Forest Fire Mitigation; BPPT Sets to Modify Weather in Riau

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  • Fire fighters try to extinguish a fire at a peatland in Kampar, Riau province, Indonesia, September 24, 2019. Forest fires in Jambi, Indonesia, turn the sky red, making it look like Mars. The forests burn every year during the dry season, but this is the first time the sky turned red and the air quality is now too dangerous for people. Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman

    Fire fighters try to extinguish a fire at a peatland in Kampar, Riau province, Indonesia, September 24, 2019. Forest fires in Jambi, Indonesia, turn the sky red, making it look like Mars. The forests burn every year during the dry season, but this is the first time the sky turned red and the air quality is now too dangerous for people. Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman

    TEMPO.CO, Pekanbaru - The Weather Modification Technology Center (BBTMC) of the Technology Assessment and Application Agency (BPPT) has deployed a team to carry out weather modification operations or TMC in Riau province as the mitigation of land and forest fire in the region.

    The TMC team supported by the Air Force would conduct artificial rain operations to moisten peatlands and fill water reservoirs aimed to prevent fire incidents.

    “This year’s TMC operations are part of precautionary efforts against land and forest fire in Riau that based on the historical fluctuations, the number of hotspots increased in March, and its peak is in August to September,” said the BBTMC head Tri Handoko Seto in Riau, Wednesday, March 11.

    According to Tri, not only expected to combat hotspots that indicate fires, the TMC operation was aimed at maintaining the peatlands’ humidity.

    The TMC operation head Budi Harsoyo said his side had developed an early warning system dubbed Online Monitoring System for Peatland Water Content or SMOKIES by installing several instruments to measure the weather and hydrology, such as Automatic Weather Station (AWS) and an ultrasonic sensor.

    “The two instruments function as a measurement of weather parameter and water level of peatlands up to 1.5-meter deep, and the data is transmitted real-time to the server at BPPT every one hour,” said Budi. He hoped the instruments could be added as a monitoring effort of peatlands’ water level in several provinces that are prone to land fire.

    The TMC post for Riau forest fire mitigation was established at Roesman Nurjadin Air Base, Pekanbaru with the help of military aircraft CASA 212. “We will begin the first operation today,” said BBTMC field coordinator Dwipa R. Soehoed, adding that the cost was covered by National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and Riau Province Disaster Mitigation (BPBD).

    ERWIN PRIMA