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Red skies over Jambi due to high concentration of pollutants, says Indonesia’s Met agency

JAKARTA — The Indonesian meteorology agency said on Sunday (Sept 22) that a phenomenon called Mie scattering had resulted in red skies over the country’s Jambi province over the weekend.

Red skies over Jambi due to high concentration of pollutants, says Indonesia’s Met agency

The red skies emerged against the backdrop of a worsening haze situation caused by forest fires in Indonesia. Central Sumatra, where Jambi is located, is home to many haze hot spots.

JAKARTA — The Indonesian meteorology agency said on Sunday (Sept 22) that a phenomenon called Mie scattering had resulted in red skies over the country’s Jambi province over the weekend.

The red skies emerged against the backdrop of a worsening haze situation caused by forest fires in Indonesia. Central Sumatra, where Jambi is located, is home to many haze hot spots.

Explaining the phenomenon, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that sunlight had been scattered by aerosols, which are micro particles that float in the air.

Scattering occurs when the diameter of aerosol particles is similar to the wavelength of visible sunlight, or red light which has a wavelength of 0.7 micrometres.

The agency’s data showed that the concentration of pollutant particles measuring less than 10 micrometres was “very high” in the areas of Jambi, Palembang and Pekanbaru. Both Palembang and Pekanbaru are located in Sumatra.

However, only the sky in the regency of Muaro Jambi had turned red.

“This means air pollutants there have a high concentration of 0.7 micrometre particles,” the agency said.

Indonesian astronomer Marufin Sudibyo believes that the phenomenon is caused by Rayleigh scattering, which is similar to Mie scattering but involves smaller particles.

"Rayleigh scattering happens when sunlight is dispersed by smoke, dust or airborne particles that filter shorter wavelengths and release longer wavelengths that are in the orange or red spectrum, making the area appear to be dim and red," he said.

Over the weekend, the skies over Muaro Jambi district had turned orange-red, leading to residents there sharing many videos and photos on social media.

Twitter user Zuni Shofi Yatun Nisa said: “This is afternoon, not night. This is Earth, not Mars. This is Jambi, not outer space. We are breathing with lungs, not gills. We humans need clean air, not smoke.”

Sharing a video from his friend, another Twitter user Rizal Wahid wrote: “This is noon. Come on, let’s stop arguing for a moment. There are hundreds of thousands of human lives at stake.”

Indonesia has been battling haze in the last month due to forest and peat fires.

President Joko Widodo had called for stern actions against individuals and companies responsible for forest fires during a visit to the Riau province last week.

Indonesian media also reported the deployment of helicopters to water-bomb hot spots in South Sumatra province since Sunday.

The haze has also not spared neighbouring countries, with schools in Malaysia shutting due to unhealthy air quality and flights being cancelled due to poor visibility.

In Singapore, hazy skies were also seen over the past week, although as of 9pm on Monday the 24-hr Pollutant Standards Index stood at a “moderate” range.

Related topics

Indonesia haze meteorology red sky Jambi pollution forest fire

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