SOUTHEAST ASIA & THE PACIFIC: WATER DEFICITS FORECAST FOR THE MALAY PENINSULA

29 May 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month map (below) indicates pockets of mild to moderate water deficit in Southeast Asia which may reach extreme intensity in a small pocket of eastern peninsular Malaysia. Though conditions will be normal in much of western Papua New Guinea, severe deficits are forecast elsewhere in the country and may be exceptional around the Gulf of Papua.

Extreme surpluses are forecast for central Philippines and some moderate deficits in the north. Primarily moderate surpluses are expected across northern Borneo; surpluses are also expected in South Kalimantan and may be extreme along the coast. Extreme surpluses are forecast for North Sulawesi, East Nusa Tengara, and Pulau Sumba. Some small pockets of moderate surplus are forecast for Sumatra’s northern and southern tip, and in Java.

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

The near-term forecast through July indicates a transition away from widespread, intense surplus to deficit. Mild deficits are forecast for Myanmar; moderate deficits for northern Cambodia, southern Vietnam, northern Luzon (Philippines), and pockets of eastern Sumatra and of Java. Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for peninsular Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, eastern Papua New Guinea, and western Timor Leste. Exceptional deficits are forecast for West Nusa Tengara. Moderate surpluses are expected to linger in north-central Vietnam and across northern Borneo and northern Sumatra. Extreme surpluses are forecast for central Philippines, North Sulawesi, East Nusa Tengara and nearby Pulau Sumba.

From August through October, moderate deficits will emerge in northern Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, with some pockets of severe deficit scattered throughout Thailand. Moderate deficits are also forecast for northern Philippines, peninsular Malaysia, and central Sumatra. Deficits will shrink in Papua New Guinea but persist along the southern coast; extreme deficits will spread in Timor Leste; and West Nusa Tengara will transition from deficit to normal conditions. Some surpluses will persist in central Philippines, northeastern Borneo, North Sulawesi, East Nusa Tengara and Pulau Sumba, and pockets will emerge in central Papua, Indonesia.

The forecast for the final months – November through January – indicates moderate deficits in Southeast Asia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea, with more intense deficits in western Myanmar.

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

IMPACTS
Tornados and heavy rain hit parts of the Indonesian island of Java last month amid the transition from rainy season (October through April) to dry season (May to September). Damage from flooding, landslides, and high winds included blocked roads, inundated rice fields, and blackouts from downed electricity poles.

The rainy season is just beginning for much of Southeast Asia, and a new federal water management agency created by the Thai government in December will face its first test managing the nation's water reserves. Tasked with directing and coordinating water reserves through 20 existing state agencies, the Office of National Water Resources must insure that reservoirs hold enough water for agricultural use without risking overflow from unplanned runoff during excessive precipitation events. The creation of the agency followed disastrous flooding in 2011 when heavy rainfall combined with excessive reservoir storage caused overflows.

Over 200 houses in 12 districts of Thailand were damaged by summer thunderstorms late last month that affected thousands of people, particularly in the northeastern provinces. The rains extended southward, causing traffic hang-ups in Bangkok. Storms continued this month in the north, with floodwaters and lightning damaging dozens of homes and killing one person. Soldiers were deployed to help repair homes and buildings.

The Cambodian government has stockpiled 12,000 tonnes (13,228 tons) of rice and seeds to support rural Cambodians who might find themselves in the midst of disaster. The Cambodian Water Resource Ministry said in late April that it expects more floods than last year over the next two months. Storms pelted multiple Cambodian provinces late last month, killing one person and injuring three others.

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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