GFMC: Meterological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia

SouthEast Asia

RegularFire and Weather Update


25 August 2005



Current Media Information:

UNOCHA / GFMC: Indonesia: Fires OCHA Situation Report No. 1 (published by UNOCHA, 16 August 2005)

UNOCHA / GFMC: Indonesia: Fires OCHA Situation Report No. 2 (published by UNOCHA, 19 August 2005)

See also earlier GFMC Updates:

The following information is taken from the following websites of the Indonesian Ministry for Forestry and reflects the situation back in the 1990s when land-use fires burned in the same regions of Sumatra, especially in Riau Province in a similar way as they continue in 2005:

Air Quality Emergency in Malaysia:

Out-of-control forest fires burning on the eastern shore of Sumatra (image center) created an air quality emergency for neighboring Malaysia in early August 2005 as smoke shrouded parts of the country. The smoke hung thick over Malaysia’s busy capital, Kuala Lumpur, where it forced businesses, schools, and transportation to close. This image, created using data collected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite, shows the density of the smoke in August 2005. Red-colored areas show where smoke was thickest.


AURA- OMI
August 2005

(Source: Earth Observatory)

The densest smoke hangs over the Strait of Malacca, between Sumatra and mainland Malaysia to the northeast. Winds in this region often blow from the west, spreading smoke from burning peat swamp forest in coastal Sumatra toward the east. The thickness of the smoke tapers off to mostly green and blue values between mainland Malaysia and the island of Borneo, farther east. A less intense smoke plume is located on the west coast of Borneo, coming from a much smaller collection of fires. Perhaps it is the combination of these two sources of smoke—Sumatra and western Borneo—that gives rise to the yellow (higher values) area between the Borneo and the mainland.

Smoke contains many substances, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water vapor, and particulate matter. OMI measures smoke by tracking black carbon particles, or soot, that absorb ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the wavelengths of sunlight that cause sunburns. By measuring how much UV radiation the soot absorbs, OMI provides estimates of the amount of black carbon aerosol in the smoke layer. This method of detecting aerosols based on their interaction with UV rather than visible (rainbow) light allows OMI to measure absorption by black carbon in smoke even if the smoke is mixed with or floating above clouds. Measurements of how much radiation aerosols absorb are important for scientists trying to calculate the net effect of aerosols on Earth’s energy budget and climate.

(Source: Earth Observatory)

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 surface winds 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 updated maps generated by NOAA-AVHRR showing active land-use fires and wildfires in Brunei and the Indonesian and Malaysian provinces on Borneo Island.

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Latest fire overview map for Borneo: 15 December 2004
(Source: IFFM Fire Maps)

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

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.

Latest example of a SEA FDRS product:
The Fire Weather Index (FWI) values shown on the map are numerical ratings of fire intensity.
Information from the Initial Spread Index (ISI) and Build Up Index (BUI) is combined to provide a numerical rating of fire intensity.
This index is used to indicate the difficulty of fire control based on the head fire 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 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 background information refer to the ECPC products description page.

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tomorrow – week – monthly

Fire Weather Index (FWI) forecast for  this week (left) and the predicted FWI total for next month (right)
for the Western Pacific (1-3) and the Pacific Ocean (4-6) regions.
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.
(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)

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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