Closer to the equator

A mere 12 hour flight separates Sweden from Singapore. Twelve hours is really not very long, just half a day! But coming from Sweden, where the fresh air already feels crispy in the mornings and the yellow leaves signal that autumn has arrived, to the heat, humidity and haze here in Singapore feels like worlds apart.

Singapore is a tropical country, located just one degree north of the equator, close to Malaysia and Indonesia, is and surrounded by the sea. Thus it is always very warm here (mean annual temperature 31 °C), always humid, and always rain; the vegetation is abundant and ever growing. Daily temperatures can range from a minimum of 23 to 26°C to a maximum of 31 to 34°C; humidity is between 90% in the early morning and around 60% in the afternoon, but can reach 100% during heavy and prolonged rain. Singapore does not have distinct wet or dry seasons – it rains all the time! However the months with highest rainfall are December and April, and those with less rainfall February and July.

Singapore’s different seasons are defined based on from where the wind blows:
December to early March is the North-East Monsoon Season, which means the wind blows from the northeast. Cloudy skies and frequent heavy rains mark the months of December and January, whereas it gets a bit drier in February and early March. Wind speeds can reach up to 30 to 40 km/h in January and February. The precursor to the South-West Monsoon between late March and May is characterized by early evening showers often with thunder and lighting and variable winds; and the South-West Monsoon Season between June and September sees scattered late morning and early afternoon showers. October and November are the months leading up to the North-East Monsoon. Winds are light and variable and scattered showers with thunder occur in the late afternoon and early evenings.

An interesting phenomenon are ‘Sumatras’ – lines of thunderstorms which usually occur between March and November. These develop at night over Sumatra or the Malacca Straits and move east towards Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia usually during the early morning.

Another interesting, yet much less fun phenomenon is haze. This year Singapore had extensive and long-lasting haze in September and early October. Haze is caused by suspension of very fine, dry particles in the air, which obscure the clarity of the sky, diminish visibility and decrease air quality. The air quality during the past month was so bad here, that it was almost impossible for people to be outside. The particles that make up the haze derive from large-scale forest fires in Indonesia and are transported by wind to neighboring regions. Forest clearance, which once was a small-scale farming method, has today become a tool of the palm oil industry to remove forest on a gigantic scale. So next time you wash your hair or eat chocolate, be aware that you contribute to the palm oil industry’s clearance of rain forests, to large scale haze pollution in Southeast Asia and to a reduction of endangered local wildlife!

The National Environment Agency
Pollution measurements
The Straits Times
The Guardian

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