Southeast Asia & the Pacific: Water deficits in Thailand will downgrade but will be severe

29 May 2019

The 12-month forecast through January 2020 indicates extreme to exceptional water deficits throughout Thailand and into northwestern Cambodia. Moderate deficits are forecast for much of the remainder of Cambodia as well as southern Laos, eastern Myanmar, and pockets of central and southern Vietnam.

Moderate to extreme deficits are expected in the Philippines, Malaysia, Borneo, pockets of Sumatra, Sulawesi, West Papua, and Papua New Guinea, where deficits will be exceptional around the Gulf of Papua.

Surpluses are forecast for the north-central coast of New Guinea around Jayapura.

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

The forecast through July indicates that deficits in Thailand and Cambodia will downgrade from exceptional. Deficits will be widespread and severe in Thailand and moderate in Cambodia. Laos will transition from surplus to moderate deficit and Vietnam will begin to transition. Moderate deficits are also forecast for eastern Myanmar. Severe to extreme deficits are forecast for peninsular Thailand and Malaysia. Various stages of transition from surplus to deficit are forecast for Indonesia, with deficits ranging from moderate to exceptional on Borneo and southern Sumatra, while surpluses are expected to linger in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast in southern Luzon, Philippines and Mindanao, and a pocket of surplus near Cebu. Deficits will downgrade in Papua New Guinea but will remain intense around the Gulf of Papua. Surpluses around Japapura on the central north shore of New Guinea will moderate.

From August through October, deficits will continue to downgrade in Southeast Asia, leaving primarily moderate deficits in Thailand and scattered small pockets in the rest of the region. More intense deficits are forecast during this period for Malaysia and many parts of Indonesia, and deficits will be particularly intense in pockets of Borneo. Moderate surpluses will emerge in northern Sumatra and moderate deficits are forecast in the east and south. Deficits in the Philippines will downgrade and shrink somewhat. In New Guinea, surpluses on the north coast will nearly disappear, deficits in Papua New Guinea will downgrade overall but the extent of moderate deficits will increase, and moderate to severe deficits will increase in West Papua.

The forecast for the final months – November 2019 through January 2020 – indicates primarily moderate deficits in Thailand and pockets of Southeast Asia and Borneo, and moderate to severe deficits in Philippines, Sulawesi, the Lesser Sunda Islands, and New Guinea.

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

Floods and landslides killed 30 people and prompted a state of emergency in the Indonesian Bengkulu Province late last month. Flooding was allegedly worsened by deforestation and other intensive land use in the area, causing massive runoff of heavy rains. In Jakarta, the heavy rains caused flash flooding with up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water in 17 communities. The recent flooding comes one month after over 100 people were killed in Indonesia’s Papua province by floods and landslides.

Indonesia’s president approved a long-term plan to move the country’s capital from flood-prone and polluted Jakarta.

Thirteen districts in five provinces in Thailand have been declared drought-hit by the country’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, and the government warned early this month that a dozen provinces are at risk of water shortages. All water authorities have been ordered to follow a water shortage plan, including distribution of drinking water and emergency maintenance of water distribution systems.

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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