East Asia: Water surpluses will persist but downgrade in SE China

17 September 2019

The 12-month forecast for East Asia through May 2020 indicates widespread, intense water surpluses in southeastern China including exceptional surpluses in Guangxi, Jiangxi, and Fujian.

Extreme to exceptional surpluses are forecast in Northeast China in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Inner Mongolia Provinces.

Surpluses will also be widespread and intense in northwestern Sichuan, Qinghai, and western Tibet (Xizang). Moderate surpluses are expected along the Lower Reaches of the Yellow River (Huang He), and severe surpluses along the northward path of the Ordos Loop.

Intense deficits are expected in the Shandong Peninsula in the east. Intense deficits are also forecast for central and northeastern Xinjiang in western China, and in southern Yunnan. Primarily moderate deficits are expected in Hubei, Henan, Shanxi, and Beijing.

Deficits are forecast for the Korean Peninsula, particularly in North Korea, and could reach exceptional intensity around Pyongyang. In Japan, surpluses are forecast for Kyushu and Shikoku, and moderate to extreme deficits are expected from northernmost Honshu into Hokkaido.

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

The forecast through November indicates that both deficit and surplus anomalies will shrink and downgrade in the region, though surpluses will remain widespread in several vast areas of China. Widespread surpluses will persist in southeastern China with generally moderate to severe anomalies expected and some pockets of greater intensity in central Jiangxi and around Shanghai. Surpluses of varying intensity are forecast in western China in many parts of Xinjiang, western Tibet, and Qinghai. And, severe to exceptional surpluses are expected to persist in several provinces of Northeast China including Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, and Liaoning.

Surpluses will emerge in central Shandong Province, but moderate deficits are forecast for the Shandong Peninsula, downgrading from exceptional anomalies observed in the prior three months. Moderate deficits are also expected in eastern Shanxi, Hubei, and Anhui. Exceptional deficits are forecast in western China in the central Kunlun Mountains of Xinjiang.

Near-normal water conditions will return to a vast extent across the middle of the nation and the south, from central Tibet east through Chongqing and south through Yunnan, though surpluses on the Upper Reaches of the Yangtze River will dissect this normalcy.

Deficits will nearly disappear from South Korea and moderate surpluses will emerge along the eastern shore. In North Korea, however, deficits will persist, shrinking slightly, and will continue to be intense around Pyongyang. In Japan, moderate surpluses will persist in Kyushu and across the Shimonoseki Strait into the tip of Honshu. Relatively normal water conditions are expected in the rest of Japan.

From December 2019 through February 2020, widespread moderate surpluses will persist in southeastern China with conditions in some coastal provinces downgrading to merely mild anomalies. The Shandong Peninsula will transition from deficit to normal conditions, but moderate to severe surpluses will persist in western Shandong Province. Widespread, intense surpluses will continue to dominate Northeast China. Surpluses of varying intensity are expected to persist from western Tibet through much of Qinghai and east through southern Gansu and central Shaanxi. Intense deficits will increase in eastern Xinjiang. On the Korean Peninsula, deficits will moderate in North Korea, and some pockets of surplus are forecast in South Korea. Moderate surpluses will emerge in eastern Shikoku, Japan, and exceptional deficits will emerge on Honshu’s Noto Peninsula on the Sea of Japan.

The forecast for the final three months – March through May 2020 – indicates that surpluses will shrink considerably in southeastern China and shrink somewhat in the northeast. Moderate deficits will emerge in southern Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China, and in northwestern Honshu, Japan.

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

Heavy rains killed at least one person and prompted evacuation orders for 870,000 on Kyushu Island in southwestern Japan late last month.

Typhoon Faxai struck Tokyo in early September, killing at least three people and injuring dozens of others. The storm cut power to roughly half a million homes. Two people died of heatstroke in the outage, which was prolonged by thunderstorms that delayed restoration crews. Industry insured loss estimates range from 340 billion to 740 billion Japanese yen (USD $3 billion to $7 billion). The storm doused the city of Izu in Shizuoka Prefecture with 17 inches of rain in 24 hours.

The Tumen River along the northern border of North Korea flooded following heavy rains in north-eastern North Hamgyong Province, reportedly killing at least one person and submerging nearly 500 houses.

Tropical Storm Bailu unleashed 48 hours of continuous rainfall over Taiwan, totaling up to 757 millimeters (29.8 inches). Mudslides made some mountainous roads impassable, stranding people on Liushidan Mountain in Hualien County.

Drought is clogging shipping traffic along rivers in eastern China, some of which are at their lowest levels in decades. In August, cargo ships sat idly, bow-to-stern, awaiting entrance to Hongze Lake, a large lake in the Huai River valley in Jiangsu Province.

The China National Commission for Disaster Reduction and the Ministry of Emergency Management activated emergency response measures last month for severe drought in the Hubei Province of central China.

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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