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Encyclopedia > 1997 Southeast Asian haze

The 1997 Southeast Asian haze occured in the second half of 1997, and its after effects caused widespread inconvenience especially visibility and health problems within Southeast Asia. It cost the Southeast Asian region an estimated US$9.0 billion by disrupting air travel and other business activities. Image File history File links 1997haze2. ...


The influence of the 1997 fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra on ambient air quality was evident by July, peaked in September/October and weakened by November, when the delayed monsoonal rain extinguished the fires and scavenged the atmosphere in the region. During the peak episode, satellite imagery (NASA/TOMS aerosol index maps) showed a smoke haze layer which expanded over an area of more than 3 million km², covering large parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan. Its northward extension partially reached Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. During this period, particulate matter concentrations frequently exceeded national ambient air quality standards. Monthly mean horizontal visibility at most locations in Sumatra and Kalimantan in September was below 1 km and daily maximum visibility was frequently below 100 metres. Monsoon in the Vindhya mountain range, central India A monsoon is a wind pattern that reverses direction with the seasons. ... Sumatra (also spelled Sumatara and Sumatera) is the sixth largest island of the world (approximately 470,000 km²) and is the third largest island of Indonesia after Borneo (of which Kalimantan belongs to Indonesia) and New Guinea. ... Kalimantan is the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. ...

Contents

Countries affected

Causes

The 1997 Southeast Asian haze was caused mainly by slash and burn techniques adopted by farmers in Indonesia. Slash and burn has been extensively used for many years to clear the lands for traditional agriculture since it is considered as the cheapest and easiest way to do so. In the long fallow rotation of the so-called jungle rubber in Sumatra and Kalimantan fire is also used to remove most of the biomass including the woody parts before new plantations are re-established. Assarting in Finland in 1892 Slash and burn (a specific practice that may be part of shifting cultivation or swidden-fallow agriculture) is an agricultural procedure widely used in forested areas. ... Switchgrass, a hardy plant used in the biofuel industry in the United States Biomass, in the energy production industry, refers to living and recently living biological material which can be used as fuel or for industrial production. ...


Fire may also be deliberately used as a weapon to claim the lands. The actions may be taken by both smallholders and large operators, because the land titling and tenure systems remain unsolved. As soon as crops are introduced smallholders can occupy the lands. Similarly, fire set by large scale development project-related activities can be used to drive the local people out of their lands. Fires can be and have been fully controlled for centuries by those whose ownership is secured. Only in islands or provinces where land ownership is not clear do fires become widespread.


During the fire-prone period dry fuels are readily ignited and lead to large wild fires. Accidentally spread fires, however, may have the same underlying socio-economic and institutional problems. In cases like this fire suppression can be very difficult and costly, especially when they reach peat-swamp areas.


Effects

The air pollutant that constitues haze and predominantly caused violations of ambient air quality standards was particulate matter. In all countries affected by the smoke haze, an increase of acute health outcomes was observed. Health effects included emergency room visits due to respiratory symptoms such as asthma, upper respiratory infection, decreased lung function and eye and skin irritation, caused by particulate matter. In Singapore, for instance, health surveillance showed a 30% increase in hospital attendance for haze-related illnesses. Generally, individuals such with pre-existing respiratory and cardiac diseases, but also elderly and children are most susceptible to adverse health outcomes from haze exposure. In addition to the acute effects, chronic diseases are likely follow. The smoke haze episodes add to the urban and industrial air pollution in Southeast Asia, which has reached alarming levels in many metropolitan areas. Particulates, alternately referred to as Particulate Matter (PM) , aerosols or fine particles are tiny particles of solid or liquid suspended in the air. ... Severe haze affecting Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2005 Moon over red and blue haze For other uses, see Haze (disambiguation). ... For the Codename: Kids Next Door character with this name, see Common Cold. ... Particulates, alternately referred to as Particulate Matter (PM) , aerosols or fine particles are tiny particles of solid or liquid suspended in the air. ... Severe haze affecting Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2005 Moon over red and blue haze For other uses, see Haze (disambiguation). ... In medicine, a chronic disease is a disease that is long-lasting or recurrent. ... Location of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia. ...


