East Asia: Widespread water surpluses forecast south of Yangtze River

27 November 2018

The 12-month forecast for East Asia through July 2019 indicates widespread intense surpluses for Northeast China in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and northern Inner Mongolia; along the Ordos Loop and Upper Reaches of the Yellow River; in Qinghai and Sichuan; and in Tibet. Surpluses of somewhat lesser intensity are forecast for the Pearl River watershed in the south.

Deficits reaching exceptional intensity are forecast in a block encompassing parts of Shanxi, Henan, Hubei and eastern Sichuan. Severe deficits are forecast for western Inner Mongolia through Xinjiang along with conditions of both deficit and surplus as transitions occur.

In Japan, some surpluses are forecast for southern Honshu and Kyushu and in western Hokkaido; deficits are expected around Fukushima. Nearly normal conditions are forecast for the Korean Peninsula. In Mongolia, moderate surpluses are forecast along rivers in the north, and pockets of deficit scattered across the south.

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

In the November through January forecast widespread surpluses are expected south of the Yangtze River and through much of the Pearl River watershed. Widespread, intense surpluses will persist in Northeast China and in western Sichuan, Qinghai, and Tibet. Widespread deficits are forecast north of the Yangtze in Hubei, eastern Sichuan, Shaanxi, Henan, Shanxi, and Hebei. Deficits will be extreme to exceptional in Hebei. Intense deficits are also forecast in western Liaoning, and moderate deficits on the Shandong Peninsula. Deficits are expected to increase and intensify across southern Mongolia and from western Inner Mongolia, China through Xinjiang with conditions of both deficit and surplus in areas of transition.

On the Korean Peninsula, moderate surpluses are forecast in the south and moderate deficits in the north. Some moderate surpluses are also forecast for pockets of southern Japan, and moderate deficits in Fukushima.

From February through April, deficits will increase and intensify in southern Mongolia and from central Inner Mongolia through Xinjiang, China, forming a vast stretch of deficits reaching severe to exceptional intensity. Deficits will also increase from eastern Sichuan in a broad, diagonal path northeast to the Bohai Sea, with extreme deficits at the intersection of Sichuan, Shaanxi, Chongqing, and Hubei. Widespread primarily moderate surpluses will persist from the Yangtze River south. Intense surpluses will persist in Northeast China and in Qinghai, western Sichuan, and Tibet. Near-normal conditions are forecast for the Korean Peninsula. In Japan, some moderate deficits are forecast for southern Honshu, but deficits in the north will increase and intensify.

The forecast for the final three months – May through July – indicates that surpluses in China will downgrade overall, with nearly normal conditions returning to the Northeast. Deficits will also downgrade overall but exceptional deficits are forecast for a large block of western Inner Mongolia. Deficits are expected to increase in Japan.

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

At US$5.2 billion, insurance losses from Typhoon Jebi which hit Japan in early September made the record high for insured storm losses in Japan. The number of accepted insurance claims reached 825,091, comprised mostly of property damage claims with auto and miscellaneous claims accounting for around 16 percent. The previous record was just over $5 billion in 1991 after Typhoon Mireille. Losses from Typhoon Trami, which hit the island nation less than a month after Jebi, piled on another $2-to-$4 billion.

Cherry blossom trees are blooming six months early in Japan this year thanks to storms followed by warm temperatures. A Japanese tree surgeon attributed the phenomenon to recent typhoons having stripped the leaves, preventing the release of certain hormones the leaves produce that block premature flowering. The early budding was limited, though, and the trees are expected to present blossoms in the spring as usual, ensuring the treasured seasonal rite-of-passage celebrated throughout the nation.

A cryptocurrency exchange site has reportedly raised $1.41 million in digital currency donations for flood relief in Japan. Flooding and landslides between June and mid-July killed hundreds and forced 8 million people to evacuate.

A former Chinese premier is warning that water insecurity poses an existential threat to China, and a leading Chinese conservationist says that desertification of Beijing is “inevitable.” Last winter Beijing went its longest stretch, 112 days, without any precipitation.

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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