Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Water deficits forecast for Yucatan

28 February 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast ending October 2019 indicates moderate to severe water deficits in the Baja and Yucatan Peninsulas of Mexico, and moderate deficits in Chihuahua and small pockets peppered throughout the south. Severe surpluses are forecast in northern Coahuila and surpluses of lesser intensity along its border with Durango and in Zacatecas.

In Central America, moderate deficits are forecast in central Guatemala, El Salvador, and in western Honduras along the Ulúa River. Some pockets of surplus are forecast for Nicaragua, eastern Honduras, and southern Guatemala, and intense deficits are forecast for western Panama. Primarily moderate deficits are expected in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and western and eastern Cuba.

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

The forecast through April indicates that surpluses in northern Coahuila, Mexico will downgrade slightly but remain intense, and intense surpluses will persist along Sinaloa’s northern coast on the Gulf of California. Surpluses will also persist along a diagonal from Zacatecas through Mexico City into northern Oaxaca, broken by a pocket of exceptional deficits in southern Puebla.

Moderate to extreme deficits are expected in the northern Yucatan Peninsula and in Nayarit on the Pacific Coast. Moderate deficits are forecast in southern Chihuahua and well into northern Durango and in pockets of Baja. Deficits of varying intensity are forecast in scattered small pockets throughout the southern states.

Much of Central America will transition out of surplus, with conditions of both deficit and surplus (purple) forecast. Intense deficits are forecast for western Panama. Deficits in Cuba and Hispaniola will downgrade considerably, becoming primarily mild, but moderate deficits will emerge in eastern Jamaica.

From May through July, anomalies in southern Mexico and Central America will downgrade and diminish, with mild to moderate deficits forecast. Deficits will intensify on the Baja Peninsula, becoming severe and reaching across the Gulf of California to Hermosillo, Sonora, with moderate deficits in pockets of northwestern Mexico. Primarily moderate surpluses will emerge in Monterey, Tamaulipas, and central San Luis Potosí, and will linger in northern Coahuila and Zacatecas. Moderate surpluses will also emerge in northwestern Costa Rica. Mild deficits are forecast in the Caribbean.

For the final three months – August through October – surpluses in Mexico will diminish, deficits will intensify in Baja, and moderate to severe deficits will emerge in the Yucatan, southern Mexico, and most of northern Central America. Surpluses will emerge in eastern Nicaragua.

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

IMPACTS
Eight people were killed in the Mexican state of Guerrero in what was possibly a water dispute over control of a water spring. A few dozen people were holding a ceremony praying for rains at the spring near an opium field, when three men arrived and at least one opened fire on the group.

The Panama Canal Authority claims that January was Panama’s driest month in the last 106 years, adding that there has been no rainfall in the watershed since November 23.

A surge in avocado exports from Mexico, Chile, and Peru to China has correlated with an increase water resource conflicts. Mexico’s National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research claims that 2,000 liters (528 gallons) of water is required to produce one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of avocados. The avocado market outcompetes forestry, contributing to deforestation in some areas, like Michoacán State.

Land and water use changes around the United States-Mexico border following the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement appear to have bolstered agricultural production at the expense of Mexican aquifers, according to a recent study. To meet U.S. demand for fruits and vegetables over the last few decades, irrigated cultivation expanded in the semi-arid climate of Mexico and has since led to depletion of regional groundwater and overexploitation of the Colorado River and the Rio Grande.

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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