Southeast Asia & the Pacific: Water deficits persist in Thailand, Cambodia, Malay Peninsula (August 22, 2016)
The Big Picture
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and the Malay Peninsula are forecast to continue in conditions of water deficit (below). Water surpluses are forecast for western Borneo, parts of Java, western Flores Island, and West Papua, Indonesia.
Dry, hot weather in Thailand is expected to cut exports of exotic fruits by 50 percent this year. Drought has reduced production in rain-fed farms, while heat affected the quality of produce in irrigated systems. Prices for durian - the smelly though beloved "king of fruits" in many parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific - have sky-rocketed as drought claimed 50,000 trees in the Philippines and decimated crops in Malaysia.
Years of below average rainfall, along with recommendations from the government, could shift Thai farmers away from water-intensive rice - a way of life for generations - to sugarcane or peas.
Drought in Cambodia threatens seedlings in key rice-producing provinces. And though the rainy season has begun, it hasn't been enough to save some rice farmers in Laos who lost seedlings due to hot, dry conditions, or - anticipating loss - simply didn't plant.
Indonesian palm oil exports are expected to drop to a three-year low, with drought as a contributing factor.
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail. From August through October water deficits will persist in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, pockets of the Malay Peninsula, and Timor-Leste, with greatest extent and severity in Cambodia.
Surpluses in western Borneo will diminish by September; surpluses on Java, and Flores Island will diminish also, though may persist longer. Surpluses in West Papua will diminish in severity, while surpluses in the center of the island of New Guinea will increase in extent. Deficits in Papua New Guinea are expected to diminish in extent.
From November through January deficits will persist in Southeast Asia, increase in extent and severity on the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, and will emerge in northeastern Borneo.
In the later months of the forecast – February through April – moderate (5 to 10 years) to exceptional (greater than 40 years) deficits are forecast for Southeast Asia, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra. Deficits of lesser severity are forecast throughout the remainder of the region.
(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)
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