Friday, January 23, 2009

Mumbai local body to use GIS to detect underground water leakages

MUMBAI, India: The first pilot project by Brihan Mumbai Mahanagarpalika (BMC), the city’s civic body, to detect underground leakages in pipelines will begin in coming few days. GIS is going to be one of the components of the techniques being applied, along with sound sensors and ground penetration radars (GPRs).

Detection of leakages is part of BMC's plan to conduct a water audit aimed at studying the existing infrastructure for water supply and gauge the extent of wastage. The pilot project will be implemented in areas between Goregaon and Dahisar. "After we carry out GIS mapping, we will know the exact location of utilities following which the details will be available,'' said a senior civic official. 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Halt all carbon emissions by 2050: Worldwatch

To avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, world carbon emissions will have to drop to near zero by 2050 and "go negative" after that, the Worldwatch Institute reported on Tuesday.

This is a deeper cut than called for by most climate experts and policymakers, including President-elect Barack Obama, who favors an 80 percent drop in U.S. carbon emissions by mid-century.

Limiting carbon emissions aims to keep global mean temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) over what it was before the Industrial Revolution -- but one Worldwatch author said even this is too dangerous.

"Global warming needs to be reduced from peak levels to 1 degree (Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) as fast as possible," co-author William Hare said at a briefing on the "State of the World 2009" report. "At this level you can see some of the risks fade into the background."

Global mean temperature has already risen 1.4 degrees F (0.8 C) since 1850, so drastic cuts in emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide are needed, according to Hare, now working at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Hare said that global greenhouse gas emissions would need to hit their peak by 2020 and drop 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and keep dropping after that. He said carbon dioxide emissions would have to "go negative," with more being absorbed than emitted, in the second half of this century.

The burden of cutting greenhouse emissions should fall more heavily on rich countries than poor ones, Hare said, with industrialized nations reducing emissions by 90 percent by 2050, allowing developing nations to let their economies grow and develop new technologies that will ultimately reduce climate-warming gases.


Even with these dramatic changes, the world may face an additional rise of nearly 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C) because the impact of past greenhouse emissions hasn't yet been felt on surface temperatures, the report said.

This year could be pivotal in the movement against climate change, said co-author Robert Engelman, with "scientists more certain and concerned, the public more engaged than ever before, an incoming U.S. president bringing to the White House for the first time a solid commitment to cap and then shrink this country's massive injections of greenhouse gases ... into the atmosphere."

Engelman also noted this year's deadline for a global agreement to craft a successor pact to the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol. This is set to happen in December at a meeting in Copenhagen.

Engelman said the Copenhagen meeting could put in place a new "financial architecture" that discourages greenhouse emissions and rewards actions that take these emissions out of the atmosphere.

This could take the form of a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax, he said, and could also include "the best terms of trade, investment and credit" for countries that make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

"However this turns out, we still have some precious time and a clear shot at safely managing human-induced climate change," Engelman said. "What's at stake is not just nature as we've always known it, but quite possibly the survival of our civilization. It's going to be a really interesting year."

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Malaysia uses satellite to fight illegal logging: report

Malaysia is zooming in on forests with a satellite in order to fight illegal logging which its government says is harming the major timber exporting country, a report said. Darus Ahmad, deputy director-general with the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency, said the "eye in the sky" programme was put in place in October. "There is always criticisms that our forests are diminishing," he was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper. Darus said that using satellite images the authorities can establish a national forest inventory of the country's total area of forest cover.

They can then check whether logging in a particular area is legal or not, he said, adding that the facility was currently available in the western peninsular part of Malaysia only.

Darus also said the system can be used to prevent air pollution by detecting forest fires and illegal land clearing. In the 1990s alone, Malaysia lost more than 13 percent of its forests, with much of the deforestation on the island of Borneo, which it shares with Indonesia and Brunei. The World Wildlife Fund at the time estimated that illegally logged trees made up about one third of Malaysia's timber exports.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last year pledged not to indiscriminately approve logging licences, amid mounting concern that clearances are threatening endangered species and tribal communities. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who also heads the National Forestry Council, later warned that illegal logging could undermine Malaysia.

"It can jeopardise our efforts to preserve biodiversity, flora and fauna and have an impact on global warming. At the international level, illegal logging portrays a negative image of our country," he said.

"It can harm our national economy as the timber industry produces 23 billion ringgit (6.8 billion dollars) worth of wood-based products a year," he added.

The European Union market accounts for about 30 percent of Malaysia's annual timber exports.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Digital land records to aid farmers of UP, India

LUCKNOW, India: In an effort to prevent land disputes among farmers and to benefit them through welfare schemes, the Uttar Pradesh government has roped in the services of Remote Sensing Application Centre (RSAC) to prepare land maps and digitise records with the help of GIS.

"The government has decided to digitise existing land records and maps. For this it has roped in services of RSAC, which will use Geographical Information System to take satellite images to know the situation," a senior planning department official said. RSAC Director A N Singh said the centre would prepare satellite images of a particular area with the help of GIS technique and compare it with the existing land records. These will then be uploaded in the computer with the help of overlay method to know the exact geographical situation and land use. 

The planning department official said a pilot project in this regard has been initiated by the state government and RSAC in backward Jalaun district in Bundelkhand region after which it would be implemented across the state. The project was initiated after it was observed that due to lack of records in digital form, farmers had to face a lot of hardship in obtaining duplicate papers and maps of their land when the papers were destroyed or decayed, he said. 

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