) and preventing new buildings from being built near the coast (supported by 51 percent).

"People support preventive action," said survey director Jon Krosnick, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and professor of communication, "and few people believe these preparations will harm the economy or eliminate jobs. In fact, more people believe that preparation efforts will help the economy and create jobs around the U.S., in their state and in their town than think these efforts will harm the economy and result in fewer jobs in those areas. But people want coastal homeowners and businesses that locate in high-risk areas to pay for these measures."...

New York City blacked out by Hurricane Sandy, shot by David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Businesses urged to ‘SWiM’ with new sustainable water management concept

Pollution Solutions: Businesses are being urged to consider a fresh approach to managing their water usage and disposal through a new sustainable management concept - SWiM - which promises to underpin business resilience and generate cost savings.

An alliance of four expert water related companies has come together to launch SWiM - Sustainable Water Management for innovation, investment and infrastructure – a pioneering approach to guiding businesses or major projects towards a fully integrated and sustainable approach to managing water. A successful SWiM strategy could deliver a robust return on investment with an attractive payback period.

“It’s the logical approach, really,” explains David Schofield of Hydro Consultancy (the consultancy arm of Hydro International, UK), which is collaborating with specialist commercial water consultants Cadantis, rainwater harvesting specialists Aquality and drilling contractors Geotechnical to launch SWiM.

...“Some major business users consume vast amounts of high-quality potable water for everything from toilet flushing to cooling tower supply, irrigation to vehicle washing. Consequently, they pay a high-quality price for it, too. Meanwhile rainfall generally runs off the impermeable surfaces of their buildings, car parks and yards. Quite often it is held back in underground tanks before being discharged off-site sometimes to become someone else’s problem – in many instances the water company is supplying the same potable water they are consuming.

“SWiM can deliver a real commercial advantage to companies by helping them to integrate their water management in a genuinely sustainable manner. It will also help them to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility.”...

Water on a car roof, shot by Andrew Bossi, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

Meeting the computing challenges of next-generation climate models

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory News Center: ...As global climate models improve, they are generating ever larger amounts of data. For Michael Wehner, a climate scientist in the Computational Research Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who focuses on extreme weather—such as the intense hurricanes, “derecho” and atmospheric rivers (or “pineapple express”) like the one that California saw last December—computing challenges are key to his work.

“In order to simulate these kinds of storms, you really do need high-resolution climate models,” he said. “A model run can produce 100 terabytes of model output. The reason it’s so high is that in order to look at extreme weather you need high-frequency data. It’s a challenge to analyze all this data.”

For Wehner, a dataset that would take 411 days to crunch on a single-processor computer takes just 12 days on a Hopper, a massively parallel supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Berkeley Lab. Despite this advance, Wehner feels it should take only about an hour.

Berkeley Lab recently hosted an international workshop that brought together top climatologists, computer scientists and engineers from Japan and the United States to exchange ideas for the next generation of climate models as well as the hyper-performance computing environments that will be needed to process the data from those models. It was the 15th in a series of such workshops that have been taking place around the world since 1999. “The Japanese have big machines, as does the U.S.,” Wehner said. “They’re also leaders in high-performance computing for climate science.”

...Wehner offered an example of getting completely opposite results when running simulations with a lower-resolution climate model versus a high-resolution version of the same model. “My conclusion from a 100-kilometer model is that in the future we will see an increased number of hurricanes, but from this more realistic simulation from the 25-kilometer model, we draw the conclusion that the total number of hurricanes will decrease but the number of very intense storms will increase.”...

A computer simulation of hurricanes from category 1 through 5 over 18 years generated nearly 100 terabytes of data. Image from the LBL News Center website

Energy subsidies 'aggravate global warming': IMF

Peter Hannam in Business Day (Australia): The International Monetary Fund has urged nations to slash their $US1.9 trillion ($1.8 trillion) in annual energy subsidies because they increase inequality, boost greenhouse gas emissions and limit investment in the renewable energy industry.

While many nations use energy subsidies to shield consumers from rising prices, benefits tend to be grabbed by higher-income households. The outlays also sap funds available for bigger improvements to assist the wellbeing of the poor, such as health and education spending.

"Subsidies cause over-consumption of petroleum products, coal, and natural gas, and reduce incentives for investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy," the IMF said. "This over-consumption in turn aggravates global warming and worsens local pollution."

The removal of fossil-fuel subsidies would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 4.5 billion tonnes – or about eight times Australia's annual emissions. Sulphur dioxide pollution would also drop by 13 million tonnes if the subsidies ended.

The Fund listed the top three energy subsidisers as the United States ($US502 billion), China ($US279 billion), and Russia ($US116 billion). Petroleum and electricity subsidies accounted for three-quarters of the pre-tax subsidies, with natural gas accounting for most of the rest, and coal subsidies worth about $6 billion, the IMF said. The survey did not include subsidies received by renewable energy producers

"Subsidising clean energy is slightly more benevolent than subsidising a depletable, polluting resource," said Paul Burke, a research fellow at the Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy...

