In Sumatra and Indonesia, seasonal fires and the thick smoke they produce plagued the islands for nearly two months in late 2006. Beginning in mid-September 2006, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Aqua satellite detected numerous fires in daily images of the area. This image was captured by Aqua MODIS on 9 November 2006. Active fire locations are marked with red dots. Thick smoke spreads between the two islands, the grayish haze mingling with brighter clouds.
AQUA 9 November 2006
Many factors contribute to the fires, which usually start from agricultural burning, but often spread into adjacent tropical forest. When the forests have been degraded by logging, they become much more prone to fire. In addition, climate fluctuations, such as droughts that occur in concert with El Niño events, can make the fires worse. During droughts, the typically soggy forest floor of these lowland forests dries out. The thick layer of dead vegetation on the forest floor, peat, becomes flammable and produces enormous quantities of smoke when it burns.
See also current media information on the haze situation in Southeast Asia:
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.
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)
Fire Activity Monitoring in Borneo (Kalimantan, Sabah, Sarawak)
The East Kalimantan Fire Management Agency (predecessor arrangement: Indonesian-German 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:
Latest fire overview map for Borneo: 14 October 2006 (Source: PKHL Fire Maps)
Fire Activity Monitoring in South Sumatra
The South Sumatra Forest Fire Management Project (SSFFMP) provides regular fire activity maps based on the products of the MODIS Rapid Response System.
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.
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)
WWF Fire Bulletin for South East Asia
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has resumed the periodic publication of the Fire Bulleting a weekly information on fire, haze, and related issues in Indonesia.