Scientists assess impact of Indonesia fires



The fires burning in Indonesia over the past several months are setting aflame the biomass and wildlife habitat of the tropical forests, spreading a dangerously unhealthy haze across the populous country and nearby nations in southeast Asia, causing transportation hazards, and sending plumes of smoke up into the troposphere.

Most of the fires have been set—by big landowners, commercial loggers, and small farmers—in attempts to clear and cultivate the land, as people have done in the past. But this year a drought induced by El Niño limited the rainfall that could help extinguish the flames and wash away the smoke and haze. In addition, some scientists say that smoke could even delay the monsoon, which usually arrives in early November.