Construction site of the RWE coal power station near the Eemshaven, a port in the Dutch province of Groningen, shot by Wutsje, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Slovenia seeks better water management

Space Daily via UPI: Slovenia, which has some of most abundant fresh water supplies in Europe, should develop new strategies to preserve and protect them, ministers said this week. Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Foreign Minister Karel Erjavec, Agriculture and Environment Minister Dejan Zidan and European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik were among those making calls for better management of the country's water resources Monday at a Ljubljana conference.

Also present was climatologist Lucka Kajfez Bogataj, head of the Center for Agricultural Meteorology at the University of Ljubljana and a member of an international climate change panel that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

"The state does not invest enough in water management and the water profession, and its knowledge is fragmented, driven mainly by enthusiastic individuals," Kajfez Bogataj said. She asserted Slovenia basically has no water management strategy, even though it is one of its most strategic resources and should be viewed as a basic human right, the Slovenian daily Delo reported.

"We have no vision and experience shows that to get what we want, it becomes necessary to create state policy," Kajfez Bogataj said. "Where is the Slovenian water partnership, bringing together academic experts, policy makers and civil society?"...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

NOAA, US Census report finds increases in coastal population growth by 2020 likely, putting more people at risk of extreme weather

NOAA: If current population trends continue, the already crowded U.S. coast will see population grow from 123 million people to nearly 134 million people by 2020, putting more of the population at increased risk from extreme coastal storms like Sandy and Isaac, which severely damaged infrastructure and property last year.

...According to the report, which analyzed data from the 2010 census, 39 percent of the U.S. population is concentrated in counties directly on the shoreline -- less than 10 percent of the total U.S. land area excluding Alaska, and that 52 percent of the total population lives in counties that drain to coastal watersheds, less than 20 percent of U.S. land area, excluding Alaska. A coastal watershed is an area in which water, sediments, and dissolved material drain to a common coastal outlet, like a bay or the ocean.

The National Coastal Population Report: Populations Trends from 1970 to 2020, issued in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, updates and expands a 2004 report that detailed and projected coastal population trends from 1980 to 2008.

“People who live near the shore, and managers of these coastal communities, should be aware of how this population growth may affect their coastal areas over time,” said Holly Bamford, Ph.D., assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service. “As more people move to the coast, county managers will see a dual challenge -- protecting a growing population from coastal hazards, as well as protecting coastal ecosystems from a growing population.”

This report offers coastal managers and other users, for the first time, two perspectives on population growth along the U.S. coast -- the traditional perspective that looks at status and trends throughout counties that drain to coastal watersheds, called Coastal Watershed Counties, and a newer focus that focuses only on those counties that directly border the coast, including the Great Lakes....

Infographic from NOAA

Climate change a 'threat multiplier' for Australia's military

ABC News (Australia): A new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) says the military is not doing enough planning to cope with the problem of climate change. The study, titled Heavy Weather, found climate change was not being considered by the Defence Department in its national and regional strategic scoping, despite the potential regional instability caused by rising sea levels, migration pressures, and the spread of infectious diseases.

ASPI deputy director Antony Bergin says the ADF has already been stretched by a spate of weather-related domestic disasters such as bushfires and floods, and should be factoring in how it will deal with simultaneous extreme weather events at home and in the region.

"The military are very used to responding to a whole range of factors that impact on military operations, whether it be population, whether it be technology, whether it be economics," he said. "This report argues that climate change is simply another factor. Every Christmas now we see the military deployed to floods and bushfires in Australia.

 "The ADF of course have been heavily involved in deploying to regional disasters, but one of the points that the report makes is that Defence will need to factor in concurrent disasters. While we've been pretty good at dealing with offshore disasters without anything happening on the home front, I think we're now going to see the ADF really stretched in dealing with extreme weather events in the region and at home."...

Bioscience should underpin African agriculture, meeting hears

Mekonnen Teshome in Bioscience projects including ones that turn tannery waste into manure can improve crop productivity and food security, and boost agricultural resilience to climate change-related impacts in East Africa, according to scientists.

Agricultural and biosciences scientists who met at the 1st Bio-Innovate Regional Scientific Research Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month (25-27 February), say that using bioscience in East Africa could bring about socioeconomic transformation.

For instance, in Uganda, tannery and slaughter wastes are being turned into manure for crop production and clean water. Other innovations include the production of drought-resistant seed varieties that are suitable to specific agriecological areas.

The Bio-resources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development (Bio-Innovate) Program was established in 2010 to support multidisciplinary biosciences and product-based innovation activities in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It currently supports nine biosciences innovation and policy consortium projects, bringin

Seyoum Leta, Bio-Innovate programme manager and an environmental biotechnology expert, says that modern biosciences must be harnessed to improve crop productivity. He tells SciDev.Net that Bio-Innovate is implementing programmes in four areas aimed at:  addressing climate change adaptability; food and nutrition security; energy production from industrial waste; and securing freshwater resources....

