GFMC: Meteorological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia: 26 July 2000

Meteorological Conditions and Firein South East Asia

26 July 2000

The Meteorological Service of Singapore reports on 26 July 2000 for the South East Asian region: “Due to extensive cloud coverage, no hot spots were observed. The region is generally wet.” Forecasts of winds and surface pressure are also available.

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Regional Surface Winds and Haze/Fire Map, 26 July 2000
(Source: Meteorological Service of Singapore)

The same meteorological service also provides rainfall-record charts for selected locations in Sumatra and Kalimantan with information about the mean annual rainfall and the actual monthly and weekly records for this year.

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Rainfall charts for Sumatra and Kalimantan
(Source: Meteorological Service of Singapore)

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

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Fire Weather Index (FWI) forecast for tomorrow (left), next week (center) and the predicted FWI total for next 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 total 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: 26 July 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 25 July 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

Output maps of the ASFWIS (update 26 July 2000)

Sumatra blazes too hot to handle for ASEAN

“Sumatran forest fires have raised fears of a re-run of Asia’s 1997 smog crisis, but anyone calling the fire brigade had better hope ASEAN  ministers don’t pick up the phone. The Association of South East Asian Nations, grouping 10 countries, prides itself in having maintained peaceful relations between its members for the 33 years of its existence. When it comes to action, the ASEAN record shows a little progress toward a regional trade area, reams of politely expressed good intentions and not a lot else. With narcotics trafficking, human rights abuses, ethnic violence and simple, grinding poverty facing many ASEAN members, a bit of smog seems hardly the bloc’s most pressing issue. ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Smoke from Sumatra’s recent fires — many started illegally to clear land — briefly sent smog over parts of neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and even southern Thailand. Two years ago, smog from slash-and-burn forest fires   in Indonesia blanketed parts of Southeast Asia, taking a heavy toll on health and tourism. A Jakarta official said today the government would soon order 12 plantation firms to cease operations after accusations they started fires. Indonesia said it was happy for ASEAN foreign ministers to address the issue during their two-day event in the Thai capital. ASEAN hot air unable to clear haze Even so, the best ASEAN ministers could do in their final communique, a draft of which was seen by Reuters on Monday, was to mouth a few vague words noting progress toward an agreement on cross-border pollution. It may be unrealistic to expect action by ASEAN, or any international body, to have much impact on Indonesia’s environmental problems at a time when it faces various ethnic conflicts threatening to tear the country apart. Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto, director of forest campaigners Telapak Indonesia, said solutions to his country’s problems lay in the hands of the Jakarta government. He told Reuters today that burning logged-out areas was only one step in a process that began with government seizure of peoples’ land to give to local and foreign timber barons. Once the most valuable trees were illegally logged out, he said, the remaining scrub was set ablaze to clear the way for commercial forestry, palm-oil plantations and other crops, with untouched forest often being torched in the process. ‘What the government has to do is to stop the conflict between the industry and the local people who originally owned the land,’ he said. ‘What we want to see is the political will to deal with this problem. There should be investigations into companies that clear land and punishments for cases of illegal logging. That’s the only hope that the Indonesian people can expect  now.’ It was the arrival of the rains and an end to the drought conditions brought on by El Niño that ended the fires of 1997-1998. A couple of years later the only viable fire brigade would still seem to be the one stationed in the clouds.”
(By Patrick Chalmers Environmental News Net Work Tuesday, 25 July 2000)

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) provided a fire overview map for 23 July 2000.

The Integrated Forest Fire Management Project (IFFM) in Samarinda (East Kalimantan) detected 20 hot spots on 19 July 2000.

The Southwest Monsoon has set in and with it the onset of generally dry weather over Singapore and the surrounding region. As the south-west winds increase in strength and persistency in the next 3 to 4 months, periods of dry weather can be expected from time to time. With each spell of relatively dry weather, increased forest fires and accompanying hotspots are likely. However, the prolonged widespread dry weather experienced in 1997 as a result of the strong El Nino is not likely to develop this year. As the current La Nina continues to weaken for the rest of the year, weather conditions are expected to return to normal. Hence in the current Southwest Monsoon season, while weather conditions are expected to be generally dry, occasional widespread squally pre-dawn and early morning showers are expected in the region on about 3 to 4 times per month between May and October. The occurrence of the widespread showers should help to prevent the recurrence of a similar 1997 widespread and prolonged smoke haze episode in the region. (Source: Meteorological Service of Singapore)

For further information, please also have a look to the current and archived IFFN Country Notes.

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