Current forest fires in Indonesia

Forest Fires in Indonesia

29 September 2015

Heavy smoke or haze from wildfires as seen on September 24 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Red outlines indicate hot spots where the sensor detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. Thick gray smoke hovers over both islands and has triggered air quality alerts and health warnings in Indonesia and neighboring countries. Visibility has plummeted.

“We are on a similar trajectory to other bad years,” said Robert Field, a Columbia University scientist based at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “Conditions in Singapore and southeastern Sumatra are tracking close to 1997, with some stations having visibility less than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) on average for a week. In Kalimantan, there have been reports of visibility less than 50 meters (165 feet).”

On 05 September 2015, the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this image of smoke pouring from fires burning in Jambi Province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Fires glow orange, and newly burned land is dark red. The blue smudges running diagonally across the image are smoke. Bare soil or older burn scars are a lighter shade of red. Clouds are white. The lower image shows a broader view of the area.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory 

The fact that the fires burned within well-defined rectangular grids suggests that these are agricultural fires that were intentionally set by growers.The fires are burning within a palm oil plantation. Palm oil production is highly profitable, and the commodity is an important export for Indonesia, the world’s largest producer. The Jakarta Post reported that heavy smoke produced by fires burning in Sumatra has caused levels of air pollution to spike throughout the island and in parts of Malaysia. This haze forced the Indonesian Government to close schools, caused respiratory problems to more than 13000 people, and killing three due to severe respiratory infections.


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