A farm compound in Ethiopia, shot by A. Davey, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Short of water, Peru's engineers 'make our own'

Terra Daily via AFP: The message emblazoned on a billboard outside the Peruvian capital sounds almost too good to be true: drinkable water for anyone who wants some in this arid village. Even more intriguingly, the fresh, pure water on offer along a busy road in this dusty town some 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Lima, has been extracted, as if by magic, from the humid air.

Within the enormous, raised, double-paneled billboard inviting all takers is concealed a tube, wires and mechanical equipment that draws the water from the air and purifies it. Inhabitants from far and wide who flock here toting liter bottles and buckets say this purified water is a wonderful alternative to the stagnant well water that used to be the only water source for many in this town.

...The United Nations on Friday marked its World Water Day initiative which aims to cut water-borne diseases like cholera, dysentery and diarrhea around the world. It is a perennial problem in Lima and the surrounding area, where about one million of the more than eight million people lack reliably clean water.

Faced with the ongoing water shortage, some innovators at Peru's University for Engineering and Technology hit upon the novel idea. "If the problem is water, we'll make some," said Alejandro Aponte, one of the people who worked on the project, which was both an engineering feat and a marketing challenge. Enough water is sucked from the air by this huge contraption located on the edge of a busy highway in Peru to fill a 100-liter tank each day.

The system required a location where the humidity was at least 30 percent -- not a problem in Lima, where the dewpoint sometimes hits an unbearably sticky 98 percent, despite the barren landscape where there is very little evident vegetation and not very much actual rainfall...

Lima, shot by Michael Reeve in 2001, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Swiss Re's sigma on natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2012 reports USD 77 billion in insured losses and economic losses of USD 186 billion

A press release from my former employer, Swiss Re:... Swiss Re's latest sigma study reveals that natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2012 caused economic losses of USD 186 billion with approximately 14 000 lives lost. Large scale weather events in the US pushed the total insured claims for the year to USD 77 billion, which is the third most expensive year on record. This amount is still significantly lower than 2011, when record earthquakes and flooding in Asia Pacific caused historic insured losses of over USD 126 billion, the highest ever recorded.

2012 was dominated by large, weather-related losses in the US. Nine of the ten most expensive insured loss events happened in the US in 2012.[1] The high insurance penetration in North America meant that USD 65 billion, over half of the USD 119 billion in economic losses in the region, were covered by insurance.

Kurt Karl, Swiss Re's Chief Economist, says: "The severe weather-related events in the US provided a reminder of the value of insurance and the vital role it plays in helping individuals, communities and businesses to recover from the devastating effects of catastrophes. However, large parts of the globe that are prone to weather extremes were not able to rely on financial relief due to low insurance penetration."

Hurricane Sandy was the most expensive ev

ent for the year both in terms of economic and insured losses. The Hurricane caused an estimated total of USD 70 billion in economic losses, making it the second most damaging hurricane on record after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Insured losses were approximately USD 35 billion, out of which USD 20 to 25 billion were covered by the private insurance market....

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Loss of wild pollinators would hit crops

Claudia Mazzeo in The loss of wild pollinators from agricultural landscapes could threaten global crop yields, a study has found.  Led by Lucas Garibaldi, an assistant professor at the National University of Río Negro in Argentina, a team of researchers compared fields containing many wild pollinators — mostly insects — with those containing few. They studied 41 crop systems across all continents except Antarctica to understand how the loss of wild pollinators impacts crop production.

They found that the more wild pollinators a field contained, the more fruit it produced. From this, the researchers deduce that the loss of natural pollinators could reduce crop yields and hit long-term food security.

....Study co-author Alexandra-Maria Klein, professor of ecosystem functions at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany, said in a press release: "Intensified agriculture separates crop production and biodiversity. Our study shows that this separation can have negative consequences for pollination services … We urgently need more research that informs but also involves the global and wider society to explore novel management designs for agricultural landscapes."

The researchers also examined whether adding honeybees to fields can compensate for the lack of wild pollinators and maximise agricultural production. They found that wild pollinators pollinated crops more effectively, with an increase in visits resulting in twice as much fruit being produced compared with a similar rise in honeybee visits....

Bumblebee on goldenrod, shot by Beatriz Moisset, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

Climate models are not good enough

AlphaGalileo via the University of Gothenburg: Only a few climate models were able to reproduce the observed changes in extreme precipitation in China over the last 50 years. This is the finding of a doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Climate models are the only means to predict future changes in climate and weather.

“It is therefore extremely important that we investigate global climate models’ own performances in simulating extremes with respect to observations, in order to improve our opportunities to predict future weather changes,” says Tinghai Ou from the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Earth Sciences.

