The ASEAN Fire Weather Information System (ASFWIS) 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 , and is currently tested on an experimental basis. Studies have shown that the CFFDRS is applicable outside of Canada. Currently it is also used in a modified form in New Zealand. According to M.Alexander (1994) the Weather Indices Fine Fuel Moisture Code (FFMC) and the Initial Spread Index (ISI) represent the fire danger in the scrublands of New Zealand. 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 my serve as a suitable indicator of forest fire danger in South East Asia. According to the ASFWIS (http://www.nofc.forestry.ca/fire/asean/) for the 4 November 1998 these parameters are low in almost all of South East Asia. The highest readings are recorded for northern Thailand, with the FFMC ranging between 85-89. The readings in Indonesia indicate minor fire danger for the region.
Fig.1. FFMC output of the ASFWIS
Fig.2. DMC output of the ASFWIS
Fig.3. ISI output of the ASFWIS
These findings are consistent with the current weather reports from Badan Meteorologi dan Geofisika (http://bmg.cbn.net.id/) which records rainy and cloudy conditions for Indonesia with temperatures between 20 degrees ° Celsius (Bandung) and 33 degrees° Celsius with high humidity (up to 99%), the general forecast for whole Indonesia is rainy or at least cloudy.
The Meteorological Service of Singapore (http://www.gov.sg/metsin/hazed.html) reports for the South East Asian region only a limited number of burning activities in Central and Northern Sumatra. It further states that the region is “generally clear of smoke haze”, The Meteorological Service states for the near future that: “rainfall in the region is expected to be near or above normal for the next few months. However it should be noted that many parts of Indonesia (Kalimantan and parts of Sumatra) would be in their traditional dry season in the next few months. As such, though extensive and prolonged smoke haze is unlikely for this period, occasional short periods (e.g. a few days) of slight to moderate haze in a more localised manner remain probable”.
The IFFM/gtz Project (http://smd.mega.net.id/iffm/fdr.html) reports low fire danger based on the Keetch Byram Index used in East Kalimantan. The NOAA AVHRR receiving station of the project reported 41 hotspots on 23 October 1998 for Kalimantan with a detection threshold of 320 K, although the fire detection was obscured due to cloud coverage over Kalimantan. (http://smd.mega.net.id/iffm/hotspots_map.htm)
Although the current fire weather conditions do under normal conditions not favour extensive vegetation burnings, the fire occurrence last year and in the beginning of this year must been taken into consideration. The forest fires caused extensive degradation of closed forests along with the spreading of Alang-Alang (Imperata cylindrica) grasslands and thereby favour the fuel bed of new fires. It can be predicted that in November with only moderate fire danger new vegetation fires will occur.
Alexander, M:E: 1994. Proposed revision of fire danger class criteria for forest and rural areas in New Zealand. National Rural Fire Authority, Wellington, New Zealand. Circular 1994/2. 73 p.