GFMC: Meterological Conditions and Fire in South East Asia

SouthEast Asia

RegularFire and Weather Update

17 November 2006

Fires on Borneo and Sumatra


From mid-September through early November 2006, fires on the Indonesian islands Sumatra and Borneo churned out thick smoke that blanketed the islands and spread over the region. Photo-like images of the event showed gray haze mingling with clouds almost every day for weeks at a time. Smoke contains visible air pollutants, like soot, as well as invisible pollutants, like carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide and other fire pollutants can increase ground-level, “bad,” ozone.


21 September – 9 November 2006


This image shows average carbon monoxide concentrations at an altitude of about 3,000 meters between 21 September and November9  2006. The image is based on an average of approximately twice-daily observations collected by the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite. Places where the average carbon monoxide levels reached 300 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) are colored red, while the areas of lowest concentration are blue. Places where persistent clouds prevented the sensor from making measurements are colored gray. Pockets of high values hang over Sumatra and Borneo, but also occur over the mainland portions of Malaysia (north of Sumatra) as well as over parts of the South China Sea. Concentrations higher than 150 ppbv stretch over the Indian Ocean to the south and over Southeast Asia (top center).

The primary reason fires in this area generate so much smoke is that the lowland forests of the region are frequently swampy, which decreases the rate at which dead vegetation decomposes. Thick layers of un-decayed vegetation—peat—build up on the forest floor, and when the peat dries out enough, it becomes extremely flammable. When it burns, it produces copious smoke. Several factors can cause the peat to dry out, including naturally occurring droughts, such as those linked to El Ni&#ntilde;o events, and human activities, such as logging that opens the canopy to more sunlight. Despite ongoing efforts by the Indonesian government to control the agricultural burning that often leads to forest and peat swamp fire outbreaks, many fires are still started illegally. Fires can burn off and on from August until the rainy phase of the monsoon gets fully underway late in the year.



17 November 2006



See also current media information on the haze situation in Southeast Asia: 


UNOCHA: Indonesia: Fires and haze OCHA Situation Report No. 2 (published by UNOCHA, 10 October 2006)



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.


  • 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 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:

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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:


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)


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.


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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