Tinghai has analysed the model simulated extreme precipitation in China over the last 50 years. “The results show that climate models give a poor reflection of the actual changes in extreme precipitation events that took place in China between 1961 and 2000,” he says. “Only half of the 21 analysed climate models analysed were able to reproduce the changes in some regions of China. Few models can well reproduce the nationwide change.”

China is often affected by extreme climate events. Such as, the flooding of 1998 in southern and north-eastern China caused billions of dollars worth of financial losses, and killed more than 3,000 people. And the drought of 2010-11 in southern China affected 35 million people and also caused billions of dollars worth of financial losses.

“Our research findings show that extreme precipitation events have increased in most areas of China since 1961, while the number of dry days – days on which there is less than one millimetre of precipitation – has increase in eastern China but decreased in the western China.”

Cold surges in south-eastern China often cause severe snow, leading to significant devastation. Snow, ice and storms in January and February 2008 resulted in hundreds of deaths. Studies show that the occurrence of cold surges in southeast China significantly decreased from 1961 to 1980, but the levels have remained stable since 1980 despite global warming...

A Shanghai cyclist in the rain, shot by Robert S. Donovan, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr,  under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Too much choice leads to riskier decisions, new study finds

University of Warwick News & Events: The more choices people have, the riskier the decisions they make, according to a new study which sheds light on how we behave when faced with large amounts of information. Researchers at the University of Warwick and the University of Lugano set up a gambling game in which they analysed how decision-making is affected when people are faced with a large number of potential gambles.

They found that a bias in the way people gather information leads them to take more risks when they choose a gamble from a large set of options, a phenomenon which researchers have labelled ‘search-amplified risk’. This means that, when faced with a large number of choices - each having outcomes associated with different probabilities of occurring - people are more likely to overestimate the probabilities of some of the rarest events.

The study, published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, found that with large choice sets, people took riskier gambles based on a flawed perception that there was a higher probability of ‘winning big’ – but in reality they more often went away empty-handed.

Dr Thomas Hills of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick said: “It’s not that people just give up and make random decis

“People search more when they have many choices, increasing the likelihood that they will encounter rare, risky events. The problem is that they don’t sample any given choice enough to understand its underlying probabilities. This leaves the rare events sticking out like sore thumbs. As a consequence, people choose these riskier gambles more often.”...

ions when faced with a large number of options. “They are making rational decisions, but these decisions are based on faulty information gathering. The problem is with the information search strategies people use when faced with a large number of options...."....

Photo by Ralf Roletschek - Fahrradtechnik und Fotografie, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

UK beaches suffer drop in water quality following washout 2012

Jessica Aldred in the Guardian (UK): The number of UK beaches failing to meet minimum standards for water quality and pollution has risen after one of the wettest summers on record in 2012.

The Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) annual Good Beach Guide found that 42 beaches failed to meet the minimum European standards for bathing water quality – 17 more than in last year's guide. It recommended only 403 of the 754 bathing beaches tested in 2012 as having excellent water quality – 113 less than last year.

Months of rain and flooding in many parts of the UK last year washed pollution from towns and cities, farms and sewers into the sea. Sewage and animal waste contains bacteria and viruses that can result in ear, nose or throat infections, and gastroenteritis....

Southsea beach, England, from Snapshots Of The Past, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Not a retraction, but embarrassment nonetheless

After sarcastically shooting my mouth off in the previous article about the border dispute between Georgia and Tennessee, I learn that the story has more to it, and that the claims aren't as ridiculous as they seemed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Georgia state senators push litigation in Tennessee border dispute

Jeff Gill in the Gainesville Times examines the brilliant new way of addressing water and climate issues – an asinine legal battle against a neighboring state that has water. It’s even better when their justification involve a two-century-old survey: The Georgia Senate has approved a resolution seeking to resolve a longstanding border dispute with Tennessee and shore up Georgia’s water supply in the process.

Today’s vote was 48-2, with an amendment added, directing the attorney general to start litigation if no agreement is reached with Tennessee. In essence, the legislative measure would allow Tennessee to keep 66 square miles and Georgia to take in 1 1/2 acres and give access to the Tennessee River.

“The Tennessee Valley Authority has identified the Tennessee River as a likely source of water for North Georgia,” said Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth. ”Yet the State of Tennessee has used mismarked boundary lines to block our access to this important waterway.”

Georgia’s streams and creeks “feed the Tennessee River,” Shafer said. “In fact, over 6 percent of the water of the Tennessee River originates in Georgia.” House Resolution 4 now returns to the House for agreement on amendments made by the Senate.

The dispute stems from an 1818 survey that improperly placed the Georgia-Tennessee boundary one mile south of the mutually agreed-upon border at the 35th parallel….

