Humans are responsible for over 90% of the hotspots in northern Thailand, and PM2.5 atmospheric pollution in the region is projected to worsen before improving, according to Pinsak Suraswadi, Director-General of the Pollution Control Department.
According to the IQAir website today (Friday), Chiang Mai has the world’s second worst air quality, with a score of 177 on the AQI, implying that the problem is hurting the health of everyone in the province.
Pinsak stated that 90% of the hotspots were discovered in protected forests, with humans being the primary culprit. He also stated that the problem will worsen from tomorrow until next Friday, with higher amounts of dust observed in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Sukhothai, and Phitsanuloke.
He said that the provinces of Phitsanuloke, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet, Phichit, and Phetchabun have a high concentration of sugarcane farms and sugar millers, and farmers have increased the burning of their harvests as some millers begin to close their operations.
According to him, hotspots in Myanmar account for only 5% of the dust problem in northern Thailand.
The Geoinformatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), which conducted a survey in the western and northern regions, also confirms that burning crop waste, such as sugarcane and maize, to prepare the land for the next round of cultivation, is thought to be the cause of the increased hotspots.
The establishment of a command centre in each province to deal with forest fires, as well as the deployment of thousands of volunteers to fight the fires, amounts to treating the symptoms rather than addressing the root cause, according to Pinsak, who urged the public to be on the lookout for people who start fires and to notify authorities.
On Friday, satellite thermal imaging discovered 2,656 fire-danger hotspots in Thailand, more than in neighbouring nations.
According to the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency satellite operator, the data comes from the Suomi NPP satellite’s visible infrared imaging suite. Myanmar (2,321), Laos (1,422), Cambodia (664), Vietnam (542), and Malaysia (one) behind Thailand’s 2,656 hotspots.
In Thailand, 1,196 hotspots were discovered in conservation forests, 1,071 in national forest reserves, 159 in agricultural regions, 127 in agricultural land reform zones, 100 near towns, and three near highways.
The majority of the hotspots were in the north, with 338 in Lampang, 321 in Tak, 318 in Nan, and 249 in Chiang Mai.
GISTDA stated that wildfires and hotspots would be followed by dangerous amounts of PM2.5 dust. Hotspots in neighbouring nations could also be blown across the border into Thailand, exacerbating the country’s PM2.5 problem and negatively impacting the country’s economic and social systems.
Thailand will make extensive use of the Thailand Earth Observation System-2 in the near future (THEOS-2). Its primary objective was to investigate, analyze, and generate timely and exact forecasts of potential disasters so that appropriate agencies could plan for prevention and mitigation more efficiently.