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Join a Drone Over the Indonesian Fires Smoking Out an Entire Region

That's Borneo on the right, under all that smoke. Sumatra is on the left.

That's Borneo on the right, under all that smoke. Sumatra is on the left. // NASA

This summer a large swath of Southeast Asia has been covered by a persistent haze that’s led to health problemsfatal accidents, cancelled flights and events, costly counter-measures, and some surreal political bickering.

The haze occurs every dry season, when fires are set to make land suitable for pulp-and-paper or palm oil plantations on Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. But this year a strong El Niño climate phenomenon has created particularly dry conditions and led to fast-spreading fires, notes Guido van der Werf, a researcher at VU University Amsterdam. So far the fires have produced the equivalent, roughly, of Germany’s annual carbon-dioxide emissions, he tells Quartz.

A Greenpeace video posted on Oct. 6 shows footage taken by a camera-equipped drone as it flies over fires burning peatlands, rainforests, and palm oil plantations surrounding Indonesia’s Gunung Palung National Park on Borneo. The footage was shot Sept. 19-21. The image atop this article, from NASA’s Aqua satellite, was taken on Sept. 22.

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