A beautiful example of Finley's important 1827 map of Tennessee. Depicts the state with moderate detail in Finley's classic minimalist style. Shows river ways, roads, canals, and some topographical features. Offers color coding at the county level. Title and scale in upper left quadrant. Finley's map of Tennessee is particularly interesting and important due to its portrayal of the rapidly changing American Indian situation in the south eastern part of the state. In 1827 a substantial part of southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia was a confined territory assigned to the Lower Creek and Cherokee nations. Finley's map details the borders of this country as defined by the Tennessee and Hiwasssee Rivers. Also notes American Indian villages and missionary stations, including the Brainerd Mission, within and adjacent to the Cherokee territory. Just four years after this map was made the Creek and Cherokee would forcibly relocated westward in the infamous Trail of Tears. Engraved by Young and Delleker for the 1827 edition of Anthony Finley's General Atlas .

Superfast model brain to predict UK flooding during heavy rain

University of Exeter (UK): Heavy rain has once again resulted in widespread flooding across the country. With climate change likely to cause further severe weather events in the coming years, methods of quickly predicting flooding will become increasingly important.

A team of engineers and scientists from the University of Exeter has developed a model, 1000 times faster than existing flood prediction systems, which can rapidly predict when and where flooding will occur. The model uses artificial intelligence to ‘learn’, in the same way that biological neural networks in the human brain process data.

Designed for urban areas, the system can provide instant updates as bad weather conditions unfold. The model uses information about the drainage and sewage systems to predict the volume and flow of flood water in real time. Although not yet in general use, tests show a good ability to predict flooding with field trials and it is hoped that the model will soon be rolled out nationwide.

Professor Dragan Savić, who headed the development of the new model at the University of Exeter said: “Our model can be trained to use data from rainfall events to distinguish between urban areas that suffer from flooding and those that don’t. Once it has learnt, it can then be used to classify new rainfall events into those likely to cause flooding and those that do not pose a threat.”

The model was shown to be of great potential value for the water industry in a report commissioned by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR). The report produced by HR Wallingford, an independent research and consultancy organisation, tested the model against recorded rainfall events in London, Dorchester and Portsmouth and found that the model accurately predicted the actual outcomes….

A flooded road near Stratton, Dorchester, shot by Nigel Mykura, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

China’s electricity industry faces severe water shortages

Todd Woody in Quartz: For those keeping track of China’s looming environmental apocalypse, here’s another thing to worry about: The nation’s coal-fired power plants face severe water shortages that could disrupt their operations—and the economy—in the years ahead.

Coal supplies nearly 80% of China’s electricity and has fueled the country’s economic boom. But thermal power plants need water to generate steam and cool their operations. Yet 85% of  China’s generating capacity is located in “water-stressed” regions, according to a report released today by market research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And 60% of China’s electricity is produced in northern China, which has just 20% of the country’s freshwater supplies. The map above shows how China’s coal-fired generating capacity is concentrated in regions where water is scarce.

It gets worse for China’s big five state-owned utilities. Two of them, Huaneng and Datang, have 84% of their generating capacity tied up in areas that are moderately to severely water stressed. Even the utility with the least exposure to water shortages, Guodian, faces water-related risks to 65% of its assets, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg estimates that Chinese utilities will consume 124 billion cubic meters of water annually by 2030, up from 102 billion cubic meters in 2010.

“The era of water abundance in China is over, and competition for resource access between business, agriculture, and urban centers is starting to bite,” said Maxime Serrano Bardisa, one of the report’s authors, in a statement….

China's Three Gorges Dam seen from space, via NASA in 2011

Gender relations are changing along with climate

IRIN: A changing climate will inevitably have an impact on gender relations in rural communities, but not enough is being done to boost the resilience of women - already disadvantaged by traditions of inequality.

The UN International Strategy for International Risk reduction (UNISDR), has been arguing for  mainstreaming gender in disaster risk reduction programmes for over a decade. "Disasters don’t discriminate, but people do," the agency noted. "The potential contributions that women can offer to the disaster risk reduction [DRR] imperative around the world are often overlooked and female leadership in building community resilience to disasters is frequently disregarded."

The need for gender awareness in programming became apparent after the Asian Tsunami in 2004, in which more women than men were killed. Research by Oxfam in parts of Indonesia and India after the wave struck found that women were more vulnerable partly because they were more likely to be unable to swim, and many were in harm's way because they were standing on the shore waiting for the men to bring in the fish they would process and sell.

The development agency CARE, along with Kulima Integrated Development Solutions, a South Africa-based consultancy, is trying to develop a methodology to conduct gender-sensitive vulnerability analysis. “Most NGOs have longstanding gender commitments, and are beginning to incorporate them in their climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction,” says Kulima’s Katharine Vincent, who is working on the methodology using Mozambique as their testing ground… 

A girl running along the road in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, shot by Damien Halleux Radermecker, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Water-sparing rice farming proves viable in Kenya

Isaiah Esipisu in AlertNet: Faced with pressure on supplies of irrigation water due to climate shifts and an increasing population, rice farmers in four Kenyan irrigation schemes have adopted a new crop management system that allows them to grow their crops without flooding their paddies throughout the season.

