An extreme  fire event in 2013 a non El Niño year

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This presentation by David Gaveau from CIFOR during the Forests Asia Summit at the learning event "Fire and Haze in Southeast Asian Landscapes" explains the non-El Nino event in 2013 and how this is related to the haze in Indonesia.

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  • Peat land Fires in Indonesia are a major source of GHG emissions and atmospheric pollution. The environmental damage associated with these fires, and the negative impact of the resulting haze for human health, transport, tourism, economic activity in the regionhave made them a cause of major international concern.
  • The recent events indicate that extreme episodes of fires and associated haze may become more frequent in the future if nothing is done to stop these trends.
  • The PSI is a number representing the highest sub-index of five common pollutants computed based on the concentrations averaged over a 24-hour period: particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • A time-series of daily fire alerts detected by TERRA&AQUA satellites7 revealed a distinct peak in fire activity concentrated during the week of 17-25 June (Bottom right insert, Figure 1a). Correspondingly, Singapore’s Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) rose to an all-time high of 401 on 21 June 2013, surpassing its previous September 1997 record of 226 (“very unhealthy”), and breaching the official “hazardous designation” of 301 or higher for the first time in the nation’s history1.
  • Although annually, 2013 was 7.6% wetter than the historical average in Sumatra, rainfall deficits occurred in May and June 2013.
  • However, rainfall deficits were reported during May and June 2013, by 40 mm and 34 mm, respectively (Figure 2b). June 2013 were drier than in 86% of other years.
  • However, rainfall deficits were reported during May and June 2013, by 40 mm and 34 mm, respectively (Figure 2b). June 2013 were drier than in 86% of other years.
  • The largest monthly release of Fire Radiative Power (FRP) ever recorded by TERRA&AQUA satellites in Sumatra (Figure 1) occurred during the month of June 2013, and 82% of this FRP came from a 3 million ha area in Riau province, covered by one LANDSAT scene (127059). This slide shows how the smoke plume was directed at Malaysia and Singapore on 17-25 June 2013 and came from our area of interestFrom MACC project, Aerosols Optical Depth. http://www.gmes-atmosphere.eu/d/services/gac/nrt/nrt_opticaldepth!33!Biomass-burning!Global!macc!od!enfo!nrt_opticaldepth!2013121600!!/
  • Concessions (51% of our study area, or 1,661,072 ha) were disaggregated into: (i) areas developed by plantation companies (1,071,116 ha); (ii) areas occupied by small-scale agriculturalists (538,045 ha); and (iii) idle undeveloped lands (51,911 ha). This partitioning could be achieved by delineating the grid-like spatial arrangements of land parcels on the pre-fire LANDSAT imagery (Supplementary Fig. 6). This grid-like networks of roads and canals on the pre-fire LANDSAT imagery is known to characterize the spatial arrangement of company-owned plantations in the Indonesian lowlands. We delimited the boundary of those grids (and in some cases concentric patterns) in a GIS by visual interpretation, and assigned them to either oil palm or Acacia land holdings using the publicly available concession maps. Areas in concessions that did not show grid-like patterns, but exhibited clusters of rectangular land parcels of varying shape, size, and direction were characterized as lands occupied by small-scale agriculturalists (Supplementary Fig. 6). Areas in concessions without clusters of rectangular land parcels were characterized as idle undeveloped lands (these were mainly forest remnants).
  • This slides shows the complexity of land ownership in concessions (this example is a HTI concession)It is possible to reconstruct HGU maps partially by delineating areas developed by companies in the concessions before fire using satellites. This can be achieved by delineating the grid-like networks of roads and canals on the pre-fire LANDSAT imagery (Figure above) known to characterize the spatial arrangement of company-owned plantations in the Indonesian lowlands . Areas in concessions that did not show grid-like patterns were considered to be “not developed by companies”. According to this analysis, 37% (586,499 ha) of the total concession area (1.6 million ha) in our study area (OP and HTI combined) were undeveloped (next slide).We find that 34% (538,045 ha) of total concession area exhibited clusters of rectangular land parcels of varying shape, size, and direction, this being characteristic of lands occupied by small- and medium-land holders.
  • A time-series of daily fire alerts detected by TERRA&AQUA satellites7 revealed a distinct peak in fire activity concentrated during the week of 17-25 June (Bottom right insert, Figure 1a). Correspondingly, Singapore’s Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) rose to an all-time high of 401 on 21 June 2013, surpassing its previous September 1997 record of 226 (“very unhealthy”), and breaching the official “hazardous designation” of 301 or higher for the first time in the nation’s history1.
  • An extreme  fire event in 2013 a non El Niño year

