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Singapore too is facing the threat of the haze. - Today file pic

SINGAPORE: The threat of occasional haze in Singapore could last for months owing to very dry conditions in the region caused by a weather event called the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said on Friday (Aug 2).

“Since early July 2019, dry weather has been persisting over southern Sumatra and Kalimantan. Drier weather can be expected in the next three months (August to October), with monthly rainfall of up to 60 per cent below average,” said the MSS.

It attributes the drier weather in the region to the IOD, which refers to the sustained change to the difference between sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of the tropical western and eastern Indian Ocean.

“The IOD varies between three phases – positive, negative and neutral,” it said.

“The IOD is currently in its positive phase, which leads to drier weather over the areas adjacent to the eastern Indian Ocean, including Sumatra, Malaysia and Singapore. Major climate centres are predicting that the positive phase of the IOD is expected to persist over the coming months.”

A chopper is used to extinguish a fire at a peat land forest in Pelalawan district, Riau province, a province on Indonesia's Sumatra island which neighbours Singapore and Malaysia. - AFP

Indonesian hotspots

The MSS restated a point it made on Thursday that persistent hotspot activities with smoke plumes have been observed in the Riau and Jambi provinces of Sumatra and southern parts of Kalimantan in Indonesia in recent days.

In its press release on Friday, the MSS said that the drier-than-normal weather conditions it is forecasting in the coming weeks could lead to an escalation of hotspot activities and an “increase in the risk of transboundary haze occurrence in Singapore and the surrounding region”.

It added that the likelihood of haze affecting Singapore depends on factors such as the proximity and extent of the fires, the direction and strength of the prevailing winds, and the incidence of rain.

The MSS said that it will continue to monitor the regional weather and haze situation, and provide updates when necessary.

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