THAI RESEARCHERS and water management agencies said today (June 15) that a moderate strength El Niño, which is a natural climate phenomenon, has arrived and is expected to last three to five years with a possible prolonged drought leading to water scarcity, Thai Rath newspaper said.
Mrs. Pattamawadi Phochanukul, director of Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI), Mr. Sujarit Koonthanakulwong, chairman of water management research at National Research Council of Thailand, together with academics from Hydro-Informatics Institute and officials from the Meteorological and Royal Irrigation departments said after a conference that El Niño conditions have developed in response to Pacific Ocean’s average surface temperature having continued to increase.
The El Niño phenomenon could lead to natural water sources in Thailand decreasing by 28% during the second half of year from the average recorded over the past 15 years, they warned.
Mr. Chaiyapong Thepprasit, a researcher from the Faculty of Engineering, Kasetsart University, said the total volume of water at dams and reservoirs, especially Bhumibol and Sirikit dams, is still 11,202 million cubic metres, which is sufficient for consumption and agriculture till summer 2024.
What is worrying is if the El Niño phenomenon continues till 2025 or even 2027, in keeping with the scientific forecast models, it may affect water management in the long run especially if there is a drought during 2025-2026.
It is important for researchers and academics from all water management agencies to closely monitor and analyse the development of the El Niño phenomenon in the country and find ways to mitigate its impact on people, he added.
Mr. Thanet Somboon, director of the Bureau of Water Management and Hydrology, Royal Irrigation Department, said that his team is focusing on saving as much water as possible and using the management system employed during droughts even though there is far more water at Bhumibol and Sirikit dams this year than last year.
This is because the amount of water at large reservoirs nationwide has decreased, especially at Mae Klong and Srinakarin dams, which affects agriculture in the Mae Klong river basin.
Top: Thai researchers, academics and officials holding talks on the arrival of El Niño. Photo: Thai Rath
Front Page: A map on the global impact of El Niño. Credit: BBC