Malaysia: Haze hits Sarawak

Mohd Roji Kawi New Straits Times 15 Aug 18;

KUCHING: At least five areas in Sarawak recorded moderate Air Pollution Index (API) readings this morning.

This follows the presence of haze in Kuching, Serian, Sibu, Mukah and Bintulu.

Hot weather that has persisted for more than a week is made worse with the peat fire in Daro, central Sarawak.

Cross border haze from Kalimantan is also affecting the state's air quality.

As of this morning, hundreds of hotspots have been detected in west Kalimantan near the Malaysia-Indonesia border, among them in Singkawang and Sambas.

Based on the latest API readings on the Department of Environment's website, Kuching recorded 56, Serian (51), Sibu (66), Mukah (75) and Bintulu (70).

Local wildfires under control, but Kalimantan hotspots a worry
stephen then The Star 15 Aug 18;

MIRI: Satellite images obtained by Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department are showing worsening wildfires in Kalimantan, resulting in smog being blown into the state.

Firemen in Sarawak are also battling several wildfires in Mukah, Bintulu and Bintangor.

Some 10 acres of wildfires have been burning since Tuesday (Aug 14) evening in Kg Assykirin in Bintulu.

In Mukah, peat fires in Daro are being extinguished, while in Bintangor, wildfires have been contained.

Sarawak Bomba in its latest updates said firemen were on the ground to contain local wildfires but the main worry now was the transboundary haze from the dozens of hotspots raging in west Kalimantan.

A change in wind direction is believed to have blown the haze across the border into Sarawak.

Dozens of hotspot clusters, appearing as red dots on satellite images, have been detected in western Kalimantan

A hotspot signifies a fire that is at least one sq km in size, thus making it big enough to be detected by satellite hovering 100km above earth.

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Indonesia promises haze-free Asian Games

Marguerite Afra Sapiie The Jakarta Post 14 Aug 18;

The government is determined to carry out all necessary measures to prevent forest and land fires from spreading on the island of Sumatra, as the Asia Games are set to kick off on Aug. 18 in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra, at the peak of the dry season.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto held a meeting on Tuesday with relevant officials, discussing anticipatory measures to address the potential increase in hot spots.

"Learning from our experience [...] and with solid coordination [among stakeholders] as well as proper procedures in both prevention and mitigation, all regions are prepared to mitigate potential forest fires," Wiranto said on Tuesday.

"We need to work hard to ensure that South Sumatra will be haze-free. Weather forecasts say that the peak of the dry season will happen during the Asian Games," he added.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) detected 169 hot spots in Sumatra Island on Tuesday with 47 hot spots in South Sumatra alone. Riau recorded an increase in hot spots to 90 from 65 in the previous day while there were 11 hot spots in Jambi and 55 hot spots in Bangka Belitung province.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry's director general of climate change, Ruandha Agung Sugadirman, said a coordinated team comprising relevant officials, including police and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel, routinely carried out patrols in areas prone to forest fires.

Sixteen helicopters have been on standby across South Sumatra and can be deployed for water bombing at any time when forest fires are detected. Another 10 helicopters are also on standby in Riau, Ruandha said.

The government has also used 51 tons of salt to intensify cloud-seeding operations to help stimulate rainfall since May, he said, adding that rain had fallen in the province from Monday evening to Tuesday morning.

"As long as the land and peatlands are wet, fires will not occur," Ruandha said. (rin)

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Indonesia: Bosf to release 10 orangutans to Bukit Baka national park

Antara 15 Aug 18;

Palangka Raya, C. Kalimantan, (ANTARA News) - The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) of Nyaru Menteng will release 10 orangutans to Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park (TNBBBR).

"The 10 orangutans are three male and seven female aged between 13 to 16 years old. They will take a 10 to 12-hour tour via land and river route from Nyaru Menteng to the selected points in the national park," CEO of BOSF Nyaru Menteng Jamartin Sihite said here on Tuesday.

The 10 orangutans will add the orangutan population in the national park to 102, since the first release of rehabilitated orangutans two years ago in August 2016.

"August has a special meaning for us. When Indonesia celebrates its independence day, we at the same time also celebrate Orangutan Day. So we want to dedicate this month as `the month of orangutan freedom`" he continued.

Head of Central Kalimantan Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Adib Gunawan said, conservation would need the involvement of all stakeholders.

Hence, he said, the agency will continue to cooperate with TNBBBR, BOSF and other related institutions to release orangutans.

He called on the public to take an active role in natural resource conservation.

"Orangutan for instance, the only great apes in Asia, has played an important role in its habitat. It is the main reason why we have to protect our forest," he remarked.

Reporting by Rendhik Andika
Editing by Sri Haryati , A Abdussalam

Editor: Fardah Assegaf

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Extreme temperatures 'especially likely for next four years'

Cyclical natural phenomena that affect planet’s climate will amplify effect of manmade global warming, scientists warn
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 14 Aug 18;

The world is likely to see more extreme temperatures in the coming four years as natural warming reinforces manmade climate change, according to a new global forecasting system.

