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Thick Haze from Agricultural Fires in Thailand

18.4N 98.4E

April 9th, 2013 Category: Fires

Thailand and Myanmar – April 8th, 2013

Agricultural fires burning across Thailand create a thick haze over the country and its neighbors, including Myanmar. The Thai government is stepping up efforts to fight forest fires and haze pollution by applying stricter law enforcement, especially during the critical period from January to April. Haze pollution can cause such health hazards as respiratory problems and heart, eye, and skin diseases.

The measures in 2013 have been switched from the focus on “burning control” to “no burning.” The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has set the period from 21 January to 10 April 2013 to prohibit burning in all forest areas. Campaigns have also been launched to encourage local people to stop all kinds of burning in the forest. Thailand will seek cooperation from Laos and Myanmar in controlling forest fires along border areas.

The Department of Land Development is launching a campaign for agricultural leftovers to be plowed under, instead of being burned. The campaign is a new measure to combat the smoke haze problem, while increasing soil fertility. Efforts will be made to provide farmers with knowledge about how to turn weed into biogas and electricity, so that it will not be burned and create haze pollution.

Apart from hot dry weather, the burning of solid waste and agricultural materials in open areas has been cited as a major cause of forest fires. Another cause involves the slash-and-burn farming technique employed by farmers to clear land in forested areas (click here for more information).

Smog From Agricultural Fires in Thailand

17.6N 99.3E

March 28th, 2013 Category: Floods

Myanmar and Thailand – March 25th, 2013

Every year between February and April local farmers in Northern Thailand and neighboring countries burn huge amounts of vegetation to clear fields and get rid of agricultural waste. The result is a serious, regional smog problem that causes discomfort and health issues for millions of people. Here, the haze covers much of Thailand and spreads towards neighboring countries such as Myanmar (left).

Khorat Plateau and Climate Change in Thailand

16.7N 102.5E

February 7th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Mountains

Thailand – January 24th, 2013

This image focuses on Thailand, namely on the Khorat Plateau, in the northeastern part of the country. The average elevation is 200 m and it covers an area of about 155,000 km². The saucer-shaped plateau is divided by a range of hills called the Phu Phan mountains into two basins: the northern Sakhon Nakhon Basin, and the southern Khorat Basin.

The plateau is tilted towards the south-east, and drained by the Mun and Chi rivers, tributaries to the Mekong that forms the north eastern boundary of the area. It is separated from Central Thailand by the Phetchabun mountain range and the Dong Phaya Yen mountains in the west, the Sankamphaeng Range in the southwest and by the Dongrek mountains in the south.

These together with the Truong Son Range in the north-east catch a lot of the rainfall, so the South-West monsoon has much lower intensity then in other regions—the mean annual rainfall in Nakhon Ratchasima is about 1150 mm, compared with 1500 mm in Central Thailand. The difference between dry and wet season is much stronger, which makes the area less fertile for rice.

Thailand has begun implementing interesting strategies to adapt to climate change, to mitigate some of the effects that are already felt, and to protect farmland, coasts and cities. Thailand is the home to 65 million people, the majority of whom live in rural, agricultural areas. Climate change threatens all three important sectors of Thailand’s economy: agriculture, tourism, and trade. The country is the world’s largest exporter of rice, and agriculture employs 49% of the population.

Today, Thailand produces only 0.8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and has a lower per capita emission rate than the global average (3.25 metric tons in 2002, compared with 3.97 per capita worldwide). However, Thailand’s total CO2 emissions doubled between 1991 and 2002 and the government recognized its contribution to global warming.

The effects of climate change, including higher surface temperatures, floods, droughts, severe storms and sea level rise, put Thailand’s rice crops at risk and threaten to submerge Bangkok within 20 years. The damage to agriculture, coastal tourism, and the capital city as consequences of climate change will have enormous economic, cultural and environmental impacts: one degree of warming will destroy the rice crops that are central to the economy, and a few centimeters of sea level rise will submerge the capital city and devastate coastal tourism.

Thailand’s mitigation and adaptation efforts include a slow shift to organic agriculture, a tsunami warning system along the Andaman Sea, the construction of a flood prevention wall around Bangkok, and an Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and energy use (click here for more information).

Titiwangsa Mountains Along Malay Peninsula

7.0N 99.9E

June 20th, 2012 Category: Mountains

Malay Peninsula - January 6th, 2012

This wide-swath ASAR image shows the Malay Peninsula (or Thai-Malay Peninsula), a peninsula in Southeast Asia (visible in its entirety in the full image). The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland. The area contains the southernmost tip of Burma, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and Southern Thailand.

The image shows the ridges and contours of the Titiwangsa Mountains, part of the Tenasserim Hills system, that form the backbone of the Peninsula. They form the southernmost section of the central cordillera which runs from Tibet through the Kra Isthmus (the Peninsula’s narrowest point) into the Malay peninsula.

Vegetation Index of Thailand and Neighboring Countries

16.0N 101.3E

June 16th, 2012 Category: Vegetation Index

Thailand - December 31st, 2011

This FAPAR image focuses on Thailand, showing the country’s vegetation index. Parts of Myanmar (left), Laos (upper right quadrant) and Cambodia (lower right quadrant) are also visible. The index in central Thailand is quite low, as is evidenced by the light yellow false-coloring. The index is highest (rusty red) in the mountains in the upper left quadrant and along the Malay Peninsula in the lower left quadrant. The rest of the image shows a generally good index of photosynthetic activity (green).

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