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 (http://www.antara.co.id/en/seenws/?id=16593) Other perspectives: Singapore says air quality will not reach unhealthy levels during haze (http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/7/20/apworld/20060720113918&sec=apworld)