Wednesday, July 10, 2013

National resilience during haze crisis: MEWR Minister Vivian Balakrishnan's comments on haze crisis confusing

Please spread the word about our Haze Survey:

Am posting this one day late lest Singapore's Minister for Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's comments in Parliament were misquoted. There was no correction in today's 90 cents newspaper, so here goes.

First, the minister's comment on using unspecified "new satellites" with finer resolution to monitor the region for areas which are aflame (i.e. hot spots) is puzzling.

"We need resolution down to about one- to two-kilometre range, to be able to identify a hot spot. The new satellites will also have greater spectral sensitivity, which means you can also see fires at an early stage, maybe even at the underground level," said Dr Balakrishnan (More resources for early warning system, The Straits Times, 9 July 2013, Home page B6)

As satellites used for remote sensing now offer resolution in the single- and double-digit range in metres, it is puzzling why the range bracket measured in kilometres was cited by the minister.

If there was good reason for this poor resolution, it may have been advisable for the minister to explain why as laypersons may feel Singapore's approach to using geospatial information as a tripwire for detecting hot spots could employ better eyes (pun intended).

Second, the minister's explanation on why he did not authorise the release of spot readings for the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) are noteworthy.

In her commentary "Trust needed for govt role as info provider and regulator" (ST 9 July 2013, Home page B7), ST deputy political editor Lydia Lim noted:"He (the minister) said Singapore was in the midst of updating the way it measures air pollutants and that he thought hard before deciding to turn down public requests for real-time data during the recent haze crisis.

" 'Why? I decided not to do so because the risk of confusion or worse, publishing unverified or inaccurate data, was too high. I could not take that risk in the middle of a crisis,' he said."

It is interesting that the minister described the haze situation as a "crisis".

His comments on PSI data are interesting to mull over because if one-hour PSI data can be inaccurate, then what about the three-hour PSI which is based on the average PSI over a three-hour time span?

What more can be done to reduce the likelihood of data collection and analysis errors?

Through this haze crisis, our emergency planners have an excellent opportunity to push budgets for sought-after items on their wish lists and strengthen national preparedness not if, but when the haze crisis returns.

We can only do so if the proper learning points distilled from this crisis.


Anonymous said...

OH NO! you mean, we, as a 1st world country, have a meteorological department that are unable to churn out simple data?

Anonymous said...

FYI: "The provided spatial resolution will be 10 m for the nominal altitude of 685 km, thus enabling a swath width of 50 km."

from wikipedia entry on X-SAT

Anonymous said...

X-sat is almost then same altitude as LANDSAT (approx. 705km) but don't come with a thermal imager.

LANDSAT has an advance thermal imager with resolution of 60 meter(Wikipedia information).

However LANDSAT is not geosynchronous orbiting, and takes 16 days to return to the same spot to take the photo, the haze in Singapore lasted only 7 days giving a window period of 9 days.

The best is a geosynchronous satellite with thermal imager like the GOES that US uses.

But geosynchronous satellite needs to be at 35,000 km from earth (compare to LANDSAT 700km), as a result of distance....the thermal resolution is a pathetic 4KM.

Anonymous said...

For more information about the satellites Singapore uses for dealing with the Indonesia fire.

please visit the website below.

There you will find the figure of 4KM thermal resolution for the geosynchrous satellite MTSAT.

Anonymous said...

It's good to be careful when writing about Vivian, Shanmugan, Hri Kumar and most especially Janil. These 4 are the most likely to most threaten legal action.

Anyway leave Janil alone. He has excused himself from serving NS because as doctor he has (quote) "spent the last 10 years saving kids lives."

Anonymous said...

This "gay" Vivian is Nothing but a joke. When letting him in charged of YOG, he spent over 3 million(way over budget). Disorganised during the event and even Food Poisoning. He is nothing but a bootlicker and a lips talker.

Anonymous said...