Hotspots Recorded in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea



Mahinda Arkyasa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) detected hotspots located in Southeast Asian countries and Papua New Guinea within the past week of August 2019.

    In a press release dated Saturday, August 10, 2019, the BMKG identifies at least 7,540 hotspots in the past week in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and other countries.

    Deputy of Meteorology of the BMKG PRabowo, said that the information concerning the hotspots was gathered from the BMKG's analysis based on images from the Terra Aqua Modis (NOAA) satellite, and the Himawari 8 (JMA) satellite.

    The increase in the number of hotspots was caused by dry atmospheric conditions and weather, causing plants to be easily combustible. Such weather needs to be taken into attention to prevent fires.

    BMKG's monitoring shows indications of increasing trends in the number of hotspots in different regions of ASEAN countries. Starting from August 3, 2019, BMKG noted an increase from 1,025 hotspots, to 1,139 hotspots in August 4, 2019.

    The number of hotspots continues to experience an increase until August 7, 2019, to as many as 1,585 hotspots. A decrease in the number of hotspots occurred on August 8, 2019, to a number of 1,178 hotspots. However, another increase was recorded in August 9, 2019, bringing the number to 2,002 hotspots.

    Concentration of the hotspots are among others, located in Indonesia, namely Riau, Central Kalimantan, and West Kalimantan. In addition, concentration of hotspots also detected in Serawak, Malaysia; Thailand; Cambodia; Vietnam, Myanmar; the Philippines; Singapore; Timor Leste; and Papua New Guinea.

    "During the dry season, the wind pattern dominantly originated from the southeast, cross border haze spread needs to be anticipated," Prabowo said.

    In relation to the cross-border haze issue on early August 2019, the BMKG stated that the haze occurring in Indonesia, especially in the region of Riau and Jambi does not experience any significant spreading to the Malaysia region.

    The Himawari-8 satellite showed that the haze in Sumatera did not reach the Malaysian air. Moreover, the satellite recorded an image of hotspots in the Malaysian peninsula on August 1, 2019, with stationary winds potentially causing hazy air in the region.

    To anticipate the condition, an early warning information system called the Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS) has been implemented to monitor potential weather conditions in the ASEAN region for the next seven days.

    The information system is essentially a map predicting the rate of fire susceptibility based on weather elements within the Southeast Asia region. For the upcoming week, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and a small region of Laos and Myanmar are predicted to be within the fire "vulnerable" category.

    Prabowo explained that currently, most part of Indonesia and some other ASEAN regions are experiencing the Australian monsoon phenomenon, in which the dry wind is blowing from the Southeast region.

    In addition, the current weather condition is affected by several weather phenomena, namely the negative sea surface temperature anomaly, especially on the south equatorial Indonesian waters; low intensity El Nino, which have been occurring since the end of 2018 and showing intentions of becoming neutral; and the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode.

    The abovementioned atmospheric and sea conditions resulted in a much drier dry season compared to 2018, causing peatlands to be easily burned.

    "Dry conditions followed by appearances of hotspots, which can turn into forest and land fire, will ultimately resulted in haze and lower air conditions. Therefore, there has to be prevention steps and anticipation to minimize the effects," Prabowo added.