Besides health impacts, by scattering and absorbing light, particulates also result in reduced visibility, impairing transportation by air, land and water and seriously affected the economies of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Among the economic sectors affected most were air, land and sea transportation, construction, tourism and agrobased industry. EEPSEA/WWF roughly estimated the economic value of the damages caused by the 1997 fires and haze. They estimated 1 billion US$ of haze-related damages for Indonesia only. The damages to Malaysia and Singapore are figured at 0.4 billion US$. Including the fire related damages, the total damages are estimated to amount to 4.5 billion US$. However, a variety of the damages such as decreased quality of life, losses of biodiversity and atmospheric impacts are difficult to monetarise. In meteorology, visibility is a measure of the distance that can be seen clearly at any given time. ... WWF redirects here. ...


Fire-related smoke haze episodes also reveal a social component: a large part of the population in Southeast Asia do not have the financial means to buy protective measures such as respiratory masks and air conditioning nor are they able to refrain from outdoor work when air pollution is high. The same applies to medical treatment costs for haze related ailments.


Responses in the region

The 1997/98 smoke haze episode resulted in an intensification of regional measures towards cooperation in fire and smoke management which were initiated in the aftermath of the 1991 and 1994 smoke haze episodes. These measures include the establishment of ASEAN Haze Technical Task Force and the implementation of Regional and National Haze Action Plans. These plans define the ASEAN’s countries contribution to fire prevention, monitoring, fighting and other mitigation measures. Among others, it is also targeted to upgrade the national air quality and meteorological monitoring networks in order to strengthen the region’s early warning and monitoring system in respect to smoke haze. Main languages See Languages of ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong of Singapore Area  - Total 4,480,000 km2 Population  - Total (2004)  - Density 550,000,000 122. ...


The 1997/98 made evident that in addition to a sound fire management a fundamental revision of the current land conversion and fire use policies is required to prevent the reoccurrence of similar episodes. Groundbased and airborne investigations of the smoke haze 1997 indicated that fires on peat swamp vegetation made a substantial contribution to the smoke haze development, which, however, are estimated to have contributed only 30% to the total area burnt. Given this apparent particular relevance of peat swamp fires to the development of transboundary smoke haze, emission reduction and control strategies will have to focus on the prevention of fires in this type of vegetation as a matter of priority.


Future land use management will also have to consider 'air use' management. The health impacts and economic damages of the 1997/98 demonstrated that controlling future haze events represents an influencing factor for public and economic prosperity in the Southeast Asian region.


See also

An air quality measurement station in Edinburgh, Scotland The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a standardized indicator of the air quality in a given location. ... The Pollutant Standards Index, or PSI, provides a uniform system of measuring pollution levels for the major air pollutants. ... Severe haze affecting Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2005 Moon over red and blue haze For other uses, see Haze (disambiguation). ... Wikinews has news related to this article: Haze crisis over Malaysia prompts talks with Indonesia The 2005 Malaysian haze is a week-long choking smog-like haze over Malaysia that has prompted crisis talks with Indonesia and has caused widespread inconvenience. ... The 2006 Southeast Asian haze affects several countries in the Southeast Asian region and beyond. ... Assarting in Finland in 1892 Slash and burn (a specific practice that may be part of shifting cultivation or swidden-fallow agriculture) is an agricultural procedure widely used in forested areas. ...

References

  • Investigating the haze transport from 1997 biomass burning in Southeast Asia: Its impact upon Singapore : Asia
  • The Asian Forest Fires of 1997-1998
  • The 1997-98 Air Pollution Episode in Southeast Asia Generated by Vegetation Fires in Indonesia

 
 

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