Northern Sumatra dealing with smoke from fires

February 28, 2014
Northern Sumatra dealing with smoke from fires
Credit: NASA

On February 27, 2014, the Wall Street Journal and Southeast Asia Realtime reported that: "the plantation-rich province of Riau on Indonesia's Sumatra Island has declared a state of emergency as fires set for land clearing have sent pollution levels soaring and smoke made breathing difficult for thousands."

Tens of thousands of Riau residents are suffering from the effects of the smoke coming from dozens of fires set to clear land in Sumatra. Riau is the center of Indonesia's more than $20 billion industry—the world's largest. Fires occur with frequency in Riau due to farmers deliberately setting them to make way for the new planting season.

Residents of Riau, numbering more than six million, continue to struggle with the smoke and haze from those fires. Schools have had to close due to the smoke and haze in an effort to keep school children safe from the polluted air.

According to WSJ, "Clearing land by is illegal for all but the smallest landowners. After the haze crisis last June, Indonesia named 10 palm oil and pulpwood companies suspected of setting the blazes. The government said recently that legal cases against all are ongoing. Police in Riau have detained more than three dozen people suspected of starting the fires. None of them have been identified as being affiliated with plantation companies."

Riau is preparing aerial water bombing and ground-based firefighting operations to fight the fires.

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on February 28, 2014. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red.

Explore further: Less haze in Singapore as the cause becomes clearer and more complex

Related Stories

Land-clearing Blazes in Indonesia

July 22, 2013

In Indonesia, land-clearing blazes dot the countryside. Fires for clearing land have been outlowed for all but the smallest landowners, but the "slash-and-burn" practice still persists despite cloaking Southeast Asia in toxic ...

Haze returns to Indonesia as fires rage

August 27, 2013

Fires cloaked parts of Indonesia's Sumatra in thick smog Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of flights, two months after blazes on the island sparked Southeast Asia's worst haze crisis for years.

Indonesian farmers take legal action over haze

September 11, 2013

Indonesian farmers in a province at the centre of Southeast Asia's worst smog outbreak for years have filed a lawsuit against the president in response to the haze crisis, activists said Wednesday.

NASA image: Fires in Northern Sumatra

February 6, 2014

Fires dot the coast of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite image collected on February 06, 2014. The MODIS instrument is aboard the Terra satellite and actively ...

Recommended for you

Asteroid impact, volcanism were one-two punch for dinosaurs

October 1, 2015

Berkeley geologists have uncovered compelling evidence that an asteroid impact on Earth 66 million years ago accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes in India for hundreds of thousands of years, and that together these planet-wide ...

History shows more big wildfires likely as climate warms

October 5, 2015

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to new study led by a University of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.