The Jakarta Post
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned on Monday that three phenomena will cause extraordinary weather events across Indonesia, with the western part of the country set to have more rain than usual while the eastern part will experience severe drought.
The agency's head of climate information, Evi Lutfiati, said that the sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean, specifically around the eastern part of Africa and western part of Sumatra, was warmer than average although still within normal levels.
Evi said that the phenomenon, which is known as Negative Dipole Mode, would cause potential evaporation in western Indonesia.
Dipole Mode is an anomaly between the eastern and western parts of the Indian Ocean, causing rainfall intensity along the western coast of Sumatra.
Meanwhile, Evi said that the Asian Monsoon is relatively weak, enabling the formation of rain clouds around Sumatra.
The Asian Monsoon is the seasonal wind of the Indian Ocean and southern Asia, blowing from the southwest in summer and from the northeast in winter.
Evi said that the combination of the Asian Monsoon and the Negative Dipole Mode had caused Sumatra to experience a higher intensity of rain.
However, soon after the wet season is over, severe drought could hit.
'We predict that Sumatra and Kalimantan will start to experience the dry season in July,' she said.
She also said that the country would face severe drought across the country, similar to 1997 when three occurrences ' El Nino, the Negative Dipole Mode and the Australian Monsoon ' worsened at the same time.
'El Nino, with a weak to moderate scale, will take place only in the eastern part of Indonesia,' she said.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) warned that prolonged droughts could cause forest fires and haze in North Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan provinces.
BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that the agency had received a Rp 355 billion (US$30 million) allocation from the state budget to fund helicopters and water bombers in relation to forest fires and haze this year.
'Despite both having drought as the cause, forest fires and haze have wider effects than water and food shortages,' Sutopo said on Monday.
'Forest fires and haze could disturb aviation, and cause fire-related diseases and financial loss,' he said.
He said that in the meantime, local governments would have to deal with food and water shortages by building water tanks, ponds and drilling a number of deep wells, among other things.
'We've learned from our experience in dealing with El Nino in 1997. Severe drought will always occur in Java, Bali and Nusa Tenggara because the areas always have water shortages in the first place, even without the El Nino effects,' he said. (put)
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