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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Indonesia to use ‘artificial rain’ to combat forest fires during dry season this year

Last year, the fires ravaged over 1.6 million hectares of land and churned out nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as the Amazon fires in Brazil.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published: June 18, 2020 8:52:45 pm
European Space Agency records Amazon air pollution in backdrop of forest fires While forest fires are common during Indonesia’s intense dry season, the fires last year were reportedly far more severe than in previous years. (AP Photo)

In a bid to prevent a recurrence of last year’s forest fires that destroyed millions of acres of land, the Indonesian government has announced that it will be deploying ‘artificial rain’ ahead of the peak draught season this year. The country’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has said that the man-made showers have already been used successfully in several fire-prone areas, the Guardian reported.

In a press briefing on Monday, Siti announced that the government had collaborated with Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) as well as the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) to develop the artificial rain. Usually, for artificial rainfall to take place, airplanes are used to induce clouds with chemicals like silver iodide or dry ice.

“We are usually rather worried about the weather development in June or during Lebaran [Idul Fitri]. We are now a little relieved but we need to remain alert for the second critical phase at the peak of the dry season in August. All relevant parties must increase their vigilance,” Siti said.

While forest fires are common during Indonesia’s intense dry season, the fires last year were reportedly far more severe than in previous years. The fires ravaged over 1.6 million hectares of land and churned out nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as the Amazon fires in Brazil. Large parts of south-east Asia were enveloped in a toxic haze, which led to a spike in respiratory ailments and also forced the closure of airports and schools.

Many feared that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government would not be able to step up its efforts to prevent the fires from spreading, the Jakarta Post reported. However, government officials have said that they have taken several steps to stop the fires from recurring this year.

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has predicted that the drought season this year will begin in June and peak in August.

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