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Kalogirou S.A.,Cyprus University of Technology | Florides G.A.,Cyprus University of Technology | Pouloupatis P.D.,Cyprus University of Technology | Christodoulides P.,Cyprus University of Technology | Joseph-Stylianou J.,Natural Resources and Environment
Renewable Energy | Year: 2015

In this paper a neural network is used for the generation of a contour map of the ground conductivity in Cyprus. Archived data of thermal conductivity of ground recorded at 41 boreholes are used for training a multiple hidden layer neural network with feedforward architecture. The correlation coefficient obtained between the predicted and training data set is 0.9657, indicating an accurate mapping of the data. The validation of the network was performed using an unknown dataset. The correlation coefficient for the unknown cases was 0.9553. In order to broaden the database, the patterns used for the validation of the technique were embedded into the training data set and a new training of the network was performed. The correlation coefficient value for this case was equal to 0.9718. A 10×10km grid is then drawn over a detailed topographic map of Cyprus and the various input parameters were recorded for each grid point. This information was then supplied to the trained network and by doing so ground conductivity was predicted at each grid-point. This map will be a helpful tool for engineers in designing geothermal heat pump systems in Cyprus. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Brusberg M.D.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Shively R.,Natural Resources and Environment
Weather and Climate Extremes | Year: 2015

Since 2012, drought has had a significant impact on agricultural production in the United States, primarily on the Great Plains and in the West. However, in recognition of the value of both mitigation and response, USDA and its partners are developing a more proactive approach to dealing with the effects of drought. A recent collaboration is the National Drought Resilience Partnership, which was established in 2013 as part of the President's Climate Action Plan. This federal partnership is designed to leverage existing programs and infrastructure in a coordinated effort to help communities better prepare for drought.By highlighting some of the successes achieved during the recent drought in California, this article will examine some of the current activities underway specifically designed to help the agricultural community. Gaps will be identified as well, as a plan to more efficiently provide information to decision makers and the public is presented. In particular, specific programs and agencies will be identified as potential leads to address where future resources should be focused, including implementation of a National Soil Moisture Monitoring Network. © 2015 . Source

News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

Demand from China for the aluminum ingredient has fed a rapid rise in bauxite mining in the third-largest state of Pahang, in the east of peninsular Malaysia, and concern is growing about the impact on the environment. Media on Wednesday showed images of red seas and rivers near the state capital of Kuantan, the center of the industry and the location of a port from which much of the bauxite is shipped. Reporters said the sea were discolored along a 15 km (9 mile) stretch of coast."Of course the federal government and state government are concerned," Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told Reuters. "There has been an ongoing discussion but unfortunately during the monsoon season things got worse. Stockpiles leach out into the sea." In just three years, Malaysia has transformed itself from a modest supplier to the top source of the material for China. The change came after Indonesia banned bauxite exports in early 2014, forcing China, the world's top aluminum producer, to seek supplies elsewhere. In the first 11 months of 2015, Malaysia shipped more than 20 million tonnes of bauxite to China, up nearly 700 percent on the previous year. In 2013, it shipped just 162,000 tonnes. Residents have complained of contamination of water sources and the destruction of their environment as mining operations remove the red earth rich in bauxite. Wan Junaidi has told parliament there is little regulation of the industry and how it manages waste. The ministry has prepared regulations but they have yet to be adopted by the state. Kuantan member of parliament Fuziah Salleh said it was a simple process for companies to get a license to extract laterites, basic materials for aluminum production. Once they have the licenses, they can start extracting, she said. The state government has done little to protect the environment and residents during the industry's growth, she said. This was despite it finding in August that levels of aluminum, mercury, arsenic and manganese in one river were at a level so high it was unusable for consumption, irrigation or recreation, she said. Fuziah cited a report from the state's environment department, a copy of which she showed to Reuters. "The situation is lawless," she told Reuters. "It's a free for all. Bauxite could easily be sustainable but they are doing terrible things to the environment." Pahang's top environment official was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. Media has reported angry residents burning trucks taking bauxite to the port in protest over the environmental impact.

The largely unregulated industry has grown rapidly in the last two years to meet Chinese demand. Bauxite mining was blamed for turning the waters red on a stretch of coastline and surrounding rivers in eastern peninsula Malaysia after two days of heavy rain earlier this week. The cabinet wants to temporarily halt bauxite mining until regulations, licensing and environmental protection can be put in place, the source told Reuters on Saturday. "The idea is to suspend it for a time until all this is sorted out, but ultimately the prerogative for licensing lies with the state," the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to media. Prime Minister Najib Razak has asked the resource minister to resolve the issues with the government of Malaysia's third-largest state and key bauxite producer Pahang, the source said. Waters and seas near Pahang's state capital Kuantan ran red earlier this week as downpours brought an increase in run-off from the ochre-red earth at the mines and the stockpiles, stoking environmental concerns. The state official in charge of the environment Mohd Soffi Abd Razak, however, said the pollution was caused by illegal mine operators and not by mines run by companies approved by the state government, according to local media reports. "We believe the illegal miners are causing the waters to be murky," local daily Malay Mail quoted the official as saying. Bauxite mines have sprung up in Malaysia since late 2014, notably in Kuantan, which faces the South China Sea. The mines have been shipping increasing amounts of the raw material to China, filling in a gap after Indonesia banned bauxite exports in early 2014, forcing the world's top aluminum producer, China, to seek supplies elsewhere. In the first 11 months of 2015, Malaysia exported more than 20 million tonnes of bauxite to China, up nearly 700 percent on the previous year. In 2013, it shipped just 162,000 tonnes. But the frantic pace of mining in Kuantan has brought in its wake a growing clamor of voices complaining of contamination of water sources and the destruction of the environment. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had previously said that Malaysia has come up with a raft of new regulations and guidelines for the industry, but needs the consent of the state government to impose them. The minister could not be immediately reached for a comment by Reuters on Saturday.

News Article
Site: http://phys.org/biology-news/

The huge pile of African elephant tusks, estimated to be worth $20 million, was first fed into in an industrial crusher to be pulverised, and then incinerated in a giant furnace in Port Dickson in southern Malaysia. Malaysia has previously announced in Parliament that 4,624 ivory tusks were confiscated between 2011 and 2014. "This is our first-ever ivory destruction. We want to send a strong message to the world that Malaysia does not compromise in protecting endangered species," Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told AFP. The international ivory trade, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after the population of African elephants declined from millions in the mid-20th century to just 600,000 by the end of the 1980s. But poachers and smugglers have continued to exploit demand, mainly from Asia and particularly China, where ivory is highly prized for medicinal and decorative uses. Malaysia, a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), has seized a number of shipments over the years, mostly by sea. In March, officials said they had confiscated 159 kilogrammes (350 pounds) of ivory smuggled by passengers aboard commercial flights. Wan Junaidi said the tusks destroyed Thursday originated from 11 African countries ranging from Ghana to Tanzania. They were publicly destroyed to deter smugglers, he said, while adding it also was partly in response to questions raised by conservationists over the fate of seized ivory. "I do not want any of the seized ivory lost. If the ivory is no longer needed to be kept for evidence, we will destroy it," he said. The event was witnessed by foreign diplomats and conservation groups. "We look forward to these good intentions being bolstered with concrete actions to tackle the factors that have made Malaysia a key transit point in the global ivory trade," said Kanitha Krishnasamy, programme manager for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

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