During September and October 2015, agricultural burning in Indonesia caused an air quality disaster. Burning during this time of year is not uncommon, but the large 2015 El Niño resulted in extremely low precipitation in both Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo). As reported in Field et al., (2016), measurements of pollution from satellite observations, including carbon monoxide (CO) from MOPITT, all show large increases when precipitation is lower than 4 mm/day. Since fires in Indonesia are mostly set for clearing land or fertilization, this study recommends limiting agricultural burning for low precipitation forecasts. In addition, many of the fires in Indonesia are used to clear peat swamp forests that are drained for farming, which have much higher stored carbon than other forests. This carbon is released to the atmosphere when the peat is burned. Using MOPITT data, Jiang et al., (2016) estimated that the Indonesian fires in October, 2015 emitted 92 Tg of CO, which is about 3 times higher than the 2006 El Niño driven fires.
Field, R. et al., 2015 Indonesian fire activity and smoke pollution show persistent non-linear sensitivity to El Niño-induced drought, PNAS, 2016, 9204–9209, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1524888113
Jiang, Z., Worden, J. R., Worden, H., Deeter, M., Jones, D. B. A., Arellano, A. F., and Henze, D. K.: A fifteen year record of CO emissions constrained by MOPITT CO observations, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-811, in review, 2016.