The Jakarta Post
Amid the current strong wind and dry air conditions, inducing rain through cloud seeding may not be effective in combating haze from wildfires in South Sumatra, a meteorology official has said.
Tropical Storm Bailu in the South China Sea had reduced water vapor in the air and rain cloud formation, said Beny Setiaji, the head of observation and information at the Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin (SMB) II meteorological station in Palembang.
“Based on the research we once conducted with Sriwijaya University, weather modification methods to make artificial rain will not be effective in the current condition,” Beny said.
Although the storm was expected to weaken on Aug. 27 to 29, strong winds and dry air existed above the clouds. Even though cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds could still form, it would be difficult to make artificial rain, he said.
Clouds were seeded usually from noon onwards, whereas rain clouds generally formed over just one hour to 1.5 hours, said Beny, adding that if the cloud seeding was successful, the resulting rain would only last during the several hours it took to seed the clouds.
“So if a downpour occurs in the evening and lasts a long time, it can be assured that the rain was not due to [any] weather modification,” he said.
Thick smog has engulfed Palembang as a result of increased hotspots as well as wildfires in nearby regencies and cities. The smog has reportedly decreased visibility and started disrupting daily activities in the provincial capital over the weekend, including around the Musi River.
The SMB II meteorological station recorded on Saturday reduced visibility of only 700 meters in the city because of the haze.
Although the reduced visibility did not disrupt flights, it disrupted the city's daily activities, especially for people using land transportation.
“This condition may continue throughout the dry season in line with the occurrence of forest fires,” said Beny.
He has called on residents to be cautious when driving on roads or traveling along rivers, and to avoid taking the first scheduled flights of the day, between 4 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.
Meanwhile, emergency mitigation head Ansori of the South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said the province had so far recorded 236 forest fires covering 1,675 hectares, including peatland fires.
By Friday, local authorities had conducted a total of 263 water-bombing operations and used 1,052 million liters of water in its efforts to extinguish the fires and to reduce haze. (afr)