Southeast Asia Regional Centre
The use of fire has led to ecosystem degradation, environmental damage and smoke pollution affecting human health and the composition of the atmosphere. Traditional slash-and-burn agriculture (swidden land cultivation) during the past millennia has provided livelihood for indigenous forest and rural communities, in many cases based on traditional principles of sustainability.
However, since the beginning of the 20th century, population growth, migration and economic development has resulted in extended conversion of native forests and wetlands (peat biomes) to agricultural lands as well as to forest and other tree plantations. Biodiversity- and carbon-rich pristine forest and peat-swamp ecosystems have been replaced by agro-industrial systems. The periodic recurrence of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) also favours the spread of land fires to uncontrolled wildfires, which has caused additional, non-intended loss of native ecosystems.
First VFSP-WAS Regional Centre established in Southeast Asia
As one of the regions most affected by vegetation fires and smoke pollution, the first Regional Vegetation Fire and Smoke Pollution Warning and Advisory Centre (RVFSP-WAC) for the VFSP-WAS has been established in Southeast Asia. The centre is hosted by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) of the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) and will serve as a prototype for other regional centres to be established around the world.
Proposed workflow of the Southeast Asia Regional Centre
Climate and fire activity in Southeast Asia
Located close to the equator, fire activity in Southeast Asia is largely influenced by the movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ is the major tropical rainbelt and its seasonal migration regulates rainfall patterns in the region. There are two distinct dry seasons during which fire activity is prevalent. During January to April, fires tend to occur in the northern parts of Southeast Asia when the ITCZ is at its southernmost extent. Conversely, during June to October, fires tend to occur in the southern parts of Southeast Asia when the ITCZ is at its northernmost extent.
Bi-monthly MODIS fire prevalence for 2003–2009. (Reid et al., 2013)
Reid, J. S., et al. (2013), Observing and understanding the Southeast Asian aerosol system by remote sensing: An initial review and analysis for the Seven Southeast Asian Studies (7SEAS) program, Atmos. Res., 122, 403–468, doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2012.06.005.