22 December 2013

Dan Friess' Singapore Almanac of Secret Earth Magic

"Dynamic Environments of Singapore" is stuffed with intriguing information that helped me better understand Singapore's geography. Like floods, erosion, impact of rising seas, and most importantly (to me), what did Singapore look like when dinosaurs ruled?
I love the cover: highlights the massive reclamation
for the Pasir Panjang Terminal taken from
Labrador Hill. I can almost see Cyrene Reef!
Written by Dr Dan Friess and Dr Grahame Oliver, I got a peek at the book thanks to Lisda Ahmad of McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).

I'm a geography zero so I found the book packed with fascinating information!

There's lots of cool maps such as this colourful geological map of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.
So finally, I actually get a better sense of what people mean when they say "Jurong Formation" (which is what our Southern Islands are mostly made of), and "Sajahat Formation" which makes up half of Pulau Tekong, the other half being made up of "Pengerang Volcanics". And see, Pulau Ubin is made up of granite, like a large area of the centre of Singapore Island. Wow, how did it get like that?
My favourite diagram is this one which is captioned: "Artist's impression of Connecticut USA, in the late Triassic, 200 million years ago. Singapore would have looked like this back then. Imagine looking east from Jurong Town Centre 200 million years ago before the mountains were eroded away to low hills. In the distance is the Bukit Timah Fault Scarp. In the foreground is a braided river draining into Lake Sentosa."
Among the important issues covered in this book is soil erosion, well illustrated by these photos of "Effects of accelerated soil erosion at NUS Kent Ridge campus".
I'm so glad to see lots of information about Singapore's coasts. Including this diagram of "Estimation of natural versus artificial coastline in Singapore, derived from Google Earth". All key aspects of coasts and coastal development are covered including the "Economic and legal questions of artificial coasts" such as "Where does the sand come from?" and territorial disputes that arise from reclamation.
I'm so glad there are chapters on marine ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs and YES, also seagrasses! And dugongs are mentioned! Hurray!
There's of course a chapter on the critical issue of water in Singapore: too much water AND too little water. There's an interesting section on the geology behind the Orchard Road floods, and a discussion of two different ways to deal with floods.
We've always been told that Singapore has zero natural resources. So it's refreshing to be reminded that this is not true. In the second but last chapter, some of Singapore's natural resources are highlighted. Including "the importance of being an island", and how it is activities in our waters and along our coast that account for a large proportion of Singapore's economy.
The last chapter highlights some of the key challenges Singapore faces in the future. Among them, the serious implications of rising sea levels: "With 1-metre sea level rise, Singapore's Mean High Water Spring tidal height would be similar to our current highest ever recorded high tide". The 2013 White Paper on Population is also included in this chapter.
Of course there's lots and lots more information about almost everything geological that I didn't even know I didn't know. As well as lots of discussion of more terrestrial issues (I just zoomed in on the coastal ones).  Dan says "the book was primarily written for my Biophysical Environment Class at NUS so is closely linked to the material covered in the lectures, but it might be a nice introductory text for other interested readers."

It will indeed be a great resource for me, to get a good grounding in the issues, and to better understand some of the new information about climate and other changes ahead of us.

Thank you Dan and Lisda for the book. Kimmy also thanks you. She immediately owned the box that the book was delivered in!

Here's the proper description of the book provided by Lisda:

Dynamic Environments of Singapore
ISBN 978-981-4575-70-6
Authors Dr Daniel Friess, Dr Grahame Oliver Specifications
8 in x 10 in
192 pp Soft cover

About the book:
• This book provides a comprehensive overview of the diverse biophysical environments found in Singapore.
• The book is suitable for reading across disciplines such as Geography, Biology, Ecology and Earth Sciences.
• The book describes Singapore’s coastal, terrestrial and aquatic environments.
• It links the long-term geological processes with the ever-changing terrain of Singapore.
• The book allows readers to understand the importance of the biophysical environment of Singapore in urban development, future land-use decisions and climate change adaptations.

Features of the book:
- The book is organized in the following manner:
Four sections:
I. Singapore and the Earth System
II. Singapore’s Coastal and Marine Environment
III. Singapore’s Terrestrial Environment
IV. The Future of Singapore
- It has an Index at the end of the book that lists important terms found in the book.
- Full colour maps and diagrams.
- Easy to understand language.
- Suitable for use in introductory undergraduate and junior college courses.

For more details contact McGraw-Hill Education (Asia).

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