Southeast Asia & the Pacific: Water deficits forecast for Thailand, Cambodia, Malay Peninsula, Timor

The Big Picture
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and the Malay Peninsula are forecast to continue in conditions of water deficit through March 2017 (below). Water surpluses are forecast for western Borneo, parts of Java, and western Flores Island.

Impacts
The European Union's humanitarian arm, ECHO, says that the El Niño-induced drought in Vietnam has left 1 million people in need of food assistance and 2 million people lacking access to drinking water. In part due to the impact of drought on agriculture, the World Bank cut Vietnam's 2016 growth outlook to 6.0 percent from 6.2 percent.

Livestock deaths in northeastern Cambodia continued into June, as drought devastated the region. In Siem Pang district of Stung Treng, between 20 and 40 percent - at least 200 animals - have perished, leaving villagers with nothing to sell to finance food, medicine and other necessities. 

In what Conservation International's Cambodia director describes as "a disaster," nearly 250,000 acres of wetland forest around Tonle Sap Lake -  the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia - have burned since January due to drought and land-clearing. As a major fishery, Tonle is the source of 75 percent of the country's protein intake.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail. From July through September deficits in Thailand, Laos, and the Malay Peninsula are forecast to diminish somewhat in extent and severity. Widespread exceptional deficits (greater than 40 years) will persist in Cambodia. Exceptional deficits will emerge in the Mekong Delta in July and deficits of exceptional severity are also forecast for Timor through October. Deficits along the northern coast of New Guinea and in Papua New Guinea are forecast to gradually diminish through March.

Surpluses in western Borneo will gradually diminish through September; surpluses on Java, and Flores Island will diminish also, though may persist a month longer. Sumatra will transition from surplus to deficit beginning in September when moderate deficits will emerge in Riau (central Sumatra) and spread throughout much of the island through March. Deficits will begin to emerge in northern Borneo in the later months of the forecast. From January through March deficits may increase in severity and spread in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

(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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