On August 22, 2004, clouds and smoke swirled over the islands that sit between Australia and Asia, at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Large islands pictured here are Borneo (right), Java (bottom), and Sumatra (left) At top left is the southern tip of mainland Malaysia. In each of these places, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite detected actively burning fires (marked in red). Over the weekend of August 21, the haze in Singapore (at the southern tip of mainland Malaysia), at least some of which was smoke from the fires, was so severe that air traffic was interrupted.
The island is politically divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. In the north, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up about 26% of the island. Additionally, the Malaysian federal territory of Labuan is situated on a small island just off the coast of Borneo. The sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo’s land area. A little more than half of the island is in the Northern Hemisphere including Brunei and the Malaysian portion, while the Indonesian portion spans both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Credit: NASA image by Jesse Allen, based on data from the MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA-GSFC