START OF DRY SEASON FOR THE NORTHERN SOUTHEAST ASIA REGION
Increased risk of fires and transboundary haze in Mekong sub-region
Singapore, 14 December 2023 – The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) has today issued Alert Level 1 for the northern Southeast Asia region, indicating the start of the dry season. Dry weather conditions have been observed across the Mekong sub-region, particularly in parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR in recent days, as the Northeast Monsoon becomes firmly established. A deterioration in the hotspot and smoke haze situation may occur in the coming months with the setting in of dry weather conditions.
2 The hotspot count in the Mekong sub-region has been increasing gradually, with a total of 52 and 43 hotspots detected in the sub-region on 12 December 2023 and 13 December 2023 respectively. A few localised smoke plumes were detected in parts of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, but no transboundary smoke haze occurrence has been observed so far.
3 Current El Niño1 conditions are expected to persist at least until February – March 2024. This may result in warmer and drier than average conditions over some parts of the northern Southeast Asia region, with a higher risk of escalated hotspot activities and transboundary smoke haze occurrence in the Mekong sub-region. Early precautionary and mitigation measures are advised to prevent the occurrence of fires and transboundary haze in the region.
4 For regular and ad-hoc updates of the regional weather and smoke haze situation and early warnings, please visit the ASMC website at http://asmc.asean.org.
 El Niño is a naturally occurring climate pattern associated with changes in both the ocean and atmosphere in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, including an abnormal warming of the surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific. Typically lasting 9-12 months and occurring every three-five years, it produces widespread and at times severe changes in the global climate.
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