Hot spots spring up again in Riau

Hot spots spring up again in Riau
An Indonesian soldier inspects a peat land forest on fire in Kampar district, Riau province located in Sumatra island on August 7, 2015 as authorities try to control raging forest fires.

Riau has once again seen widespread hot spots erupt throughout the province. These hotspots have been almost completely extinguished during the last three days, causing more areas to be blanketed with thick smoke.

Based on data it has collected from the Terra and Aqua satellites, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Pekanbaru, Riau, said 18 hot spots had been detected in five regencies across the province on Monday.

Indragiri Hulu had 11 hot spots, followed by Indragiri Hilir, Kuantan Singingi and Pelalawan which all reported two hot spots each.

One hot spot was identified on the Meranti Islands.

"Analysis shows that 15 out of the 18 hot spots are fire spots. Ten fire spots are in Indragiri Hulu, followed by Kuantan Singingi and Pelalawan with two fire spots each, and a remaining single fire spot is in Indragiri Hilir," said Slamet Riyadi, head of data and analysis at the BMKG Pekanbaru.

He said hot spots had grown significantly and spread evenly throughout areas in southern Sumatra. On Sunday morning, the satellites monitored only 18 hot spots in Sumatra, but the number jumped drastically within 24 hours, reaching 217 spots.

"Apart from Riau, Jambi is also detecting hot spots, and with 107 spots, it is the province with the highest number of hot spots in Sumatra. South Sumatra ranks second with 79 hot spots, followed by Bangka Belitung [10] and Lampung [3]," said Slamet.

He said hot spot fluctuations in Riau and in central and southern parts of Sumatra Island were heavily influenced by El Niño. By July, he said, the impact of El Niño had not yet been so clear. However, its influence would continue to increase as time went on. The weather would get hotter and drier so that land and forest fires could easily occur.

"Although it has not yet been too significant, El Niño has made the dry season in southern Riau stretch out for a longer period. Hot spots suspected as land and forest fires have continued to grow in the area," said Slamet.

"Normally, by the end of August, most of the areas in Riau will have entered the rainy season. However, rainfall has not yet spread evenly this year. Rainfall has not yet spread evenly in the northern Riau areas, such as Dumai, Rokan Hilir and part of Bengkalis. The rain has fallen with only low to moderate intensity," said Slamet.

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