Southeast Asia & the Pacific: Thailand & Cambodia to transition out of water deficit

19 June 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through February 2020 indicates water deficits throughout most of Thailand and into northwestern Cambodia. Deficits will be severe to exceptional in northern Thailand.

Severe deficits are forecast for parts of the Malay Peninsula and a pocket in northeastern Sumatra. Primarily moderate deficits are expected in southern Sumatra, some pockets of central Java and Indonesian Borneo, and Mindoro and Samar Islands in central Philippines. Deficits are forecast for Papua New Guinea in a shore-to-shore column down the center of the nation and will be exceptional around the Gulf of Papua in the south.

Pockets of surplus are forecast in central and southern Myanmar and will be intense in the Irrawaddy Delta in the south. Other areas of surplus include north-central Laos; the Mekong Delta; Cebu, Philippines; Flores Island, Indonesia; and the north-central coast of New Guinea around Jayapura.

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

The forecast through August indicates that intense deficits in Thailand and Cambodia will disappear leaving mild deficits in Thailand and nearly normal water conditions in most of Cambodia. Surpluses will shrink considerably in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. Moderate to severe surpluses are forecast from north-central Laos into northern Vietnam, in southwestern Cambodia, and a few regions in Vietnam including the Mekong Delta and near Da Nang. Intense deficits are forecast for a pocket in peninsular Thailand and the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia. Moderate to severe deficits are expected in southern Indonesian Borneo and Java, and slightly more intense deficits in southern Sumatra, transitioning from surplus. Deficits will downgrade in Papua New Guinea but will be severe. Surpluses in Indonesia Papua will shrink and downgrade.

From September through November, conditions will normalize throughout much of the region. Some pockets of surplus are forecast in Myanmar, northern Sumatra, and Indonesian Papua. Relatively mild deficits are forecast for Thailand, southwestern Sumatra, and Indonesian Borneo. Intense deficits will persist along the western Gulf of Papua in Papua New Guinea.

The forecast for the final months – December 2019 through February 2020 – indicates nearly normal conditions in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Exceptional deficits will emerge in southern Myanmar including the Irrawaddy Delta. Relatively mild deficits are forecast for central Myanmar, Thailand, pockets of Vietnam, and central Philippines.

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

IMPACTS
Floods and landslides hit central Indonesia this month following days of heavy rain, killing at least one person and displacing 2,000 others. Widespread flooding on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi halted some nickel mining operations in mid-June. Indonesia is a major supplier of nickel ore and nickel pig to China’s stainless steel production.

At least 1,000 villagers in several settlements in the Malaysian state of Sarawak evacuated when they were inundated with up to three meters (9.8 feet) of flood waters following heavy rain early this month.

Footage of giant catfish carcasses being pulled out of a dried-out reservoir circulated this month, highlighting Thailand’s struggle with increased drought. Fishermen that participated in the attempted rescue reported that this was the first incident of its kind that they’ve witnessed in the area.  This year’s rainy season is forecast to come up short relative to the average.

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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