El Nino from Indian Ocean causing haze

El Nino from Indian Ocean causing haze

11 October 2006

published by thestar.com.my

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia —  It is unfair for Malaysia to blame Indonesia for the latest haze situation, said a Malaysian researcher with the United Nations University in Tokyo. 

C.K. Tan attributed the haze to the El-Nino occurring in the Indian Ocean called the “Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)”. 

The IOD, he said, would cause severe droughts and it would easily lead to forest fires during the IOD year. 

As the dry condition continued due to IOD, the haze would be more serious. 

Tan, who comes from Penang, studied oceanographic condition at the eastern Indian Ocean including the Indian Ocean Dipole for his PhD at the Nagasaki University in Japan in March last year. 

Presently, he is using the Modis Aqua satellite images to monitor closely the development of IOD. 

“We shouldn’t simply blame the burning in Indonesia as the IOD causes severe drought throughout Indonesia. 

“During the southwest monsoon (May to September), the wind blows towards the northeast and this brings the haze to Malaysia,” he said in an e-mail reply to The Star yesterday. 

He said the IOD caused the change of wind direction at the southeastern part of the Indian Ocean and started to blow along the Java and southern Sumatra area. 

“This will lead to an oceanic phenomena called coastal upwelling. As the intensive coastal upwelling brings cold deep water to the surface, the temperature along the eastern Indian Ocean drops,” he said. 

Under normal conditions, he said, the sea surface temperature at the eastern Indian Ocean would be warmer than the west and the warm temperature would cause more rain on the eastern part. 

In 1997 and 1998, he said, the IOD occurred together with the Pacific El-Nino and the accumulation of both effects caused very severe drought in South-East Asia. 

He said the Meteorological Services Department had been informed about the IOD. 

Meanwhile, a Meteorological Services Department weather forecaster said there would be haze in Malaysia as long as the wind blows from the south. 

“In the southern part of the peninsula, the wind is blowing from the west and south-westerly, while in the northern part of the peninsula, the winds are blowing northwest. Any improvement on the haze will depend on changes in the wind direction over the next few days. 

“Since the wind over the eastern part of Sabah is blowing from the south, the haze there may continue. The areas that are badly affected are central and southern Peninsular Malaysia,” the forecaster said. 

He added that the northeast monsoon was expected in the beginning of November. 

“That is usually the trend. Later this week, rain is expected in the west coast of the peninsula and in Terengganu and Kelantan, although the rest of the east coast would generally see isolated rains. 

“The coastal areas of Sabah and Sarawak would also see rain, and this should definitely help ease the haze,” he said. 

The department had also carried out seven cloud seeding operations in Kuching since Oct 3, and four in the Klang Valley since Oct 6.


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