Scientists in Singapore seeking to beat next year’s haze

Scientists in Singapore seeking to beat next year’s haze

17 November 2006

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Singapore — Scientists in Singapore are seeking ways to make rain amid warnings that the smokey haze from burning Indonesian fires may be far worse next year, news reports said on Friday.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) is planning a feasibility study on cloud seeding with chemicals sprayed onto clouds to induce rain.

Experts told The Straits Times there are obstacles including ensuring that the seeded clouds actually end up raining over an area as small as the city-state.

Another difficulty is in ‘attempting to quantify the extra rainfall generated by the seeding,’ Associate Professor David Higgit with the National University of Singapore was quoted as saying.

‘If there are no clouds, then there is not anything one can do by this method,’ added Professor Neville Fletcher of the Australian National University.

The recent haze in the city-state from the land-clearing fires was the worst in nine years, prompting health officials to urge Singaporeans to stay indoors and turn on their air conditioners.

Many suffered breathing difficulties, running eyes and coughs.

Experts have warned the El Nino effect may greatly intensify the haze next year, resulting in a very unhealthy level of pollutants in the air.

An NEA spokesman said its new study will take into account the advances made in the field of cloud seeding, including improved radar technology and high-performance aircraft.

Malaysia and Indonesia have seeded clouds to reduce haze in the past. The Malaysian state of Sarawak bore the brunt of the recent haze from Indonesia’s adjoining province of Kalimantan.

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