Following a summer of heatwaves and forest fires in the northern hemisphere, the study in the journal Nature Communications suggests there will be little respite for the planet until at least 2022, and possibly not even then.

Rising greenhouse gas emissions are steadily adding to the upward pressure on temperatures, but humans do not feel the change as a straight line because the effects are diminished or amplified by phases of natural variation.

From 1998 to 2010, global temperatures were in a “hiatus” as natural cooling (from ocean circulation and weather systems) offset anthropogenic global warming. But the planet has now entered almost the opposite phase, when natural trends are boosting man-made effects.

“Everything seems to be adding up,” said the author of the paper, Florian Sévellec of the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “There is a high possibility that we will be at the peak of a warm phase for the next couple of years.”

The scientist built his forecasting system by statistical “hind-casting”. This crunches the data from previous climate models to measure which combination was most effective in predicting past temperature trends.

Based on this analysis, Sévellec says the statistical upward nudge from natural variation this year is twice as great of that of long-term global warming. Next year, it is likely to be three times higher.

He cautions that this should not be seen as a prediction that Europe will definitely have more heatwaves, the US more forest fires, South Africa more drought or the Arctic more ice melt. The likelihood of these events will increase, but his model is on a broad global scale. It does not predict which part of the world will experience warming or in which season.

But his data clearly suggests that water in the oceans will warm faster than air above land, which could raise the risks of floods, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones.

“Natural variability is a wriggle around the freight train that is global warming,” he says. “On a human scale, it is what we feel. What we don’t always feel is global warming. As a scientist, this is frightening because we don’t consider it enough. All we can do it give people information and let them make up their own mind.”

He said his model should not be seen as the final word, but be taken alongside other forecasting systems, including those that look in more detail at what is happening on a regional level.

Dr Sam Dean, chief climate scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said the paper indicated mankind will have to rely less on “fortuitously cool years” from natural processes. Instead of the cooling La Niñas experienced in the first decade of the century, he said there have been more warming El Niños since 2014 and this trend looks set to continue.

“While we can’t be sure exactly how things will play out, at the moment the odds are higher for hot years,” he said.

Other scientists praised the paper but concurred on the need for wider analysis. “The findings suggest it’s more likely we’ll get warmer years than expected in the next few years. But their method is purely statistical, so it’s important to see what climate models predict based on everything we know about the atmosphere and the oceans. Those are more expensive to run but also use more climate physics and observational information,” said Prof Gabi Hegerl of Edinburgh University.

Professor James Renwick of Victoria University of Wellington said the new forecasting system was clever, but its value will only be clear in the future. The broader trend, however, was clear.

“If the warming trend caused by greenhouse gas emissions continues, years like 2018 will be the norm in the 2040s, and would be classed as cold by the end of the century,” he wrote.

Next few years 'may be exceptionally warm'
BBC 14 Aug 18;

The next few years could be "anomalously warm", according to a new study.

Researchers have developed a mathematical model to predict how average global surface air temperatures will vary over the next few years.

The results suggest that the period from 2018 to 2022 could see an increased likelihood of extreme temperatures.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

The warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 is not increasing at a perfectly steady rate.

In the early years of the 21st Century, scientists pointed to a hiatus in warming. But several analyses show that the five warmest years on record all have taken place since 2010.

These variations from year-to-year do not affect the long-term trend in warming temperatures.

Now, a new method for trying to predict global temperatures suggests the next few years will be hotter than expected.

Rather than using traditional climate simulation techniques, Florian Sévellec, from the CNRS in Brest, France, and Sybren S Drijfhout, from the University of Southampton, developed a statistical method to search through simulations of climatic conditions in the 20th and 21st Century and look for situations that are comparable to the present day.

Future possibilities

The team then used these climatic "analogues" to deduce future possibilities.

In particular, the anomalous warmth predicted over the next few years is due to a low probability of intense cold climatic events.

Once the algorithm is "learned" (a process which takes a few minutes), predictions are obtained in a few hundredths of a second on a laptop. In comparison, supercomputers require a week using traditional simulation methods.

Gabi Hegerl, professor of climate system science at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved with the study, said: "The authors have tried to predict whether global climate variability will make the next years warmer or cooler overall than the mean warming trend. They have skilfully used worldwide climate model data for previous years to calculate probabilities for the next few years.

"The findings suggest it's more likely we'll get warmer years than expected in the next few years.

"But their method is purely statistical, so it's important to see what climate models predict based on everything we know about the atmosphere and the oceans. Those are more expensive to run but also use more climate physics and observational information.

She added: "These new predictions are not geared up at the moment to predict regional trends such as the hot summer this year; so they may predict how likely it is to have a global record warm year, but not a regional record summer like we've had in the UK."

For the moment, the method only yields an overall average, but scientists now would like to adapt it to make regional predictions and, in addition to temperatures, estimate rain and drought trends.

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