In recent days, Sumatra, an island in Indonesia, has been experiencing a concerning increase in hotspot activity. These hotspots have given rise to smoke plumes that have caught the attention of environmental agencies and neighboring countries, including Singapore.
Understanding the Hotspot Activity
Over the past few days, Sumatra has witnessed a surge in hotspot activity. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), there were 28 hotspots detected on 2 September, and an additional 23 were identified on September 3rd, 2023.
The majority of these hotspots are concentrated in the southern regions of Sumatra, which is a cause for concern given the proximity to Singapore.
While Sumatra is known for its lush landscapes and rich biodiversity, the recent surge in hotspots poses a significant threat to the environment.
One of the most immediate consequences of hotspot activity is the generation of smoke plumes. These plumes have been observed rising from some of the detected hotspots in Sumatra.
The presence of smoke raises concerns not only for the local population but also for neighboring countries, including Singapore.
Fortunately, the prevailing winds from the southeast have, for now, prevented the smoke plumes from drifting directly towards Singapore. This has provided some relief to the residents of Singapore, as direct exposure to the smoke could have severe health implications.
The NEA warns that the dry weather conditions prevailing over southern and central Sumatra are expected to persist in the coming week. This persistent dryness raises concerns of exacerbating the hotspot and smoke haze situation in the region.
If the dry weather continues as anticipated, there is a growing risk of hazy conditions affecting not only Sumatra but also spilling over to Singapore.
To assess the immediate impact of the hotspot activity and smoke plumes on Singapore, the NEA provides the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings.
As of 4 pm yesterday, the PSI ranged from 45 to 76, falling within the “Good to Moderate” range. NEA is currently monitoring the situation closely.
There has been an increase in hotspot activity in Sumatra over the past few days, with smoke plumes emanating from some of them. 23 hotspots were detected today (3 Sep 2023), and 28 yesterday, mostly over southern Sumatra. The smoke plumes are still some distance away from Singapore and not observed to drift directly to Singapore under prevailing winds blowing from the southeast.
In the coming week, the prevailing dry weather is expected to continue over southern and central Sumatra. This may escalate the hotspot and smoke haze situation there and lead to a risk of hazy conditions affecting Singapore.
The 24h PSI across Singapore at 4pm today was 45 – 76, in the Good to Moderate range. NEA is monitoring the situation closely.