GLOBAL - Recent wildfires in Chile had a devastating impact on the country, its people and the environment.
At least 11 people were killed and thousands were forced from their homes, the town of Santa Olga was destroyed and more than 160,000 hectares of forest was razed.
The smoke plume generated by the fires stretched more than 2,000km out over the Pacific Ocean about the same distance as from Amsterdam to Moscow.
Scientists are using satellite imagery to learn more about smoke plumes and this work has potential benefits for human health, society and economies, as well as our understanding of the climate.
How the images are made
The Satellite Application Facility on Ozone and Atmospheric Chemistry Monitoring (O3M SAF), is one of eight EUMETSAT SAFs providing operational data and software products to a dedicated user community and application area.
Maurits Kooreman, of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and Junior Scientist working on the project for the SAF, produced the image (attached) of the smoke plume from the fires in Chile.
He used imagery from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME-2) instruments on EUMETSATs Metop-A and B satellites, overlaid on imagery from the MODIS imager onboard NASAs Terra satellite. The O3M SAF GOME-2 product shown is called the Absorbing Aerosol Index (AAI).
As fires produce soot, as well as water, the plumes consist of a mix of the two, Kooreman explains.
Possibly, the smoke particles in the plume are acting as condensation nuclei for the water vapour to condense on, producing a mix of soot and water droplets.
The colourful overlay in Figure 1 shows the AAI, distinguishing the soot particles from the water droplet cloud. The red values indicate an AAI of more than 3, where a value of 2 is already considered to indicate significant aerosol (fine particles in the air) presence.
Kooreman said the O3M SAF has been studying the smoke plume from the first day it was visible on satellite imagery 20 January and monitoring its progress and development in terms of the AAI.
It shows very well that fires cause smoke and water clouds and, in this case, we can see how the smoke and clouds are really mixed together. We use the AAI to distinguish regions where there is smoke and where there are clouds.
Who needs this information?
Dr Piet Stammes, Senior Scientist at KNMI and working in the O3M SAF as well, said the imagery demonstrates the meteorological processes taking place as a result of a very dramatic, deadly and environmentally damaging wildfire.
In principle, this information can be used by anyone who wants it but it is particularly important for the aviation community, which needs to know where the smoke is going, Stammes said.
The information is also used by the climate research community because this smoke is causing the absorption of solar radiation. Climate researchers want to establish the amount of radiation from the sun that is absorbed by the smoke.
So the information is used both for nowcasting a hazard and the climate research community.
Health, land use and climate why we monitor smoke from space
One of EUMETSATs key objectives is to monitor the atmospheric composition, not just smoke from fires but also more generally in terms of pollution, because of the potential, immediate health impacts and the long-term, global effect on the climate.
EUMETSAT Atmospheric Composition Calibration and Instrument Team Leader Dr Rüdiger Lang said if the fires were in the Mediterranean, rather than Chile, and the smoke plume was drifting over heavily populated areas, rather than over the ocean, there would be real implications for human health, not only from the fires themselves but also from the smoke.
The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service is using information like the AAI and other data from EUMETSAT to help model the behaviour of smoke plumes and pollution, so that how they travel and how they evolve can be forecast, like rain can be forecast, for example.
Lang points out that fires are not necessarily bad for vegetation they can be part of a natural cycle but more frequent fires, hotter temperatures and more droughts can have a lasting impact on vegetation and land use.
The aerosols created by biomass burning are released into the lower atmosphere, where they have a warming effect by absorbing and storing energy.
In this case, climate change can be both a precondition for, and a result of, changes in biomass burning frequency.
O3M SAF to become the Atmospheric Composition Monitoring SAF
From 1 March 2017, the O3M SAF will change its name to the Satellite Application Facility on Atmospheric Composition Monitoring (AC SAF).
The name change will better reflect the type of work the SAF carries out, Dr Stammes said.
The change illustrates a new phase and that our products are not only for the ozone community but also for the air quality and atmospheric composition community, he said.
More information on the AC SAFs activities and access to its data portfolio can be found at http://ac-saf.eumetsat.int.
Instruments used to monitor smoke plumes
Satellite instruments are used to measure different aspects of fires and smoke plumes: the particles, as discussed above; the chemical aspect, as fires create significant amounts of carbon monoxide; and fire radiative power.
Instruments onboard EUMETSATs low-earth-orbiting Metop-A and B satellites and geostationary Meteosat satellites currently measure these aspects and the capacity to do so will grow with the new and improved instruments to be carried on the next generation of these satellites, which are due to be launched within the next five years.
SINGAPORE, Feb 9 People in Singapore are willing to cough up nearly 1 per cent of their annual income in order to guarantee the absence of transboundary haze for a year, researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have found.
In total, they are willing to pay US$643.5 million (RM2.8 billion) a year large enough to make a substantive impact on the problem if used for land conservation and restoration, the researchers state in a paper published in Februarys issue of the journal,Environmental Research Letters.
The papers authors, Yuan Lin, Lahiru Wijedasa and Dr Ryan Chisholm, wrote: Our results indicate that Singaporeans experience sufficiently negative impacts of air pollution (in) their day-to-day life, or personal health during haze periods, that they are willing to trade off personal financial gain for improvements in air quality.
Transboundary haze is a long-standing problem in the South-east Asian region, largely caused by the drainage of carbon-rich peatland as well as companies and farmers in Indonesia using fire to clear land.
Singapore experienced its worst haze episode in 2015 from September to November, with the Pollutant Standards Index hitting hazardous levels.
