Haze creeps into unhealthy range as Sumatra hot spots spike

Today Online 3 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE — Haze readings, which edged into the unhealthy range yesterday afternoon and continued climbing into the night, are expected to be in the high end of the moderate range or low end of the unhealthy range today.

At 3pm yesterday, the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index breached the unhealthy mark and readings edged up steadily to hit 127 by 9pm, before receding slightly to 126 at 10pm. Any reading over 100 up to 200 is considered unhealthy.

The PM2.5 — tiny particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter — levels were also elevated in most regions, with one-hour concentrations ranging from 59 to 82 micrograms per cubic metre at 5pm, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). A 24-hour PM2.5 reading of between 56 and 150 is considered unhealthy.

In an update posted on its website at 5pm yesterday, the NEA said the haziness was smoke blown in by prevailing southerly winds from Sumatra, whose southern part has experienced drier weather, leading to a “sharp increase” in the number of hot spots there. A total of 205 hot spots were detected in Sumatra yesterday, it added.

Last Tuesday, the NEA had said the threat of serious haze appeared to have been averted for the rest of the year, with the onset of the Inter-Monsoon season over the past week signalling the end of the traditional dry period in the region. The Inter-Monsoon period normally lasts from October to November, and is characterised by more rainfall and light winds that are variable in direction.

More than 1,800 hotspots in Indonesia as haze intensifies

Haze from forest and plantation fire in Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra have intensified, as more than 1,500 hotspots were detected in the two Indonesian provinces.

The Terra Satellite recorded 1,225 hotspots in Central Kalimantan, 344 in South Sumatra, 203 in West Kalimantan, 32 in East Kalimantan and 20 in Lampung on Sunday morning, said Mr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of Indonesia disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) in a text message to reporters.

In Palembang, South Sumatra visibility fell to 400m at 6am on Sunday.

Haze from South Sumatra was blown to Jambi and Riau, Indonesia's second closest province to Singapore, Mr Sutopo said.

Clearing land by slashing and burning was behind the fires that burned uncontrolled.

Efforts by BNPB to contain the fires have continued, with helicopters, aircraft being deployed in firefighting and cloud seeding operations.

There have been 10,032 water bombing trips involving 24.4 million litres of water to contain fire these past months. Cloud seeding operations have involved 67 tonnes of chemicals to induce rain.

3hr PSI reading crosses into unhealthy range at 3pm
Channel NewsAsia 2 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE: The Republic's air quality reached unhealthy levels on Sunday (Nov 2), after days of relatively clear skies. The three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit a high of 127 at 9pm before inching down to 126 at 10pm.

The three-hour PSI reading moved up sharply after 11am, edging past 100 to 104 at 3pm, after it remained below 70 for the previous few hours.

Last month, the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) had said that there will likely be more rain over Singapore and the surrounding region in the coming weeks, when the traditional dry season comes to an end for the year, but added that Singapore may experience occasional slight haze, on some days due to the accumulation of particulate matter in the air under light wind conditions.

"The Inter-Monsoon period normally lasts from October to November, and is characterised by more rainfall and light winds that are variable in direction. The increased rainfall will help alleviate the hotspot and haze situation in Sumatra and Kalimantan," said the MSS.

- CNA/av