Wildfire hits forest on Mt. Agung in Karangasem


Wildfire hits forest on Mt. Agung in Karangasem

03 September 2012

published by www.thejakartapost.com


Indonesia– Wildfire has hit around 200 hectares of pine forest on the slopes of Bali’s most sacred, and highest, volcano, Mount Agung, in Karangasem, east Bali.

The fires, which started Friday night in six hot spots, strengthened and spread as a strong wind blew and could be clearly seen from the neighboring island, Lombok.

“At first, we thought that Mount Agung had erupted. The flames were obviously visible from here in Mataram,” said Subagyo, a resident of Mataram.

Karangasem regent Wayan Geredeg was seen on site calling for immediate support to extinguish the fires from the provincial and central governments.

“We need modern and high-tech equipment to stop the forest fires,” the regent said.

A helicopter sent by the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) had already arrived at the location, but only to monitor the condition of the hot spots.

The fires mostly affected the eastern part of the mountain in the vicinity of Bankubu and Jungutan villages.

Mount Agung is sacred to the Balinese people, who believe it is the replica of Mount Mery, the central axis of the universe. The island’s mother temple, Pura Besakih, is located high on the slope of Mount Agung.

The volcano last erupted during 1963-1964 and is still active.

In addition to its religious importance, Mount Agung is also an excellent habitat for the island’s Bali Starling, which is an endangered species, as well as other animals and medicinal plants.

I Gede Jaya Serataberana, head of Bali’s Disaster Management Agency, explained that technically the helicopter could not approach the hotspots. “It was too dangerous,” he said.

Geredeg predicted that the forest fires had been caused by the current dry season, which started in August.

“There is the possibility of human error. The area is dry and dry tree trunks can feed serious fires in this windy and hot weather,” the regent said.

Hundreds of volunteers, nature lovers, members of the army, paramedics and rescue teams were ready to help evacuate locals possibly trapped in the fires.

On Sunday morning at 9 a.m., Tjokorda Darma, a rescue leader from Karangasem, said that the number of volunteers was increasing. “They came from Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Dozens of university students have also arrived here,” Dharma said.

Around 100 volunteers had just climbed to the mountain’s six hot spots to search for any residents and to extinguish the fires manually. “It will take at least three hours to reach the nearest hot spot,” he said.

Officers and volunteers struggled to extinguish the fires in two of the hot spots, with hot weather, strong winds and dried out trunks and trees hampering their efforts.

Meanwhile, Denpasar’s Search and Rescue team monitored the forest fire locations saying that it would be ineffective to use manual techniques to extinguish the fires.

“The fires have struck pine forests in which the height of the trees is between four to five meters. It would be hazardous to let volunteers and the fire brigade extinguish the fires manually,” explained Dewa Made Indra, head of Bali’s Basarnas.

On Sunday afternoon, fires were still burning in four spots near Kubu village.When the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCpWithin 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCpWhen the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Within 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles. “For the first time we were able to measure these warming effects minute-by-minute as the fire progressed,” said CIRES scientist Dan Lack, lead author of the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers also were able to record a phenomenon called the “lensing effect,” in which oils from the fire coat the soot particles and create a lens that focuses more light onto the particles. This can change the “radiative balance” in an area, sometimes leading to greater warming of the air and cooling of the surface. While scientists had previously predicted such an effect and demonstrated it in laboratory experiments, the Boulder researchers were one of the first to directly measure the effect during an actual wildfire. Lack and his colleagues found that lensing increased the warming effect of soot by 50 to 70 percent. “When the fire erupted on Labor Day, so many researchers came in to work to turn on instruments and start sampling that we practically had traffic jams on the road into the lab,” Lack said. “I think we all realized that although this was an unfortunate event, it might be the best opportunity to collect some unique data. It turned out to be the best dataset, perfectly suited to the new instrument we had developed.” The instrument called a spectrophotometer can capture exquisite detail about all particles in the air, including characteristics that might affect the smoke particles’ tendency to absorb sunlight and warm their surroundings. While researchers know that overall, wildfire smoke can cause this lensing effect, the details have been difficult to quantify, in part because of sparse observations of particles from real-world fires. Once the researchers began studying the data they collected during the fire, it became obvious that the soot from the wildfire was different in several key ways from soot produced by other sources—diesel engines, for example. “When vegetation burns, it is not as efficient as a diesel engine, and that means some of the burning vegetation ends up as oils,” Lack said. In the smoke plume, the oils coated the soot particles and that microscopic sheen acted like a magnifying glass, focusing more light onto the soot particles and magnifying the warming of the surrounding air. The researchers also discovered that the oils coating the soot were brown, and that dark coloration allowed further absorption of light, and therefore further warming the atmosphere around the smoke plume. The additional warming effects mean greater heating of the atmosphere enveloped in dark smoke from a wildfire, and understanding that heating effect is important for understanding climate change, Lack said. The extra heating also can affect cloud formation, air turbulence, winds and even rainfall. The discovery was made possible by state-of-the-art instruments developed by CIRES, NOAA and other scientists, Lack said. The instruments can capture fine-scale details about particles sent airborne by the fire, including their composition, shape, size, color and ability to absorb and reflect sunlight of various wavelengths. “With such well-directed measurements, we can look at the warming effects of soot, the magnifying coating and the brown oils and see a much clearer, yet still smoky picture of the effect of forest fires on climate,” Lack said. CIRES is a cooperative institute of CU-Boulder and NOAA.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCp


 

 

 

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