Since then, Indonesia has renewed efforts to prevent fires, although a state of emergency was declared last month in Riau province over forest and land fires.
The economic impact of haze pollution here has been estimated using cost-benefit analysis before, but the researchers said that the figures could be an under-estimate because they exclude impacts such as non-hospitalisable health effects that are difficult to infer from economic data.
The 2015 haze episode was estimated to have cost Singapore S$700 million (RM2.19 billion) in losses.
The NUS researchers surveyed 390 people in public areas from November 2015 to February 2016 on their willingness to pay, should the Singapore Government be able to guarantee good air quality year-round.
The participants, from various age and income groups, were given options ranging from 0.05 per cent to 5 per cent of their annual income, after they indicated if they were willing to support such a haze mitigation fund.
The average persons willingness to pay was an estimated 0.97 per cent of his/her annual income.
However, about three in 10 respondents were unwilling to pay even the minimum option of 0.05 per cent of their annual income.
Wijedasa said that one of the solutions proposed for the haze problem is payments for ecosystem services.
This could take the form of richer nations aiding better land management and restoration by making regular payments.
Indonesia has estimated that it needs US$2.1 billion to help restore two million hectares of peatland in (the country). They have currently only received US$50 million from Norway and US$17 million from the United States.
“Could this shortfall be filled by Singapore (and other countries in the region)?
Tan Yi Han, who is not involved in the study and is co-founder of non-governmental organisation Peoples Movement to Stop Haze, said that the findings are helpful and should motivate the Singapore Government to spend on measures to prevent haze, such as a subsidy on certified sustainable palm oil, as well as aid to support peat restoration and protection efforts in Indonesia.
His organisations survey last year found that more than nine in 10 respondents were willing to pay more for certified sustainable products to help mitigate the haze, Tan said.
Most were willing to pay 5 to 10 per cent more.
Consumers game to chip in to avoid any haze include Steven Lim, who is in his 40s and self-employed. How much he is willing to contribute would depend on the amount needed to make an impact.
Maybe S$10? Multiplied by many individuals, it would be a lot, Lim said, preferring that the money goes to the Indonesian government.
– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/money/article/singaporeans-willing-to-fork-out-1pc-of-income-to-ensure-no-more-haze#sthash.CRhWHQHj.dpuf
El capitán del primer batallón de la Unidad Militar de Emergencias (UME), Emilio Arias, ha descrito como “dantescos” los efectos del incendio forestal en el paraje natural de la Sierra de Gata (Cáceres), aunque ha sido optimista en cuanto a su extinción al darse una situación “bastante favorable” en estos momentos. Fotogalería ALCALDE 11 Fotos La Sierra de Gata, tras el incendio “El incendio se dio por estabilizado y ahora mismo sólo hay pequeños focos que se reactivan por lo que la situación es bastante adecuada para intentar extinguir el fuego”, ha explicado Arias en una entrevista en COPE. Arias ha descrito como “dantesco” el efecto del fuego en una zona “donde el terreno era precioso”. El mando único del Plan Director del Infoex decidía este lunes mantener activo el Nivel 2 de peligrosidad en el incendio de Sierra de Gata ante las previsiones de viento y altas temperaturas. Las mismas predicciones indican que habrá una mejoría a partir de las primeras horas de la noche del lunes, según ha informado la Junta de Extremadura. Más de 200 efectivos se mantienen en la zona. Intentar llegar a la normalidad es “un tanto difícil”, y que ahora hay que hacer valoraciones de los daños El incendio declarado el pasado jueves ha arrasado unas 7.500 hectáreas de alto valor agrícola, ambiental y paisajístico, de ahí que el Gobierno regional haya iniciado ya la evaluación de los daños y comenzado a preparar la recuperación de la zona. El director general de Medio Ambiente, Pedro Muñoz, ha afirmado que el incendio ha causado un “desastre” desde el punto de vista medioambiental ya que ha arrasado miles de hectáreas de pinar, olivar y pastos, además de haber producido cuantiosos daños materiales en algunas poblaciones. La asociación conservacionista SEO/Birdlife ha denunciado que el incendio afectó gravemente a especies amenazadas y a espacios protegidos de la Red Natura 2000, incluidos robledales, madroñales y castañares centenarios. Todo el área afectada es una zona ornitólogica de interés mundial. Por su parte, el alcalde de la localidad cacereña de Hoyos, Óscar Antúnez, ha alabado la participación ciudadana en el municipio para ayudar a los operarios del plan Infoex como “lo bonito dentro de la tragedia” y ha añadido que el “sentir general” de los ciudadanos de Sierra de Gata es de “frustración e indignación” tras el incendio forestal. El alcalde ha señalado que ha podido hablar con los vecinos de la localidad y que los “más afectados” son los que han perdido fincas o casas de campo, sobre todo una familia que ha perdido su domicilio de vacaciones habitual, que era una casa “recién reformada”. Asimismo, Óscar Antúnez ha indicado que intentar llegar a la normalidad es “un tanto difícil”, y que ahora hay que hacer valoraciones de los daños, tanto la Mancomunidad de Municipios de Sierra de Gata como la Junta de Extremadura, para ver qué ayudas se pueden proporcionar y de qué modo, además de cuáles serán los medios disponibles. Por último, el primer edil de Hoyos ha explicado que los vecinos, “más allá de la lamentación”, deben intentar hacer “una vida normal”, aunque ha considerado que es muy difícil “dado el paisaje que tenemos”, ya que casi el 90% del término municipal está calcinado, ha indicado.