Many parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific may continue to experience moderate to exceptional water deficits in the coming months. As evident in the 12-month map below based on observed data through July 2015 and forecasts issued the last week of July 2015, Thailand, Cambodia, and the island of New Guinea may be hardest hit.

Thailand, one of the world's top producers of rice, has lowered its export forecast by 2 million tons due to drought. Thai government officials, anticipating that El Niño will prolong the effects, are recommending strict farm management to avoid a "water famine". Vietnam is pleading with Thailand not to proceed with a plan to divert water from the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's most important agricultural area. In Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province dozens of farmers scuffled over water access when upstream villagers closed gates of a dam, effectively cutting off a canal serving downstream users. As the government sends food and water to drought stricken regions, Papua New Guinea's prime minister warns that the drought could be the worst in decades, comparing it to the 1997-98 drought which claimed 500 lives.

The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions in more detail. From August through October severe to exceptional water deficits are forecast for most of the region, including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Deficits may persist or continue to emerge through April in Thailand, Cambodia, southern Vietnam, the Philippines, and the eastern side of the island of Borneo. (It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

Comment

Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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