East Asia: Widespread, intense water deficits forecast for Mongolia & Inner Mongolia

21 February 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast map for East Asia (below) indicates widespread deficits reaching exceptional severity across Mongolia and northern China from Xinjiang through Inner Mongolia.

Moderate deficits are forecast for Northeast China and the Korean Peninsula, but conditions may be more severe in eastern Liaoning and eastern Heilongjiang, China and surrounding Seoul, South Korea. Severe deficits are forecast for Guizhou and Hunan, China.

Conditions of moderate to extreme surplus are expected in the Han River Basin in Hubei, China and eastward to Shanghai.

Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for Japan.

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

The near-term forecast through April indicates that the extent of exceptional deficits in Mongolia and across the border into China will increase, creating a vast stretch from Xinjiang through Inner Mongolia. Exceptional deficits are also expected to emerge in Liaoning during this period, extreme deficits will emerge in Hunan, and deficits in Shandong will downgrade from exceptional to severe. Deficits are forecast to spread on the Korean Peninsula and are expected to be intense in Seoul.

Surpluses ranging from severe to exceptional remain in the forecast from Shanghai west through 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 emerge. Moderate to severe surpluses will continue to emerge around the Gulf of Tonkin and in Hainan.

Conditions in Japan will transition from surplus to nearly normal in the south and some pockets of deficit in the north.

The forecast for May through July indicates some retreat of exceptional deficits across northern China and Mongolia, but a large block will emerge in western Inner Mongolia, and moderate to extreme deficits will continue to emerge in Northeast China. Deficits on the Korean Peninsula are expected to shrink but will persist near Seoul. Aforementioned widespread surpluses in China will diminish considerably and downgrade in severity. Moderate surpluses will emerge on lower and middle reaches of the Yellow River. Widespread moderate to severe deficits are expected to emerge in southeastern China. Conditions around the Gulf of Tonkin and in Hainan will become nearly normal.

The forecast for the final months, August through October, indicates persistent, intense deficits from Xinjiang through western Inner Mongolia and south-central Mongolia, and deficits of lesser severity in southern China, North Korea, and Japan.

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

IMPACTS
Harsh conditions this winter may create the third consecutive year of "dzud" in Mongolia - a severe winter following a summer drought - threatening livestock and the livelihood of herders. Temperatures fell to almost -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit) in late January and were expected to continue through February. The IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) released US$277,000 to assist 2,500 herders with cash grants and supplies.

Heavy precipitation - both snow and rain - has created havoc in parts of China recently. In Hubei Province snow forced closure or restricted travel on parts of over 20 highways, and canceled 100 trains in Wuhan. Over 900 repair workers were dispatched to restore power to 1,000 stations in the region. The snow collapsed 500 greenhouses and destroyed 13,333 hectares of crop. In Zhejiang Province, at least 100 flights were canceled, as well as in Jiangsu Province. Shoppers at a mall in Nanjing, Jiangsu helped rescue three people after the roof collapsed from the weight of the snow. More than 4,000 people had to be relocated from snow-damaged homes in Anhui Province.

A Sea of Japan snow storm dropped up to 1.94 meters (6.36 feet) of snow in western Japan in early February, causing several deaths and stranding 1500 cars on a main road in the northwestern city of Fukui. The federal government will use special grant tax revenue to assist local governments in expenses related to snow removal and gas distribution.

Inspired by flood damage from the 2011 tsunami, a Japanese startup has built a prototype for a floatable, watertight electric car. Though it won't withstand powerful flood currents, the vehicle can propel and steer effectively via propulsion while floating with wheels completely submerged.

Prolonged drought in South Korea has created additional fuel stock for forest fires, resulting in an increase in burned area nearly 27 times that of last year at this time.

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. 

Comment

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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