    1. 1. An extreme fire event in 2013 a non El Niño year David L.A. Gaveau
    2. 2. Until 2013, trans-boundary haze events in Southeast Asia were exclusively associated with the large forest fires that followed extended El Niño droughts. But in June 2013 – a non El Niño year – Indonesian fires generated extreme pollution levels over Sumatra, Malaysia and Singapore.
    3. 3. Air Pollution levels in Singapore reached a record 246 on 22 June 2013 22 June 2013 Non El Niño) 07 Oct. 2006 (El Niño)19 Sept. 1997 (El Niño) Jan 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Data from National Environment Agency of Singapore
    4. 4. El Niño
    5. 5. Non El Niño
    6. 6. • The Indonesian fires behind the 2013 haze event were limited to a localized area in Central Sumatra (1.6% of Indonesia in Riau province) • An estimated 163,336 ha (including 137,044 ha, or 84% on peat) burned according to our LANDSAT analysis (very high correspondence with Fire Hotspots)
    7. 7. The bulk of fires (82%; 133,216 ha) burned ‘non-forest’ In 2013, Not Forest fires Different scenario from the 4.5-6 million ha of forest destroyed by fire in 1997
    8. 8. 57% of burned ‘non-forest’ areas were ‘forest cemeteries’: i.e. a mosaic of scrub&exposed soil, with stumps, downed trunks and branches
    9. 9. • Over half of burned areas (58%; 94,308 ha) were forested five years previously
    10. 10. • The 2013 Sumatran fires do not qualify as forest fires, and therefore have caused negligible deforestation. • However, the 2013 fires are part of the process that converts forests to agricultural plantations in Sumatra.
    11. 11. 2013 was not an El Niño year (2013 was 7.6% wetter than the historical 1961-2013 average) Rainfall deficits of 39 mm and 47 mm occurred in May and June 2013 CLIMATIC INFLUENCE
    12. 12. Rainfall(mm/year) PSI reached a record 246 in June2013 01July9731June98 Previous PSI record of 138 in Sept. 1997 01July1231June13 Source NOAA-PREC/L 2013 was 7.6% wetter than historical average (2,530 compared to 2,350 mm yr-1)
    13. 13. Rainfall deficit in May and June 2013 uly ug ept ct ov ec an eb ar pr ay une Rainfall deficits of 39 mm and 47 mm occurred in May and June 2013
    14. 14.  A 10% decrease in rainfall induced more than 60% of increase in fires. Monthly Fire intensity (fire radiative power, FRP) in Riau correlated to mean rainfall over two months
    15. 15. The June 2013 fires released an estimated 171 Tg CO2-eq of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in one single week. These emissions would be 5-10% of Indonesia’s annual total emissions for 2000-2005 and originate from 1.6% of Indonesia’s landmass. MEASURING CARBON EMISSIONS
    16. 16. • The Indonesian fires of 2013 were triggered by a seasonal two month dry spell in an otherwise rainy year. • These fires were short-lived (one week) and confined to recently deforested peatlands in a localized area in Central Sumatra (in Riau) • The area affected was less than the 4.5 6 Million ha of forest destroyed in 1997. • However, the emissions of GHG and smoke during this brief localised event (one week and 1.6% of Indonesia’s land) were large because of the peat. • These fires generated unprecedented atmospheric pollution in Singapore because of their proximity and the prevailing south westerly monsoon winds
    17. 17. Just over half the area burned lay within concession areas allocated for oil palm and Acacia industrial plantations (84,717 ha or 52%), but 60% of this (50,248 ha; or 31% of total burned area) was occupied by smallholders. 48% of total burned areas was outside concessions, mainly on land owned by MoF (HP) but disputed by provincial government WHO BURNED ?
    18. 18. • 52% of total burned area was within concessions, but 60% of this (50,248 ha; or 31% of total burned area) was occupied by smallholders • 48% of total burned areas was outside concessions, mainly on land owned by MoF (HP) but disputed by provincial government
    19. 19. Conflicts ?  We found cases where tensions between plantation companies and communities resulted in fires.  The legal situation of land- ownership is not entirely clear, and fires may be linked to these governance issues.  Companies say they are the victim. Communities say the same. Different agencies at different levels of f government show disagreement over land control
    20. 20. A landscape approach seeking balanced trade-offs between agricultural expansion, peat land and forest conservation, and equitable benefit distribution from land use is the solution for fires reduction. This may be achieved by harmonizing national, provincial, and customary land and forest use regulations by establishing equitable land ownership and distribution of benefits for indigenous groups, migrants, mid-level investors, and companies, by establishing effective processes to address and mediate conflicts related to land use, and by aligning the economic incentives for improved land use, keeping a strong stance against corruption and illegal land speculators from all levels.

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