GFMC: Meterological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia

SouthEast Asia

RegularFire and Weather Update

25 June 2004

Latest Media News

Malaysia urges Indonesia to tackle fires that send smog over tourist sites

Friday, June 25, 2004
By Rohan Sullivan, Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia wants neighboring Indonesia to crack down on farmers who set land-clearing fires that are sending thick smoke over parts of Southeast Asia, threatening health, and fouling the skies of tourist resorts.
This week’s haze is among the worst since 1997-98, when wildfires in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan provinces burned out of control for weeks, destroying 10 million hectares (25 million acres), blanketing Singapore and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia with thick smoke and triggering a diplomatic dispute.
Malaysia, which fears its tourism industry is being damaged by the haze, may call for a meeting of Southeast Asian nations to discuss the problem if it gets worse, The Star newspaper on Thursday quoted Deputy Environment Minister S. Sothinathan as saying.
In Indonesia, Vice President Hamzah Haz suggested his government was not responsible for putting the fires out, raising the prospect that haze could again cause friction between the countries.
“Please don’t use the old paradigm in which the central government was always asked to tackle it,” Haz was quoted as saying by state news agency, Antara. Local authorities should be able to cope with the fires, he said.
Forestry Department official Haris Yunanto said a task force has been mobilized to deal fires “in large swathes of plantations and concessions” in Riau province just south of Singapore, but activists said previous government promises to enforce fire bans had little result.
“We keep urging government to apply stern policies, but so far there is no significant solution,” said Ade Fadli from Indonesia’s Environmental Forum.
Malaysia has issued warnings of unhealthy air over some of its cities, including Kuala Lumpur and the historic tourist destinations Penang and Melacca, and warned residents to stay inside.
The brown haze is coming from Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, where the fires have delayed flights and prompted health authorities to hand out masks. Officials in Singapore also have warned of increased air pollution.
Economic losses from the 1997-98 disaster topped US$9.3 billion and prompted a 2002 agreement among six Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to fight fire pollution. This week’s haze has been intense, but so far not as sustained as during the earlier crisis.
Malaysia is complaining that Indonesia has not ratified the agreement and is dragging its heels on preventing the fires, often set illegally by farmers to clear land during the annual dry season.
Malaysia’s call for Indonesia to ratify the accord was reinforced in an editorial Thursday in the government-linked New Straits Times newspaper, which said Indonesia should “demonstrate its goodwill and commitment in combatting haze” to its neighbors.
“The haze has become an unwelcome annual event that should not be happening at all given the time, effort, and resources put in by the affected countries over the past seven years,” the editorial said.
Indonesian Environment Ministry official Sudaryono, who uses only one name, promised ratification of the pact was “just a matter of time.”
Source: Associated Press

Taken two weeks apart, these pictures show a clear Kuala Lumpur skyline and what it was like yesterday. — PHOTOS: AFP

For recent satellite scenes, photographs and background information see:

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

Regional Smoke-Haze Monitoring

The Meteorological Division of the Singapore National Environment Agency provides a daily updated map showing active fires (land-use fires, wildfires), smoke haze and surface wind directions within the South East Asian region.

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  • Latest map of surfacewinds and smoke haze/hot spots observed over cloud-free areas.

  • Latest regional active fire („hotspot“) maps:

  • Forecast of winds and surface pressure for the South East Asian Region:

  • Other Regional NOAA and GOES Satellite Images:
  • Update of Regional Weather and Smoke Haze for the last Month:

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: 24 June 2004
(Source: IFFM FireMaps)

Fire Activity Monitoring in South Sumatra

The South Sumatra Forest Fire Management Project provides regular fire activity maps based on the products of the MODIS Rapid Response System:

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 ANDES website. The map below shows the last fire map of mainland SE Asia(Thailand, Myanmar, Lao, Cambodia, Viet Nam).

LastANDESfire 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 (CFS) and the Malaysian Meteorological Service (MMS), supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Daily updated SEA Fire Danger Rating can be downloaded on the following website of  MMS, and background information on the project can be found at the SEA FDRS Project website.

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Latest example of a SEA FDRS product:
The Fire Weather Index (FWI) values shown on the map are numerical ratings offire intensity.
Information from the Initial Spread Index (ISI) and Build Up Index (BUI) iscombined to provide a numerical rating of fire intensity.
This index is used to indicate the difficulty of fire control based on the headfire intensity and fire fighting capability.

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):

Fire Danger Rating for East Kalimantan generally is MODERATE.
– No Hotspot Detected during this week.
– No Land or Forest fire occurences reported by District/municipalities
– The Readiness Level for East Kalimantan is NORMAL.

For more detailed information, see also: Fire situation report of EastKalimantan (17 February 2004), compiled and analyzed by the Provincial Fire Management Center, Samarinda.The complete (detailed) report willbe sent on request. Contact:

Fire Weather in South Sumatra

The South Sumatra Forest Fire Management Project provides regular fire weather updates:

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

  • 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
  • Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics

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