The air quality in Singapore has been relatively good in recent weeks, despite earlier expectations of a return of the haze. But satellite experts say that hotspots in Sumatra are spreading, which could cause haze to return to Singapore in the later part of the year.

Southern Sumatra is expected to experience drier weather and also more hotspots in September. This could mean a likely return of haze in September and October this year.

The El Niño effect in the region, however, is expected to be weaker than usual, and this could moderate the impact of the haze. Favourable wind directions could also help, experts say.

“Currently most of the fires occur in the province of Riau, in central Sumatra. Singapore is at the south-east part of the hotspots area,” said Liew Soo Chin, Principal Research Scientist at the National University of Singapore Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing.

“The second factor is the wind direction. Currently the wind mainly blows from south to north. So that carries the haze towards the Kuala Lumpur side. (Because) Singapore is on the southern part of the hotspots area and the wind direction is not blowing towards us, we don’t get the haze,” he said.

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