Meteorological Conditions in South East Asia: 8 March 2000

Meteorological Conditions in SouthEast Asia

8 March 2000

The Meteorological Service of Singapore reports on 8 March 2000 for the South East Asian region: “Hot spots were observed mainly in central Sumatra and Borneo. Smoke haze was also observed over central Sumatra.” Forecasts of winds and surface pressure are also available.

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Fig. 1. Regional Surface Winds and Haze/Hot Spot Map, 8 March 2000
(Source: Meteorological Service of Singapore)

The latest NOAA14 satellite image show “High Temperature Events, HTE” (hot spots) and smoke in Sumatra and Borneo. HTE’s can be identified as red dots.

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Fig.2. & 3. Latest NOAA Satellite images of Sumatra and Borneo, 8 March 2000
(Source: Meteorological Service of Singapore)

PlanetArk posted this article today:

Indonesia smog recurs, neighbours hope nocrisis

SINGAPORE – Forest fires threw clouds of smoke over parts ofIndonesia’s Sumatra island yesterday while neighbouring countrieshoped there would be no repeat of the widespread smog of 1997which hit health and tourism. The fires were centred deep in rain forest in southern Sumatra’s Riau province but clusters of blazes were also breaking out in coastal areas, a local fire-fighting official said. “From our observation, since the beginning of March, fire activities are increasing,” said Irfan Destianto Imanda of the Forest Fire Prevention andControl Project in South Sumatra. “The activity can be monitored day and night. That indicates quiteserious fires are going on,” he said. Widespread fires in 1997 in Sumatra and the Indonesian province of Kalimantan, on Borneo Island, caused thick smog to engulf Singaporeand parts of Malaysia. They brought widespread health problems and damaged the touristindustry across the region.
Residents of the oil town of Pekanbaru, at the centre of the current fires, said smoke was making life very uncomfortable.”We’re living in the land of the clouds here. If you can, do not come to Pekanbaru,” one resident told Reuters.Another resident complained of throat problems. Some people were wearing face masks and the air quality over the town had reached a hazardous level due to some 212 fire hotspots, a government environmental agency said.A spokesman for U.S. oil firm Caltex, which has three wells in Riau, said its operations had not been affected by the smoke but its staff had, even though the air quality over its oil wells was better than that over Pekanbaru. The quality of air over Singapore was moderate on Tuesday while Malaysia enjoyed good conditions, officials said. Experts have blamed the fires on logging companies and squatters clearing land for farming, problems exacerbated by Indonesia’s protracted political and economic crises. The 1997 fires were particularly bad due to a dry spell caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Conditions this year were much wetter with the La Nina weather pattern, raising hopes there would be no repeat of the crisis, the officials said.
But heavy fires over Sumatra in June, when the wind begins to blow from the southwest, would cast smoke over Singapore and Malaysia, they said. “If the fires persist until then, we will begin to feel the effects of the haze,” said Rosnani Ibarahim, director-general of Malaysia’s Deparment of Environment. Singapore’s Pollution Standard Index stood at 53 late on Monday. An air-quality reading of 0-50 is considered good while 51-100 is moderate and 101-200 is unhealthy. Malaysian environmentalist Meenakshi Raman said an action plan adopted by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) after the 1997 smog had failed to solve the pollution threat. “Quite obviously what has been negotiated is not really being translated into action on the ground,” she said. “We want an explanation as to what is happening…Why is there all talk and no action? We are extremely concerned.”

The GFMC displays selected and daily updated global and Asia-Pacific Experimental Climate Prediction Center (ECPC)  Fire Weather Forecasts (Fig.2-7). These examples allow a quicklook and provide daily and weekly total forecasts, and forecasted monthly anomalies (for next month). For background information refer to the ECPC products description page.

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Fig.4.-9. Fire Weather Index (FWI) forecast for tomorrow (left), this week (center) and the predicted FWI anomaly for this month (right) for the Western Pacific and the Pacific Ocean. The daily forecast refers to 12:00 hrs noon UTC (Greenwich) time; the weekly total forecast and the monthly forecasted anomaly refer to 00:00 hrs UTC, which is local noon at dateline (180° longitude). Forecast time is 12:00 hrs noon UTC (Greenwich) corresponding to local evening time in mainland and insular SE Asia (updated: 2 March 2000).
(Source: ECPC)

The ASEAN Fire Weather Information System (ASFWIS) is a co-operation between ASEAN and the Canadian Forest Service. It provides maps describing the current fire weather situation in South East Asia. This system is based upon the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) (for further infomation to the CFFDRS refer to ASFWIS). Studies have shown that the CFFDRS is applicable outside of Canada. Currently it is also used in a modified form in New Zealand (see References). In New Zealand the Fire Weather Indices Fine Fuel Moisture Code (FFMC) and the Initial Spread Index (ISI) represent the fire danger in the scrublands. The Duff Moisture Code (DMC) is also applicable in South East Asia, because it potentially describes the moisture state of the upper peat layers in peat and peat swamp forests. All three parameters may serve as a suitable indicator of forest fire danger in South East Asia.

According to the ASFWIS for 7 March 2000 these parameters show various fire weather conditions over South East Asia.

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Fine Fuel Moisture Code

Duff Moisture Code

Drought Code

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Initial Spread Index

Buildup Index

Fire Weather Index

Fig.10.-15.  Output maps of the ASFWIS, 7 March 2000
(Source: ASFWIS)

The ASEAN Haze Action Online provides the following information:

  • Monitoring: Hyperlinks to institutions involved in regional monitoring and prediction of fire and smoke haze
  • Haze News: ASEAN Transboundary Haze Update (updated daily)
  • Intranet: Information and possible participation in the ASEAN Haze Action Online Intranet Information Services (for associated registered participants)
  • Mobilization Plan: Model Fire Suppression Mobilization Plan
  • Inventory: Inventory and analysis of forest and land fire suppression capabilities
  • Haze Forum: Communication platform on fire and smoke-haze issues in the ASEAN region
  • Calendar: Fire and haze-related events can be identified by a search modus

The Forest Fire Prevention and Control Project (FFPCP) in Palembang (Sumatra) provides a fire overview map for the 7 March 2000.

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Fig.16. Fire Overview Map for 7 March 2000 of the FFPCP project in Palembang.
(Source: FFPCP)

The last available fire overview map (29 February 2000) of the Integrated Forest Fire Management (IFFM) project in Kalimantan shows 17 HTE’s (hot spots).

The Indonesian Meteorological Agency Badan Meteorologi dan Geofisika publishs the Indonesia Daily Forecasting for 9 March 2000. For the representative selected areas metereological data are provided as follows:

    Palembang Samarinda Bandung Weather condition cloudy rain rain Temperature (min – max °C) 25 – 30 25 – 30 18 – 28 Humidity (min – max %) 52 – 95 70 – 92 64 – 89

Summary: Although the current fire weather conditions do under normal conditions not favour extensive land clearing by fire or escaping wildfires in Indonesia, the consequences of the large wildfires of 1997-98 must been taken into consideration. These fires had caused extensive degradation of primary and secondary forests along with the spreading of “alang-alang” (Imperata cylindrica) grasslands. These grasslands facilitate the spread of uncontrolled fires over large areas.

See also the IFFN Country Notes.

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