The Kenyan government, through the Mwea Irrigation Agricultural Development Centre (MIAD), has borrowed a technique from India known as the system of rice intensification. It has proved to be an effective way of growing rice with limited water in this east African country. The system has been widely practised for at least 10 years in Asian countries, where it has been shown to produce greater yields. But the MIAD initiative marks its introduction to Kenya.

Traditionally, Kenyan rice farmers have grown their crop in paddies kept under water from the time of planting to maturity. However, the new system moves them away from the old practice of flooding to a new approach of growing the crop in paddies that are intermittently dry, and planting the seedlings in lines and more widely spaced apart.

“It was not easy to change farmers from what they have always known (as) the correct practice to a completely new one that they have never seen anywhere else,” said Raphael Wanjogu, the principal research officer at MIAD….

Brown rice, public domain 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Understanding the continuous corn yield penalty

Seed Daily via SPX: As escalating corn prices have encouraged many farmers to switch to growing corn continuously, they wonder why they have been seeing unusually high yield reductions over the past several years. The University of Illinois conducted a six-year study that identified three key factors affecting yield in continuous corn (CC) systems.

"Prior to this study, the most common management recommendations for continuous corn production were to apply an additional 45 pounds of nitrogen per acre and reserve your best crop land for it," said U of I soil scientist and lead author Laura Gentry. "Very little was known about the agents or mechanisms causing reduced yields in continuous corn systems."

Although corn can be cropped continuously, it is widely accepted that there is a yield reduction compared to corn rotated with soybean (CS). This difference is referred to as the continuous corn yield penalty (CCYP), which is generally in the range of 20 to 30 bushels per acre. The 2012 growing season marked the third consecutive year of unusually high CCYP values in the U.S. Midwest, often with corn yields that were 30 to 50 bushels per acre less than corn following soybean.

…The researchers found that the best predictor of the CCYP was unfertilized CC yield. In years when unfertilized CC yields were relatively high, the yield penalty was low, and vice versa. Unfertilized CC yield is an indicator of how much N the soil is supplying to the corn crop, either from residual fertilizer N or from decomposition of previous crop residues and other organic matter (N mineralization)….

An Ohio corn field, shot by Graylight, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license 

Focus cash on research infrastructure

David Dickson in Few would name Ireland as one of the world's largest computer software exporters. Yet it has been this since the late 1990s, partly as a result of investing a significant slice of the development assistance it receives from the EC (European Commission) in the infrastructure required to become a knowledge economy.

This assistance has come through the 'structural funds' provided to the poorer parts of the EU (European Union). Countries such as Greece have invested most of the money received this way in more conventional construction projects, for example roads and airports. In contrast, Ireland has used much of it to build such things as research facilities and high-speed data networks.

There is no reason why developing nations, particularly in Africa, should not replicate Ireland's experience. Appropriate investment in research and innovation infrastructure can help them jump from a pre-industrial to a post-industrial society.

But to achieve this, two things must happen. National governments must genuinely prioritise innovation support. And development agencies must accept that investment in research and innovation infrastructure is as important as funding more traditional infrastructure projects, such as energy and transport systems….

Rock climbing in Cologne, shot by Elke Wetzig (Elya), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Amplified greenhouse effect shifts north's growing seasons

NASA: Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of land surface and newly improved satellite data sets.

An international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.

"Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more," said Ranga Myneni of Boston University's Department of Earth and Environment. "In the north's Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems."

…Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years. Satellite data in this visualization are from the AVHRR and MODIS instruments, which contribute to a vegetation index that allows researchers to track changes in plant growth over large areas.

Myneni and colleagues used satellite data to quantify vegetation changes at different latitudes from 1982 to 2011. Data used in this study came from NOAA's Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometers (AVHRR) onboard a series of polar-orbiting satellites and NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on the Terra and Aqua satellites.

As a result of enhanced warming and a longer growing season, large patches of vigorously productive vegetation now span a third of the northern landscape, or more than 3.5 million square miles (9 million square kilometers). That is an area about equal to the contiguous United States. This landscape resembles what was found 250 to 430 miles (400 to 700 kilometers) to the south in 1982. "It's like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years," said co-author Compton Tucker of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md…..

Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years. Satellite data in this visualization are from the AVHRR and MODIS instruments, which contribute to a vegetation index that allows researchers to track changes in plant growth over large areas. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Haitian farmers call for 'food sovereignty'

Seed Daily via AFP: Hundreds of small farmers have converged on the central Haitian city of Hinche to demand more space to grow their own crops in a country that imports more than half of its food.

"Yes to land reform. Yes to environmentally-friendly agriculture," chanted the 300-some farmers gathered for the 40th anniversary of the Papaye Peasant Movement, a group aiming to promote "food sovereignty for the people. Forty years of struggle for social change. We want true land reform."

The high point of the summit is a march expected to see 40,000 farmers protest to air their grievances Friday. MPP leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste strongly opposed the introduction of hybrid and genetically modified seeds from American giant Monsanto after the devastating 2010 earthquake that leveled much of Haiti.

