Malaysia to seed clouds to combat smoke from fires in Indonesia

Bangkok, Oct 3 (EFE).- The Malaysian authorities have prepared a series of measures, including seeding clouds and closing schools, to combat air pollution from hundreds of fires raging in neighboring Indonesia.

In a statement late Monday, the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change underlined the possible actions after it detected about 250 fires on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Air pollution levels reached an “unhealthy level” in 11 areas, some of which include parts of Kuala Lumpur, on Monday afternoon.

In Kuala Lumpur’s southeast Cheras district, the air pollution index was over 160 points during the last 24 hours.

The statement said that air quality in the country continued to deteriorate, with more areas recording unhealthy air quality levels, especially on the western coast of peninsular Malaysia.

According to the plan, the authorities mentioned the possibility of artificially seeding clouds to cause rainfall in areas where the air pollution index would exceed 150 points for more than 24 hours.

Cloud seeding, a technique that has been in use since 1946, is the most common method of artificially modifying weather by dispersing substances such as silver iodide, dry ice, and even salt from aircraft or from the surface into the air.

The Malaysian ministry also said it would suspend outdoor activities in schools and nurseries if the index exceeded 100 points and would “immediately” close the areas if air pollution touched 200 points.

Last week, Malaysia blamed Indonesia for the air pollution due to the fires in Indonesian territory, something Jakarta denied.

During Indonesia’s dry season between April and October, palm oil and other crop plantations burn crop stubble that in turn lead to clouds of smoke across the area.

This often affects the air quality of neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore, which suffered a similar situation in 2014 and 2015. EFE


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