Singapore—The morning of November 13, Wednesday, saw haze return to Singapore, which the National Environmental Agency (NEA) attributes to “accumulation of particulate matter.”
However, while the haze may take a little bit of time to clear due to the absence of strong winds at that time, the NEA said in a Facebook post that it expected the situation to improve because of afternoon thunderstorms.
With the presence of haze, the quality of the air was similarly affected, with readings in the eastern part of the country rising to reach levels considered unhealthy by 11:00 on the morning of November 13th.
By 7pm, readings for the south part of Singapore had also registered in the unhealthy range.
Per the NEA’s scale, PSI readings from 50 and below mean that air quality is “good.” At 51 to 100, air quality is “moderate,” and from 101 to 200, air quality is categorized in the “unhealthy” range.
By 7pm on November 13, here were the country’s readings, in descending order. 105 in the south, 98 in the east, 92 in the north, 90 in the west and 88 in the central region.
The NEA reassured the public that it would closely monitor the situation and give updates as needed.
As the NEA predicted, skies had cleared by Thursday morning and the air quality had improved as well. By 9am, the PSI readings were as follows: 87 in the south, 75 in the east, 76 in the north, 79 in the west and 79 in the central region.
In May of this year, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) said there would be a “moderate risk” that the country would experience severe haze in 2019, akin to the one it last saw four years ago.
On May 2, Thursday, SIIA launched its Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN Summary Report at the 6th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources Conference, which was held at the Fullerton Hotel Singapore.
In 2015, haze-covered many parts of South East Asia for several months, with Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) levels reaching unprecedented highs. For instance, forest fires in Indonesia in October 2015 caused the PSI to reach a 1936 reading. In that country, levels of 350 and higher are already considered hazardous, and schools are already closed for PSI readings that are lower than 350.
Back then, the months-long haze was considered one of “the most severe events on record.” In September through November in Singapore that year, PSI readings hit hazardous levels as well.
The goal of the report from SIIA is to serve as both a risk assessment and well as a predictive tool for countries within the region to see whether Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore could experience haze again during the dry season in the middle of the year.
In 1997 and 2015, haze intensified due to a prolonged dry period as well as the El Nino phenomenon, which sees a warming of the central and eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean, occurring every 3-7 years, and causing changes in patterns of global weather.
El Nino has been predicted to occur again this year, 2019, but with less severity. -/TISG
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