Smoke Engulfs Singapore

Smoke Engulfs Singapore

On June 19, 2013, NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites captured striking images of smoke billowing from illegal wildfires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The smoke blew east toward southern Malaysia and Singapore, and news media reported that thick clouds of haze had descended on Singapore, pushing pollution to record levels.

Singapore’s primary measure of pollution, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI)—similar to the Air Quality Index (AQI) used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—rose to 371 on June 20, 2013, the highest level ever recorded. The previous record occurred in 1997, when the index hit 226. Health experts consider any level above 300 to be “hazardous” to human health. Levels above 200 are considered “very unhealthy.”

Both images above were captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument that observes the entire surface of Earth’s every 1 to 2 days. The top image shows smoke blowing east at 3:30 Universal Time (11:30 a.m. local time); the lower image shows the same area on the same afternoon at 6:30 UTC (2:30 p.m. local time).

Though local laws prohibit it, farmers in Sumatra often burn forests during the dry season to prepare soil for new crops. The BBC reported that Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned that the haze could “easily last for several weeks and quite possibly longer until the dry season ends in Sumatra.”

Images & Animations

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File Dimensions

indonesia_tmo_2013170.jpg
    morning (Terra MODIS)
  • 720x480
  • JPEG
indonesia_tmo_2013170_lrg.jpg
    morning (Terra MODIS)
  • 6800x5600
  • JPEG 6 MB
indonesia_tmo_2013170_fires_geo.tif
    morning (Terra MODIS)
  • GeoTIFF 54 MB
indonesia_amo_2013170.jpg
    afternoon (Aqua MODIS)
  • 720x480
  • JPEG
indonesia_amo_2013170_lrg.jpg
    afternoon (Aqua MODIS)
  • 6800x5600
  • JPEG 6 MB
indonesia_amo_2013170_fires_geo.tif
    afternoon (Aqua MODIS)
  • GeoTIFF 54 MB

Metadata

  • Data Date:

    June 19, 2013
  • Visualization Date:

    June 20, 2013
  • Sensor(s):

    Aqua - MODIS
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NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration