Jayaprakash Murulitharan, University of Cambridge, Helena Varkkey, University of Malaya and Matthew Ashfold, University of Nottingham Malaysia
The almost annual haze in southern Southeast Asia originates from both natural and anthropogenic forest fires in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Forests are cleared for small-scale and commercial agriculture, which is often linked to key economic sectors like oil palm and pulpwood. The ‘slash and burn’ method is a cheap and quick way to prepare land for cultivation. If done on peatlands, this method involves drainage, making the area extremely fire-prone. Carbon-rich peat fires often extend underground where they are hard to control. Regional hot and dry weather patterns prolong the fires and transport smoke haze across borders.