Southeast Asia & the Pacific: Widespread deficits forecast for much of Borneo & New Guinea

23 July 2018

The 12-month map (below) indicates intense water deficits in Papua New Guinea that may be exceptional around the Gulf of Papua. Intense deficits are also expected in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Deficits of varying severity are forecast for Indonesian Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Timor, West Papua, pockets of peninsular Malaysia, northeastern Sumatra, eastern Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines, southeastern Thailand into northwestern Cambodia, and Vietnam east of Hanoi.

Exceptional surpluses are forecast for western Myanmar. Surplus areas of varying severity include: southern Myanmar, northern Laos into northwestern Vietnam, eastern Cambodia reaching into Laos and Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur and across the Malacca Strait to north-central Sumatra, northeastern Malaysian Borneo, and East Nusa Tenggara.

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

The near-term forecast through September indicates a transition away from widespread, intense surplus to deficit. Notably, moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for much of Borneo, Sulawesi, New Guinea, Java, pockets in Sumatra, and eastern Mindanao. Deficits are expected to increase in peninsular Malaysia. In Southeast Asia, deficits will diminish somewhat in northwestern Cambodia but will increase nearby in southeastern Thailand. Moderate to extreme deficits will emerge in northern Vietnam east of Hanoi, and some moderate deficits will emerge in north central Vietnam and central Myanmar.

Surpluses are forecast for western and southern Myanmar, northern Laos, northwestern Vietnam, eastern Cambodia into Vietnam, central Philippines, and East Nusa Tenggara. Surpluses are expected to be especially intense in western Myanmar and along the Sittaung River, Vietnam’s Central Highlands, and East Nusa Tenggara.

From October through December, surpluses will nearly disappear in the region, lingering along the Sittaung River in southern Myanmar and from the southern Malaysian Peninsula into central Sumatra. Moderate to extreme deficits are expected in the rest of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Philippines, as well as pockets of Malaysia and southern Sumatra. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for central Myanmar (Myitnge River), the eastern half of Thailand into Laos and western Cambodia, central Vietnam. Severe deficits will persist in a pocket of northeast Vietnam east of Hanoi.

The forecast for the final months – January through March – indicates that deficits in Malaysia and Indonesia will diminish, transitioning to normal or moderate surplus conditions in many areas. Deficits are expected persist elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Philippines, and New Guinea.

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

For over two weeks, the entire world watched as a harrowing cave rescue in Thailand was complicated by relentless heavy rain. A soccer team of 12 boys and their coach entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Chiang Rai province, Thailand and were trapped by flooding. Water, sand, and mud made the 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) passage to the chamber where the team was located impassable to divers. A Thai Navy SEAL died returning from a mission to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave. After two weeks, rescue teams of 18 international cave diving experts were able to remove 4 of the 12 boys. All twelve players and their coach were eventually rescued.

Floods and landslides killed at least 23 people in northern Vietnam late last month. Over 80 houses were swept away and more than 700 hectares (1,729 acres) of rice fields were damaged. Total damages were estimated at USD $23.2 million.

Thousands of people were displaced by a flash flood in southern Myanmar last month. Damages to pagodas, schools, houses, and infrastructure is estimated at USD $474,000, and over 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares) of cultivated fields flooded. Dozens of temporary relief camps were set up to accommodate flood victims.

Singapore’s third desalination plant opened late last month, enabling 30 percent of Singapore’s water needs to be met through desalination. The plant cost $217 million (USD $159 million).

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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