Malaysia may try inducing rain as hazy skies return

Malaysia may try inducing rain as hazy skies return

18 July 2006

published by The Jakarta Post

Air quality has reached unhealthy levels in parts of Malaysia and could
worsen in coming months due to dry weather land-clearing fires in nearby
Indonesia, an official and media said Wednesday.Malaysia is considering
cloud-seeding to try inducing rain, news reports said.

The Air Pollution Index or API breached the 100-point mark to hit the
“unhealthy” level late Tuesday in areas of the northern states of Perak and
Penang, and in part of central Selangor state, the Meteorological
Department’s Web site said.

The haze often occurs during the region’s midyear dry season, when farmers
– some in Malaysia but most in Indonesia’s Sumatra island – set illegal
brush fires to clear land for planting. Last year, air pollution reached
such critical levels that a state of emergency was declared in Malaysia.
Singapore and Thailand have also expressed concern about the burning.

Officials said satellite images showed 150 “hot spots,” indicating large
peat fires, on Sumatra and more than 130 in Kalimantan Island. Sumatra lies
across the narrow Malacca Strait from Peninsula Malaysia, while Kalimantan
adjoins two Malaysian states.

Visibility in a number of districts in the northern states of Penang and
Perak, hovered at about two kilometers, said Malaysia’s principal assistant
director for forecast, Wong Teck Kiong. Information on Wednesday’s API
levels was not immediately available.

The forecasting department’s Director General Yap Kok Seng was quoted as
saying by both the New Straits Times and The Star newspapers that dry
conditions could worsen the situation in the next few months.

“We are also prepared to carry out cloud seeding” if air quality levels
stay unhealthy for three days or more, Yap was quoted as saying.

Penang state Meteorological Services Department Director S. Santhira
Segaran said in the reports that a short rainy spell expected this week
will not alleviate the haze unless the number of fires in Indonesia is
brought under control. Yap and Santhira could not be immediately reached
for comment. Neighboring countries have repeatedly complained to Indonesia
about the fires over the past decade, and offered various forms of help.

Economically struggling Indonesia says it lacksresources to fight the fires
and enforce anti-burning laws. (**)

Related News : Haze make air quality “unhealthy” in parts of Malaysia
Other perspectives: Singapore says air quality will not reach unhealthy
levels during haze


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