Johan Setia peatfires cause of Klang, Shah Alam haze


 
07 August 2017

published by http://www.thestar.com.my


Malaysia / Indonesia - SHAH ALAM: The seasonal haze from Sumatra has yet to hit Malaysian shores, but residents in Shah Alam and Klang are already suffering from thick smog engulfing their homes.

"The smog is so acrid that we can taste the sourness and bitterness in the air," said Kota Kemuning resident Lim Teck Wyn, 42.

The issue has plagued the community since the early 2000. Residents say open burning is a year-long problem that has worsened recently due to the dry season.

"It's most noticeable at night and goes off by morning (after the fire extinguishes) as if nothing happened," said J. Loh, a Kota Kemuning resident of 10 years.

The 43-year-old said they have to shut the windows and rely on air-conditioning, leading to an increase in electricity bills.

Similar views were shared by another resident, Karen Lee, who said her 13 and 15-year-old sons developed chronic bronchitis over the years due to the bad haze.

“The situation has improved compared to 2008 and 2014 after the Selangor government intervened, but we fear that it will worsen again if there are no proactive measures to contain the fires,” said the 45-year-old.

The source of the haze is the peat fires in Johan Setia, a residential area surrounded by peatland in Klang that is used for agriculture.

Plantation workers there are known to practice the slash-and-burn farming method where they set fire to the farms, bushes, and forest reserves to clear land for new crops like ginger and sweet potato.

During a site visit to Kampung Batu Tujuh near Kota Kemuning last week, The Star found pockets of smoke billowing from several spots in the ground across a farm off a main road.

Hectares of peatland had already been scorched with burnt wood and crops littered across the farm, a sign that the activity had been ongoing for some time.

A barrel containing petrol and a water jug were found next to a shed, believed to have been used to start the fire.

The burning took place directly behind a signboard of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry informing of the prohibition on open burning with a warning that offenders will face a RM500,000 fine, five years in jail or both.

Lim, who is an environmental consultant, says peat soil is highly-flammable as it is a dense accumulation of decomposed vegetation. Hence, peat fires can easily spread like wildfire.

He points out that the slash-and-burn practice in Johan Setia is similar to farming practices in Indonesia that caused the seasonal haze in Malaysia.

“How can we be mad and blame the Indonesians for the haze when we are doing the same in our own backyard,” Lim said.

According to the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department, 378 cases of open burning were reported in July, including bush fires, plantation fires, forest fires and rubbish fires.

Department assistant operations director Mohd Sani Hasrul warned that the embers in peat soil are dangerous fire hazards as the fire can quickly spread when they are carried by the wind.

“We have warned the public many times not to conduct open burning, especially in the forest reserve. However, the problem persists,” said Sani.

When contacted, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that his Ministry is equally concerned of the issue as the haze affects Johan Setia, Klang, Jalan Kebun, KESAS Highway, Bandar Puteri, Bandar Putera and Kota Kemuning.

“This open burning always occurs during the dry season and is being carried out by immigrants who have been employed by the land owners,” said Wan Junaidi.

An international team of climate researchers from the US, South Korea and the UK has developed a new wildfire and drought prediction model for southwestern North America. Extending far beyond the current seasonal forecast, this study published in the journal Scientific Reports could benefit the economies with a variety of applications in agriculture, water management and forestry.

Over the past 15 years, California and neighboring regions have experienced heightened conditions and an increase in numbers with considerable impacts on human livelihoods, agriculture, and terrestrial ecosystems. This new research shows that in addition to a discernible contribution from natural forcings and human-induced global warming, the large-scale difference between Atlantic and Pacific ocean temperatures plays a fundamental role in causing droughts, and enhancing wildfire risks.

"Our results document that a combination of processes is at work. Through an ensemble modeling approach, we were able to show that without anthropogenic effects, the droughts in the southwestern United States would have been less severe," says co-author Axel Timmermann, Director of the newly founded IBS Center for Climate Physics, within the Institute for Basics Science (IBS), and Distinguished Professor at Pusan National University in South Korea. "By prescribing the effects of man-made climate change and observed global ocean temperatures, our model can reproduce the observed shifts in weather patterns and wildfire occurrences."



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-atlanticpacific-ocean-temperature-difference-fuels.html#jCp
An international team of climate researchers from the US, South Korea and the UK has developed a new wildfire and drought prediction model for southwestern North America. Extending far beyond the current seasonal forecast, this study published in the journal Scientific Reports could benefit the economies with a variety of applications in agriculture, water management and forestry.
 

Over the past 15 years, California and neighboring regions have experienced heightened conditions and an increase in numbers with considerable impacts on human livelihoods, agriculture, and terrestrial ecosystems. This new research shows that in addition to a discernible contribution from natural forcings and human-induced global warming, the large-scale difference between Atlantic and Pacific ocean temperatures plays a fundamental role in causing droughts, and enhancing wildfire risks.

"Our results document that a combination of processes is at work. Through an ensemble modeling approach, we were able to show that without anthropogenic effects, the droughts in the southwestern United States would have been less severe," says co-author Axel Timmermann, Director of the newly founded IBS Center for Climate Physics, within the Institute for Basics Science (IBS), and Distinguished Professor at Pusan National University in South Korea. "By prescribing the effects of man-made climate change and observed global ocean temperatures, our model can reproduce the observed shifts in weather patterns and wildfire occurrences."



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-atlanticpacific-ocean-temperature-difference-fuels.html#jCp