SOUTHEAST ASIA & THE PACIFIC: EXCEPTIONAL DEFICITS FORECAST FOR PENINSULAR MALAYSIA

26 April 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month map (below) indicates deficits in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. Deficits are forecast to be severe to exceptional in northwestern Thailand, along its border with Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia, and along the Gulf of Papua.

Water surpluses are forecast in central Philippines, northeastern Borneo and south Kalimantan Borneo, eastern Java, Bali, Sumba, and Flores.

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail.

The near-term forecast through June indicates a transition away from surplus to deficit. Deficits are forecast for Southeast Asia, Peninsular Malaysia, northern Sumatra, Luzon and Mindanao in the Philippines, western Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo, and parts of Sulawesi Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The most intense deficits are expected in Peninsular Malaysia, ranging from severe to exceptional and reaching across the Malacca Strait to northern Sumatra. Severe deficits are forecast for much of Thailand, and primarily moderate deficits in Myanmar and central and northern Laos. The extent of exceptional deficit in Cambodia will shrink, persisting in a pocket northeast of Tonlé Sap, surrounded by moderate deficits in the remainder of the country. Severe deficits are forecast for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. Moderate to extreme surpluses are forecast for central Philippines, and small pockets of surplus are forecast throughout Indonesia.

From July through September water anomalies in the region will diminish leaving nearly normal conditions in Vietnam, Laos, and much of Indonesia. However, moderate to extreme deficits are forecast to persist in Peninsular Malaysia; and primarily moderate deficits are forecast in Thailand, Cambodia, northeastern Borneo, and eastern Mindanao. Some moderate surpluses will continue to emerge in central Philippines.

The forecast for the final months – October through December – indicates moderate deficit in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the island of New Guinea.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

IMPACTS
Heavy rains over the past two months have caused flooding and landslides across four Indonesian provinces. Java was hard hit in late February: 15 deaths were reported, 50,000 people were affected, and 10,000 homes damaged. Precipitation continued throughout March, bringing flooding and landslides to North Sumatra, West Sulawesi, and East Kalimantan, and continued in April, striking Java again. Landslides have caused 53 fatalities in Indonesia so far this year, more than from any other type of disaster.

The UNPD is teaming up with the government of Vietnam to provide up to 4,000 storm-proof homes to families living in Vietnam’s vulnerable coastal areas. The intent is to provide better protection against extreme weather, such as typhoons, but also to provide a means of protecting the assets of low-income families who deplete reserves when trying to recover from repeated storms. More than 15 typhoons hit Vietnam in 2017.

Drought along the south-central coast of Vietnam is impacting local residents and livestock. Eleven of 21 reservoirs have dried up in Ninh Thuan Province and farmers are being encouraged to halt agricultural activity to conserve resources.

Saltwater intrusion has become an ongoing concern in the Mekong Delta where hydroelectric projects upstream coupled with repeated droughts have reduced the river's flow. In 2016, drought and saltwater intrusion caused agricultural losses of VND15 trillion (US$669 million) in Vietnam.

Thailand is currently in a better position this year to deal with the approaching dry season than it was last year. The country's reservoirs are at 67 percent of capacity, 14 percent above their level at this time last year.

An uptick in extreme weather in the Philippines has pushed more women to migrate seeking better economic fortunes. More than 10 million Filipinos work abroad, 55 percent of whom are women, a change reflected in the last few years.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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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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