GFMC: Meterological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia

SouthEast Asia

RegularFire and Weather Update


08 September 2004



Satellite image: Fires on Borneo and Sumatra

Slash-and-burn forest clearing and open cropland burning on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and in the Kalimantan portion of the island of Borneo are blanketing the region with a pall of haze that has delayed air travel and prompted government officials to distribute gas masks to island residents, according to various news reports. This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image shows the polluted air across Sumatra (left) and Borneo (right) on September 7, 2004. Actively burning fires have been marked with red dots, and a pall of grayish smoke hangs over the region.

A Sumatran environmental officer was quoted in the news as reporting that the level of ash, dust and other particles in the air on September 5 and 6 reached 395 and 350 micrograms (a microgram is a millionth of a gram) per cubic meter—more than three times the safe level of no more than 100 micrograms per cubic meter. In some places visibility is only a few hundred meters.

From July through October, people have traditionally used fire to clear forest land for planting and to clear away the previous year’s crop stubble to make ready for the new planting season. However, after a devastating burning season associated with a severe El Niño in 1998 destroyed millions of square kilometers of forest, the government has been trying to crack down on the illegal burning with the help of regional governments. The policies have been difficult to enforce, and the problem returns each year.

NASA image by Jesse Allen, based on data from the MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA-GSFC

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.
(Source: http://app.nea.gov.sg/cms/htdocs/article.asp?pid=1195)

  • Latest regional active fire („hotspot“) maps:
    http://app.nea.gov.sg/cms/htdocs/article.asp?pid=1674

  • Forecast of winds and surface pressure for the South East Asian Region:
    http://app.nea.gov.sg/cms/htdocs/article.asp?pid=1122

  • Other Regional NOAA and GOES Satellite Images:
    http://app.nea.gov.sg/cms/htdocs/category_sub.asp?cid=59
  • Update of Regional Weather and Smoke Haze for the last Month:
    http://app.nea.gov.sg/cms/htdocs/article.asp?pid=1196

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: 04 September 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: http://www.ssffmp.or.id/ssffmp/fwi-2.asp?id=2

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.

Information on the Indonesian Fire Danger Rating System (Indonesian FDRS) is provided by the Indonesian Bureau of Meteorology and Geophysics (BMG) in Jakarta. The site provides information for fire managers working to prevent and control vegetation fires and smoke in Indonesia. This link points to the English version; a Bahasa Indonesian version can be found there as well: http://www.bmg.go.id:8080/fdrs/index_e.html.

The GFMC displays selected and daily updated global andAsia-Pacific Experimental Climate 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: uptd_pkhl@samarinda.org

Fire Weather in South Sumatra

The South Sumatra Forest Fire Management Project provides regular fire weather updates: http://www.ssffmp.or.id/ssffmp/fwi.asp

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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