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4 Oct 2016 | Blog

Lessons from a biomass burning workshop

Bhupendra Das

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International Biomass Burning Workshop, Jakarta (courtesy of Biomass Burning Workshop)

Since the 1990’s, Southeast Asia and other neighbouring countries are affected by excessive vegetative burning. Anthropogenic fires —  fires resulting from, or the influence of, human beings — have become the most economic tool for clearing native vegetation for agriculture as well as expansion of settlement. Moreover, the periodic recurrence of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) favours the spread of land-use fires over uncontrolled wildfires which has resulted into native ecosystems loss, injuries and premature deaths of smoke-affected populations. In Southeast Asia, limited attention has been made by policy makers as well as public to the concerns of vegetative fire smoke pollution on human health and security.

My journey started in late August when I traveled from Nepal to Jakarta for an international workshop on biomass burning ‘Forecasting Emissions from Vegetation Fires and their Impacts on Human Health and Security in South East Asia’. The workshop provided an opportunity for me to learn about the most recent research being conducted in Indonesia and other countries around the world. More than 17 scientific papers on vegetative/wild fire emission including six poster presentations and various vegetative/wild fire emission forecasting models were presented from more than ten countries. I was the only international participant to present a poster. The title of my poster was ‘A Model-ready Emission Inventory for Crop Residue Open Burning in the Context of Nepal’. The poster presentation was a chance to gain deeper understanding on the subject through interactions with global scientists and researchers working in the field.

A group exercise on biomass burning impact and management.
(courtesy of Biomass Burning Workshop)

The training program on emissions forecasting, especially for wildfires and other vegetative emission, lasted three inspirational days. The first day, I was inspired by a lecture from CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere flagship, Australia where I learned about controlled experiments in the field, emission measurement techniques, emission factors, plume distribution, and air quality impacts on public health. I learned the latest analysis of 2015 air quality data set in Australian cases and was motivated by the training on ‘R-studio/Open air’. Now, I am able to run the R-Studio/Open air tool for producing spatial and temporal variation as well as pollution rose of pollutants of global including Nepal.

The second day, I was introduced to various global fire emission forecasting models that were highlighted by various international modelling experts and had the chance to learn SILAM software/tool as developed by Finnish Meteorological Institute. I am now able to track data and maps on the air quality of Nepal and globally.

Day three had me quite confident. By working in exercise groups, I sharpened my presentation skills. The workshop was fruitful as I got myself up-to-date with the most recent research topics through face-to-face question and answers. I also had the opportunity to network with the international scientific research committee, scientists, researchers, and modelling teams.

These workshops are crucial to the HKH region for the opportunities they present. They’re also a way of connecting the international community and widening research areas.

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