"Farmers need to get the same consideration as all other Haitians. They must be respected and included in national decisions," he said. "We have to show that we are a force in Haiti."…

A cabbage field in Haiti, USAID photo

Ocean plankton sponge up nearly twice the carbon currently assumed

Space Daily via SPX: Models of carbon dioxide in the world's oceans need to be revised, according to new work by UC Irvine and other scientists published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience. Trillions of plankton near the surface of warm waters are far more carbon-rich than has long been thought, they found.

Global marine temperature fluctuations could mean that tiny Prochlorococcus and other microbes digest double the carbon previously calculated. Carbon dioxide is the leading driver of disruptive climate change.

In making their findings, the researchers have upended a decades-old core principle of marine science known as the Redfield ratio, named for famed oceanographer Alfred Redfield. He concluded in 1934 that from the top of the world's oceans to their cool, dark depths, both plankton and the materials they excrete contain the same ratio (106:16:1) of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous.

…"The Redfield concept remains a central tenet in ocean biology and chemistry. However, we clearly show that the nutrient content ratio in plankton is not constant and thus reject this longstanding central theory for ocean science," said lead author Adam Martiny, associate professor of Earth system science and ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Irvine. "Instead, we show that plankton follow a strong latitudinal pattern."

…Martiny noted that since Redfield first announced his findings, "there have been people over time putting out a flag, saying, 'Hey, wait a minute.'" But for the most part, Redfield's ratio of constant elements is a staple of textbooks and research. In recent years, Martiny said, "a couple of models have suggested otherwise, but they were purely models. This is really the first time it's been shown with observation. That's why it's so important."…

Synechococcus PCC 7002 in bright field microscopy. Imaging was performed with the Olympus BX61 microscope and a UPlanSApo 100× NA 1.40 oil immersion objective (Olympus). Pictures were acquired at room temperature in water with a camera (SPOT; Diagnostic Instruments, Inc.) using MetaMorph software (MDS Analytical Technologies). Shot by Masur, public domain

Pakistan revamps climate study centre

Faisal Raza Khan in With extra funding and empowering legislation Pakistan's autonomous Global Climate Change Impact Centre (GCCIC) is set to take on a regional and international role in climate research. Legislation passed this month (6 March) is expected to transform the GCCIC into a centre capable of providing data for decision making and formulating policy in areas such as agriculture, creating infrastructure, improving the social sectors and in disaster preparedness.

Since its formation in 2002, the GCCIC has been plagued by limited budgets and administrative problems arising from constitutional amendments to devolve the functioning of the environment ministry to the provinces.

Arshad M. Khan, executive director GCCIC, told SciDev.Net that the institute is due to get a 20-30 per cent hike to the existing 55 million Pakistani rupees (US$ 553,000) budget that will help it to set up regional centres and acquire equipment for longer term scientific predictions on climate.

"We are committed to excellence in theoretical and experimental research, including modelling and simulation techniques to assess climate change phenomena and impacts for effective implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures," Khan said…

Invasive species – understanding the threat before it’s too late

Northeastern University press release: Catching rides on cargo ships and fishing boats, many invasive species are now covering our shorelines and compromising the existence of our native marine life. In a study published in Ecology Letters, Northeastern University Prof. David Kimbro and his team examine what factors allow some invasive species to survive in their new environments and others to fail.

Once invasive species arrive in their new location, they begin multiplying, and in some cases, overpowering the local marine life. This can have a very strong impact on our ecosystems and businesses, such as fisheries.

Understanding what makes these invaders thrive or fail in their new environments is not only key to preventing the collapse of local marine life, but also figuring out ways to make some invaders work to benefit their new locations. “Not all invasive species are bad. In fact, we need some of them to succeed. But invasions are certainly a double-edged sword because many invasions cost us a lot in terms of money and natural heritage.”

…“For the past 15 years, marine scientists have conducted a lot of experiments that have taught us a lot about specific invasions in many different places. But unlike terrestrial scientists, no one had pieced all of these unique stories together to see if they collectively tell us a general and useful message. And until we see cattle swimming and kudzu growing in the ocean, we can’t just recycle the messages from land studies and use them to manage our coastal systems.”…

A cotton-tailed rabbit surrounded by garlic mustard, mugwort (? and burdock). None of these invasive species are food for this animal. Shot by Sue Sweeney, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Friday, March 22, 2013

Road traffic pollution as serious as passive smoke in the development of childhood asthma

Science Daily: New research conducted in 10 European cities has estimated that 14% of chronic childhood asthma is due to exposure to traffic pollution near busy roads. The results are comparable to the burden associated with passive smoking: the World Health Organization estimates that between 4% and 18% of asthma cases in children are linked to passive smoking.

The findings, published online today (22 March 2013) ahead of print in the European Respiratory Journal, come as the European Commission has declared 2013 the 'Year of Air', which highlights the importance of clean air for all and focuses on actions to improve air quality across the EU.

