Singapore at ‘moderate risk’ of severe haze in 2019: Report
SINGAPORE — There is a "moderate risk" that Singapore will see a severe haze this year, similar to the one last seen in 2015. The forecast is based on an inaugural haze outlook report by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).
SINGAPORE — There is a "moderate risk" that Singapore will see a severe haze this year, similar to the one last seen in 2015.
The forecast is based on an inaugural haze outlook report by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).
The think-tank launched the Haze Outlook for Southern Asean Summary Report on Thursday (May 2) at the 6th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources Conference, held at the Fullerton Hotel Singapore.
The full report will be available on SIIA’s website later this month.
The haze cloaked large parts of South-east Asia in 2015, with the Pollutant Standards Index hitting hazardous levels in Singapore between September and November that year.
The report aims to serve as a risk assessment and predictive tool for regional countries to determine if the haze could return to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore during the mid-year dry season.
Professor Simon Tay, chairman of SIIA, said: “For the past few years, there have been blue skies, but it continues to be important to understand why this has happened, and to continue efforts to achieve better outcomes even as climatic and other factors change.
“We hope that our (report) will keep stakeholders focused on the risks and reinforce efforts to prevent the recurrence of severe haze.”
While current haze risk assessments depend on meteorological forecasts, this is the first effort to use both quantitative meteorological data and qualitative assessment of intervention on the ground to predict haze.
It considers factors such as the weather, geographical location of previous fires and efforts by government and private sectors to reduce fires when determining the severity of haze.
It ranks the possibility of transboundary haze — similar to the ones that occurred in 1997 and 2015 — occurring on a scale of green, amber and red.
Green indicates a low risk of transboundary haze occurring, amber indicates a moderate risk, while red indicates a high risk.
The summary report noted that the severe haze episodes in 1997 and 2015 were exacerbated by El Nino, a phenomenon involving the warming of the central and eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean. This occurs every three to seven years, leading to shifts in global weather patterns.
While 2019 is forecast to be an El Nino year, its effect is not expected to be as strong as in past years.
The study also noted that Indonesia has restored some 679,000 hectares of peatland — partially decayed plant matter — and the efforts appear to be effective in reducing the number of fires compared to 2015.
Degraded peatlands had been the primary sites of fires in 1997 and 2015.
The report also noted that since 2015, Indonesia’s government agencies and agroforestry companies had intensified engagements with village communities, and strengthened fire prevention, detection and suppression capabilities.
Professor Tay said that SIIA plans to release the outlook on a yearly basis and will include more feedback from a variety of government agencies, companies, academic institutes and non-governmental organisations in future reports.