GFMC: Meterological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia

SouthEast Asia

RegularFire and Weather Update

FireEmergency in  Indonesia

11 June 2003

FireEmergency in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia

GFMC Update:

On 9 June 2003 the GFMC has received notifications about increasing fire activities in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, and resulting smoke-haze pollution in the adjoining countries of Malaysia and Thailand.


Latest Satellite Images:

This MODIS scene from 10 June 2003  showing fires burning in Sumatra, Indonesia. Click on the image to see a 500m resolution.

Heat signatures (red),  and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning in Kalimantan, Indonesia  in this NOAA-12 image.
Source: NEA

Latest Media Report

Thick haze risks health, affects trafic in Riau
(published by The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru, Riau, 11 June 2003)
by Haidir Anwar Tanjung,

Choking haze plaguing the main island of Riau and the Riau archipelago, bordering Singapore and Malaysia, has reached an alarming level, raising health concerns and disturbing traffic in the province.

The thick haze, caused by smoke from forest fires in almost all regencies, blanketed the province, including the provincial capital of Pekanbaru, on Monday and Tuesday.

Visibility was limited to less than 100 meters early on Tuesday from less than 500 meters on Monday. Many people complained of eye irritation and had difficulty breathing.

The local health office has distributed masks to motorists and pedestrians in the city. But, so far, no hospitals in the city have admitted patients with respiratory problems or lung ailments.

The thick haze has also disrupted the traffic within the city and to and from the city. Motorists in the city are using masks and helmets to avoid breathing in the smog.

The Sultan Sjarif Kasim II Airport continued to operate, but all airplanes flying to and from the province were warned about the thick haze that has reached an intolerable level. Many drivers complained that they had to spend 10 hours from the normal seven hours to reach the city from the West Sumatra capital of Padang. And thousands of inter-province buses and trucks used fog lights due to poor visibility.

Local authorities have blamed the choking haze on the rampant fires set by farms and palm oil plantations to clear their land at the start of the dry season as is done annually.

According to Singapore-based National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) imagery on June 9, there were 1,280 hot spots and a total of around 12,000 hectares of rain forest was burning in almost all regencies in the province.

Chief of the forest protection section at the local forestry office Farizal Labay told The Jakarta Post here on Tuesday that according to the NOAA imagery, Riau was the largest area hit by the haze and fires since the number of hot spots in other provinces, including West and Central Kalimantan was less than 200.

He said that of the 1,280 hot spots, 276 were found in Bengkalis regency, 388 in Kampar, 47 in Indragiri Hulu, 40 in Kuantan Sengingi, 147 in Rokan Hulu, 46 in Indragiri Hilir, 138 in Rokan Hilir, 35 in Dumai and the rest was found in the Riau archipelago.

Labay said his office has deployed 240 firemen with many tankers to the fire sites, but they had difficulty accessing the fire sites as they were located far from main roads.

He regretted the provincial administration’s tardy response in handling the forest fires, saying all sides involved in starting the forest fires should be punished in accordance with the environmental and forestry laws.

“Authorities could impose Article 5 of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry against individuals, plantation and forestry companies using fires to clear their land,” he said, citing that the article carries a maximum 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rp 5 billion (US$609,756).

There is no information whether the thick haze has reached neighboring countries of Singapore and Malaysia, but according to NOAA imagery, as many as 76 hot spots were detected in Malaysia.

I. Monitoring of Smoke-Haze and Active Fires (land-use fires and wildfires)

Regional Smoke-Haze Monitoring

The Meteorological ServicesDivision of Singapore provides a daily updated schematic of areasaffected by fires and smoke haze within the South East Asian region.Additionally, regional surface winds are displayed.

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Latest map of surface winds andsmoke haze/hot spots observed over cloud-free areas
(Source: Meteorological ServicesDivision of Singapore)

Forecastsof winds and surface pressure for the South East Asian region basedon Numerical Weather Product Models are also providedby Meteorological ServicesDivision of Singapore.

Fire Activity Monitoring in Borneo(Kalimantan, Sabah, Sarawak)

The Integrated Forest Fire Management Project (IFFM) in Samarinda provides regulary updatedmaps generated by NOAA-AVHRR showing active land-use fires and wildfires inBrunei and the Indonesian and Malaysian provinces on BorneoIsland.

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Latest fire overview map for Borneo
(Source: IFFM FireMaps)

Fire Activity Monitoring in Mainland SE Asia

The Asia Pacific Network for Disaster Mitigation using Earth ObservationSatellite (ANDES) provides daily fire maps of mainland and insular South EastAsia. The latest maps can be accessed through the ANDESwebsite. The map below shows the latest fire map of mainland SE Asia(Thailand, Myanmar, Lao, Cambodia, Viet Nam).

LatestANDESfire location map of mainland South East Asia.
The map is generated on the basis of two satellite sensors (NOOA-AVHRR, DMSP/OLS).
Source: ANDES

II. Fire Weather and Fire Danger Monitoring and Early Warning

Regional Fire Weather

The Regional South East Asia Fire Danger Rating System (SEA FDRS) is a joint effort between the Canadian Forest Service and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in cooperation with various partners in Indonesia.

Fine Fuel Moisture Code

Fire Danger in SE Asia

Fine Fuel Moisture Code

The parameters for the Fire WeatherIndex (Fine Fuel Moisture Code, Duff Moisture Code, Drought Code, Initial SpreadIndex, Buildup Index) can be found directly at:

The GFMC displays selected and daily updated global andAsia-Pacific ExperimentalClimate Prediction Center (ECPC)  Fire Weather Forecasts.These examples allow a quicklook and provide daily and weekly total forecastsand forecasted monthly totals. For background information refer to the ECPCproducts description page.

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tomorrow week monthly

Fire Weather Index (FWI) forecast for  thisweek (left) and the predictedFWI total for next month (right) for the Western Pacific (1-3) and the PacificOcean (4-6) regions.
The weekly total forecast and the monthly forecasted total refer to 00:00 hrsUTC,which is local noon at dateline (180° longitude). Forecast time is 12:00 hrsnoon UTC (Greenwich)corresponding to local evening time in mainland and insular SE Asia.
(Source: ECPCFire Weather Index Forecast)

Fire  Weather in East Kalimantan

Based on data from six weather stations (Indonesian Meterological Service) the following Fire Danger situation has been determined by the Integrated Forest Fire Management Project (IFFM):

Average Fire Danger for all six location: Moderate.
Samarinda: High
Balikpapan: Low
Tanjung Selor:Moderate
Tanjung Redep:Extreme

The Readiness level for East Kalimantan based and determined on Fire Danger Rating System (BMG), Hotspot , Weather Forecast ( ), Observed Smoke and Haze, Surface winds, Fire activities report from local fire services is at the alert III

For more detailed information, see also: Fire situation report of EastKalimantan (03 June 2003), compiled and analyzed by the Provincial Fire Management Center, Samarinda.The complete(detailed) report willbe sent on request. Contact:

Fire Early Warning Bulletin for South East Asia

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Project Fire Fight Southeast Asia (PFFSEA) have launched the Fire Bulletin, a weekly analyses and information on fire, haze, and related issues in Indonesia.

III. Further information: 

  • Regional South East Asia Wildland Fire Network

  • IFFN Country Notes

  • Haze Prevention Group
    The industrial initiative to combat haze in SE Asia provides a website which includes information about the objectives of this industrial initiative and projects implemented to reduce wildfires and haze in Indonesia.

  • 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

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