Until now, traffic pollution was assumed to only trigger asthma symptoms and burden estimations did not account for chronic asthma caused by the specific range of toxicants that are found near heavily used roads along which many Europeans live.

The researchers used a method known as population-attributable fractions to assess the impact of near-road traffic pollution. This calculates the proportional reduction in disease or death that would occur if exposure to a risk factor were reduced to a lower level.

The new research used data from existing epidemiological studies which found that children exposed to higher levels of near-road traffic-related pollution also had higher rates of asthma, even when taking into account a range of other relevant factors such as passive smoking or socioeconomic factors.

The researchers aimed to take these findings further and estimate how many asthma cases could be avoided if exposure was removed….

A smoggy day in Brussels, shot by Belfius, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Global nitrogen availability consistent for past 500 years, linked to carbon levels

Seed Daily via SPX: A Kansas State University research team has found that despite humans increasing nitrogen production through industrialization, nitrogen availability in many ecosystems has remained steady for the past 500 years. Their work appears in the journal Nature.

"People have been really interested in nitrogen in current times because it's a major pollutant," said Kendra McLauchlan, assistant professor of geography and director of the university's Paleoenvironmental Laboratory. "Humans are producing a lot more nitrogen than in the past for use as crop fertilizer, and there is concern because excess levels can cause damage. The mystery, though, is whether the biosphere is able to soak up this extra nitrogen and what that means for the future."

Nitrogen is a key component of the ecosystem and the largest regulator of plant growth. It determines how much food, fuel and fiber the land can produce. It also determines how much carbon dioxide plants remove from the atmosphere, and it interacts with several components of the climate system. Excessive amounts of nitrogen in ecosystems contribute to global warming and impairment of downstream ecosystems.

McLauchlan worked with Joseph Craine, research assistant professor in biology; Joseph Williams, postdoctoral research associate; and Elizabeth Jeffers, postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford. The team published their findings, "Changes in global nitrogen cycling during the Holocene epoch," in the current issue of Nature….

Electron shell diagram by Pumbaa (original work by Greg Robson), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales license

Snow forecast for much of Britain as onset of spring fails to shift bad weather

The Guardian (UK): There will be no let-up in the bad weather over the weekend, with snow across much of Britain and flooding expected in the south-west. On Thursday night emergency services responded to a surge in weather-related call-outs as heavy rainfall continued to blight communities.

The Environment Agency said it was monitoring river levels and was expecting to issue flood alerts and possibly more serious flood warnings for the south-west.

Cornwall council set up a designated control room to handle calls. A spokesman said the county's fire and rescue service received approximately 50 calls between 6pm and 9pm, with around 70 firefighters dealing with incidents across Cornwall.

"The main problem still appears to be surface water flooding which is continuing to affect a number of areas across Cornwall. There are reports of about eight properties flooded so far, although there are concerns at the rising water levels in Newlyn where the water is edging towards some commercial properties."…

From a 2009 snowfall in the UK, shot by Lars Plougmann, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

On-demand water helps communities adapt to climate change

Brian English in Care2: …Global Communities has introduced these impoverished farmers to one of the most advanced drip irrigation systems on the market. Developed in Israel, and recently brought to Honduras by John Deere, it is capable of distributing water under low pressure and economizing it with a precision never achieved before. A very small piece of engineering inside the half-inch diameter plastic tubing – which looks like a miniature maze – controls the flow of water exiting each hole and provides a consistent drip rate. The rate of water can be regulated by a set of valves according to what the different crops need, and sections of the network can be turned on and off.

The impact of this irrigation system, and seven other reservoirs constructed by Global Communities, has been nothing short of a green revolution for Daniel and almost 1,000 others directly benefiting from these systems. Compared to youth-led revolutions occurring in many countries today, this revolution is being led by the older generations, those who stayed in this unforgiving land while their children have migrated north, many to the United States to work in agriculture.

This green revolution is also keeping young adults home instead of migrating north. Daniel’s four sons stood nearby as we toured their field. They wore hooded tops with headphones dangling from their ears, watching us closely with a palpable urge to be recognized for their role in creating this bounty. If these boys choose to leave, there is reason for their father to be concerned: the journey north has become fraught with the risks of human trafficking as gangs and drug cartels from Tegucigalpa through to the US-Mexico border have expanded….

China coastal waters increasingly polluted

Terra Daily via AFP: China's coastal waters are suffering "acute" pollution, with the size of the worst affected areas soaring by more than 50 percent last year, an official body said. The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said 68,000 square kilometres (26,300 square miles) of sea had the worst official pollution rating in 2012, up 24,000 square kilometres on 2011.

Under this classification the waters are deemed unsuitable for swimming, fish-farming and port use and not fit for some industrial purposes. The findings highlight the country's rising environmental problems, which are often a by-product of its booming economy and have led to public anger and protests.

"The pollution of coastal waters and damage to the eco-system... remained acute," the SOA said in a statement on the release of its annual report Wednesday….