East Asia: Intense water deficits forecast for Shandong & Mongolia

24 January 2018

The 12-month forecast map for East Asia (below) indicates widespread deficits across Mongolia and a wide band of deficits reaching exceptional severity in northern China including Inner Mongolia and northern Gansu. Moderate deficits are forecast in northeastern China and Shandong.

Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for a large block of southeastern China and into west central Taiwan.

Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for northern South Korea but conditions may be more intense near Seoul.

Surpluses ranging from moderate to exceptional are forecast in the Han (Hanjiang) River watershed, an eastern tributary of the Yangtze, and the eastern stretch of the Ordos Loop of the Yellow (Huang) River. Surpluses of varying severity are forecast in a band from northern Sichuan west through Tibet. Moderate surplus conditions are expected near Shanghai and Hainan.

A Japanese flood insurance company plans to use satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to quickly assess flood damages and identify policyholders’ eligibility for payments. The new method could reduce time by months between a large flood event and dissemination of payments compared to ground assessments. While insurance companies have used drones to survey earthquake damage in the past, the plan is expected to be the first to turn to satellites and AI as part of a standard insurance protocol for flood damage assessment. 

China's Meteorological Administration notes that drought in the southeastern province of Fujian is serious, with December rainfall averaging about 20 percent below normal, creating tension between some districts.

Northern China's Inner Mongolia region is estimated to have suffered US$770 million in economic losses due to drought in 2017, the region’s warmest year in 56 years. The drought raised costs of livestock herding and strained productivity of two of its most well-known grasslands: the Hulun Guir Grasslands and Xilin Gol League Grasslands. Some areas went forty days without precipitation this winter.

As previously reported in ISciences' 19 December 2017 blog post, Mongolia's 2017 wheat production is projected to be half of last year's due to drought. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization World Food Program has also assessed that other crops are similarly affected, with ripple effects that include farmers' loan defaults and reductions in seasonal labor.

China began constructing 16 major water conservation projects in 2017. Roughly US$407 billion has been invested in the nation's conservation projects since 2013.

The 3-month time series maps below show the evolving conditions in more detail.

The near-term forecast through March indicates that the extent of exceptional deficits in southern Mongolia and across the border into China will increase, creating a vast stretch from Xinjiang through eastern Inner Mongolia. Exceptional deficits are expected to emerge during this period in Shandong, China and severe to extreme deficits will continue to emerge in South Korea. The extent of deficits will increase in Fujian and Guangdong in southeastern China. Some severe deficits are forecast to emerge in Hunan and Guizhou. Conditions in Japan will transition from surplus to nearly normal conditions with some severe deficits near Tokyo.

Exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge in the Han River (Hanjiang) watersheds and the eastern stretch of the Ordos Loop of the Yellow (Huang) River. Exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge in northern Sichuan and Qinghai but conditions of both deficit and surplus are indicated as deficits begin to emerge. Exceptional surpluses are also forecast for central Tibet, and both deficits and surpluses are forecast for western China. Moderate to severe surpluses will continue to emerge around the Gulf of Tonkin and in Hainan.

The forecast for April through June indicates some retreat of exceptional anomalies, both deficits and surpluses. Widespread deficits will continue to emerge across Mongolia, northern and northwestern China, and will spread in northeast China. Deficits will be extreme across southern Mongolia. Moderate to extreme deficits will diminish slightly in southeastern China. Deficits will moderate in South Korea but linger near Seoul, and some moderate deficits are expected in Japan. Most aforementioned areas of exceptional surplus will retreat significantly, leaving moderate conditions with scattered pockets of exceptional surplus. Hainan and areas around the Gulf of Tonkin will transition from surplus to near-normal conditions.

The forecast for the final months, June through August, indicates persistent, intense deficits in western Inner Mongolia and deficits nearly as intense in southern Mongolia.

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

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. 


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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