Meteorological Conditions in South East Asia: 10 August 1999

Meteorological Conditions in SouthEast Asia

10 August 1999


Indonesian President B.J. Habibie calls for action to stop forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo from spreading. He stated that there is a need to take steps to prevent the fires becoming more widespread as soon as possible. Malaysia has offered Indonesia resources to fight forest fires to prevent a haze disaster. Last year, more than 1,000 Malaysian firefighters were sent to Sumatra to suppress and extinguish the forest fires.

The fires resulted from slash-and-burn clearing by small farmers and also plantation companies were partly be blamed for the rising numbers of forest and scrub fires in Sumatra and Borneo.

The air was clearing over Riau province on Sumatra Island on Sunday after forest fires had covered the city in an unhealthy thick haze for the past several days. The smoke, from fires on Sumatra and Borneo, had pushed air pollution to dangerous levels in Riau, forcing residents to wear masks. The cloud of smoke was regional so thick, that residents northwest of Jakarta said, they have not been able to see the sun because of the smoke.

At the moment there is every indication that this year’s fires could be a repetition of the fire situation of 1997, when forest fires on Borneo and Sumatra swept out of control, and a huge smoke cloud covered the region for several weeks. At least 441 fires were now burning on Sumatra and Borneo.

Two articles Indonesia’s Habibie calls for action to stop fires  (10 August 1999) and Experts call for Jakarta to face court over smog (9 August 1999)  published by Planet Ark gives further detailed information to the current situation in Indonesia..

Several heat signatures were detected by OSEI on 9 August 1999.

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Fig.1. Heat signatures from fires on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia and in Sarawak, Malaysia.

The Meteorological Service of Singapore reports on 9 August 1999 for the South East Asian region: “Central Sumatra and more than half of Kalimantan were covered by clouds. A number of hot spots were detected in Sumatra. Isolated hot spots were also detected in Kalimantan”.

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Fig.2. Regional Surface Winds and Haze/Hot Spot Map, 9 August 1999
Forecasts of winds and surface pressure are available at

A special site dedicated to haze/smoke, entitled with the same name HAZE, gives further information to the current haze situation over South East Asia and SEAsia haze related sites.

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 this month). For background information refer to the ECPC products description page.

maps for Western-Pacific
lately not available maps for Western-Pacific
lately not available maps for Western-Pacific
lately not available

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tomorrow this week this month

Fig.3-8. 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: 10 August 1999).

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 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 9 August 1999 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.9-14.  Output maps of the ASFWIS, 9 August 1999

The latest NOAA14 satellite image shows hot spot locations in Sumatra and Kalimantan. “Hot spots” can be identified as red dots.

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Fig.15. and 16. Latest NOAA Satellite image of Sumatra and Kalimantan, 9 August 1999

The Indonesian Meteorological Agency Badan Meteorologi dan Geofisika publishs the Indonesia Daily Forecasting for 11 August 1999. For the representative selected areas metereological data are provided as follows:

Palembang Samarinda Ujung Pandang Dili Bandung Weather condition rain cloudy cloudy clear cloudy Temperature (min-max °C) 24-32°C 23-33°C 22-32°C 19-30°C 17-29°C Humidity (min-max %) 55-93 60-96 60-97 50-74 50-82

The Forest Fire Prevention and Control Project (FFPCP) in Palembang (Sumatra) provides a new fire overview map on 9 August 1999.

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Fig.17. Fire Overview Map for 9 August 1999 of the FFPCP project in Palembang. New hotspots had been found in three more provinces in Sumatra island, including its most northern and southern provinces, Aceh and Lampung.

The newest fire overview map for the Integrated Forest Fire Management (IFFM) project in Kalimantan shows 7 hotspots on the 8 August 1999.

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Fig.18. Fire Overview Map for 8 August 1999 of the IFFM project in Samarinda

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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