El Niño –Pronunciation: \el-ˈnē-nyō\- (http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?el_nin01.wav=El%20Nino)
KUALA LUMPUR (The Star): Malaysians can expect hotter and drier days till September as an El Nino phenomenon is forming.
While the real extent of the El Nino impact could only be gauged sometime in August, more open burning was expected to contribute to more haze, the Meterological Department said in a report.
Malaysia experiences a hot and dry season in the months of June, July and August and temperatures range between 33C to 34C.
It is understood that temperatures could soar another 3C during El Nino.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) satellite report had identified 125 hot spots in the country since May 25 to June 7.
“The ministry has taken a pro-active measure by reviving the committee which monitors hot spots.
A national haze main committee meeting was held in February and June 8 and local government agencies have been ordered to be on a stand-by for any eventuality,” he said after launching the ‘Genting Goes Green’ at First World Plaza, Genting Highlands Resort Tuesday.
In a further preventive measure, the ministry has continued to increase its monitoring on the situation via daily aerial surveillance with co-operation from the police air unit and private airline companies, said Douglas.
“Emphasis is given to areas that are prone to fires such as Selangor, Pahang and Johor, especially peat swamps and garbage landfills.
“We have also roped in commercial airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia to help report open burning cases that they spot while up in the air,” he said.
The ASMC report also showed that there is an increase of hot spots in Sumatera and Kalimantan, Indonesia, totalling to 996 and 108 hotspots.
Douglas added that the country’s Air Pollution Index (API) has slightly deteriorated and now stands at 51 to 100, which is moderate.
“This has caused it to be slightly hazy. This hazy situation happened because of a stable atmosphere with a high humidity level of above 85%.
“This leads to air pollutants such as dust and emissions from vehicles and industries to collect and continue increasing in the air space, thus causing poor visibility,” he said.
According to a Meterological Department report on June 8, visibility at certain areas in Prai, Bayang Lepas, Subang, Petaling Jaya, Malacca and Kuantan has deteriorate to between 6km to 9km.