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Fires Burning Across Sumatra, Indonesia

1.0N 102.3E

March 7th, 2014 Category: Climate Change, Fires MODISTerra

Sumatra, Indonesia – March 7th, 2014

Hundreds of fires burning across the Island of Sumatra release plumes of smoke that blow towards the southwest.

Clearing land for timber and agriculture is likely to blame for Indonesia’s latest bout of fires. According to data from Global Forest Watch – a new online system that tracks tree cover change, fires, and other information in near-real time – roughly half of these fires are burning on land managed by oil palm, timber, and logging companies – despite the fact that using fire to clear land is illegal in Indonesia.

Climate Change and Deforestation in Borneo – May 3rd, 2013

1.0N 114.2E

May 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Deforestation, Image of the day, Vegetation Index

Indonesia – May 3rd, 2013

This image focuses on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia, showing its vegetation index. The rainforests of Southeast Asia support much of the region’s biodiversity. They play a crucial role in providing important ecosystem services such as soil stabilisation and carbon storage, and are an important source of income locally and nationally.

However, these lowland forests are under serious threat from direct and indirect human activities. Deforestation is occurring at a huge rate, due to logging for timber, conversion to huge agricultural plantations, and slash-and-burn farming methods. This has a serious impact on biodiversity and general functioning of the ecosystem and, as a result, affects the livelihoods of the many people who depend on the forests for income, shelter, water and food.

Perhaps the biggest and most long-term threat facing the rainforests, however, is posed by climate change, in particular increasingly severe and frequent droughts associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events – the dry phase of a global cycle driving our climate. The wet La Niña phase of the ENSO cycle is also becoming more intense, leading to increasing frequency and size of large rainstorms. These wash away huge amounts of soil (and with it, valuable nutrients), which then ends up in the rivers causing sedimentation and flooding downstream.

The most important group of tree species in the rainforests of Borneo are the dipterocarps, which includes some of the largest forest species that grow in the tropics. In fact, Borneo hosts the greatest diversity and abundance of dipterocarps in the world – but they are suffering severely from the threats outlined above. The reduced recruitment of new seedlings and regeneration of older trees could have potentially disastrous implications. The future of the dipterocarps is at risk beyond the current generation unless restorative intervention is carried out (click here for more information).

Indonesia’s government has put plans for climate change management into effect, stressing the importance of conservation and utilization of the natural environment to support sustainable economic growth and the increased welfare of the people. Main programs include working on pollution and emission controls, reducing deforestation, peat lands management improvements and environmental rehabilitation. Indonesia and Australia are also working together to protect the forests of Kalimantan, the part of Borneo that belongs to Indonesia.

Eruption of Paluweh Volcano, Indonesia

8.3S 121.7E

April 1st, 2013 Category: Volcanoes

Indonesia – March 24th, 2013

Ash is projected forth from the summit of the Paluweh (also known as Rokatenda) Volcano in Indonesia. It is carried southwest by winds, over the island of Flores, the Savu Sea and the island of Sumba. The eruption at Paluweh may have been caused by the collapse of an unstable lava dome. The number of small tremors and emissions of ash increased in October 2012 and continued into February 2013, perhaps indicating growth of the lava dome.

Eruption of Paluweh Volcano, Indonesia – March 31st, 2013

8.3S 121.7E

March 31st, 2013 Category: Image of the day, Volcanoes

Indonesia – March 24th, 2013

An eruption of the Paluweh Volcano caused a thick plume of ash to blow westward and then south, across Flores Island and over the Savu Sea.  High-altitude winds carried airborne ash more than 440 kilometers (270 miles) to the southwest. Paluweh, also known as Rokatenda, is a stratovolcano mountain located on the small Palu’e Island, north of Flores Island in Sikka Regency in the province of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. It is the highest point on the island with a height of 875 metres (2,871 ft).

Tropical Storm Sonamu (01W) Moving West-Southwestward at 6 Knots

6.7N 108.5E

January 7th, 2013 Category: Tropical Storms

Tropical Storm 01W – January 6th, 2013

Track of Tropical Storm 01W - January 6th, 2013 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of TS 01W

Tropical Storm Sonamu (01W), located approximately 250 nautical miles south-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has tracked west-southwestward at 6 knots over the past six hours. Maximum significant wave height is 15 feet.

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