IRI Climate Digest
Climate Impacts - January
Contributions to this page were made by IRI researchers
Dr. M. Barlow,
Dr. M. Hopp,
Dr. T Kestin,
Dr. B. Lyon,
Dr. A. Seth,
Dr. L. Zubair
Indonesia Parts of Indonesia endured two rounds of floods in January. In Sumatra over 30 fatalities were blamed on flooding near the beginning of the month. Several days of heavy rain near the end of the month resulted in flooding in parts of Sumatra, Java (including the capital, Jakarta), Borneo, Bali, Madura, and Aceh. As of February 1, about 250,000 people in greater Jakarta had fled their homes because of the flooding. As much as 20% of Jakarta was reportedly under water at one point during the event. The IRI seasonal forecast indicates a slightly enhanced probability for rainfall to be below average in the coming three months.
Zimbabwe Unusually dry conditions have developed in the middle of the rainy season in Zimbabwe. The reduced rainfall has depleted soil moisture and intensified concerns about food security as some staples are already scarce. The IRI seasonal forecast does not indicate an enhanced probability of rainfall to be below average for the coming season.
Southwest Asia Significant rainfall and snow has been reported in parts of drought-stricken Southwest Asia. In Badghis and Ghor provinces of northwestern Afghanistan, rainfall resulted in flash flooding (a common phenomenon when substantial rains follow a prolonged period of drought) with snow in the higher elevations. In western and southern Iran, heavy rains near mid-month triggered flash flooding which caused significant damage to property and infrastructure. The most affected provinces include Fars, Bushehr, Khouzistan and Kerman. An OCHA report estimated damages of 470 billion Rials (approx. USD 59.06 million). Several villages in the provinces of Kermanshah and Isfahan were also isolated by heavy snowfalls.
Brazil The annual carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro are being dampened by a dengue epidemic in that city, as well as many other parts of Brazil, including the states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Parana, and Pernambuco. So far there have been as many 17 deaths and over 10,000 reported cases of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever. The outbreaks followed heavy rains throughout much of Brazil. There have also been malaria and typhoid fever cases in the northeastern state of Para attributed to the unusually heavy rain. Sources - Dengue BBC, Reuters, ProMED-Port, ProMED, DisasterRelief, Malaria ProMED-Port, Typhoid Fever ProMED-Port
Indonesia There has been an increase in the number of dengue fever cases in North Sulawesi, following continuous rains, with outbreaks reported in Manado, Bitung, and Minahasa. There are also reports of approximately 18,000 cases of diarrhea in Jakarta associated with flooding there. Source - Dengue ProMED, Diarrhea ProMED-Port
Democratic Republic of the Congo About 900 families from the northern town of Mbandaka have been displaced due to heavy rains and floods. A lack of shelter and hygiene have contributed to scabies, malaria, respiratory infections and malnutrition amongst the displaced. Source IRIN
Mozambique Due to recent flooding, an outbreak of malaria has been reported in Maputo, with 5000 people being treated in hospitals. Flooding results in pools of stagnant water which are ideal breeding grounds for the malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Source ProMED
Brazil Nation-wide energy rationing may be nearing an end, as the warm season rains in the southeast (where the headwaters of the Sao Francisco River form), have increased the reservoir capacity in the northeast to 45% by mid-February, up from a low of 14% early in the year. In order to end energy rationing in the northeast the reservoirs should operate with at least 48% of their capacity. The government intends to announce the end date of energy rationing in Brazil on February 19. Rationing could end as early as February 20 if ample rains continue, otherwise, rationing can be extended to March 1. Meanwhile, the reservoirs in southeast Brazil reached 53.31% of their capacity, already above the minimum level required for the end of rationing of energy in the region. In the beginning of the year, these reservoirs were operating with 32.3% of their capacity. (Folha, Estadao, Estadao) The wetter than average season has been in progress in the southeast since late November, while rains in the northeast have just begun, with the primary season rains still to come through April. The seasonal forecast issued in February 2002 indicates a slightly enhanced probability for near- to below-average precipitation in the northeast region for the March to May period.
United States The persistence of unusually dry conditions along the east coast from New England to Georgia has led over 100 counties to declare drought warnings or watches. Voluntary water restrictions are in effect in many areas and water reserves in reservoirs have declined significantly from their average values for this time of year. In the state of Maine, the year 2001 was the driest on record. In other drought-affected regions, precipitation since August of 2001 has been among the 10 driest on record.
Italy Persistent dry conditions in northern Italy's Po River Valley is raising concerns about poor planting conditions for the coming spring season. The region is the primary producer of soybeans and rice in Italy and is largely irrigated. However, if dry conditions persist, reservoir levels will continue to decline and could limit important water resources during the growing season (see FAS report). The IRI seasonal forecast does not favor any category for precipitation in the coming season.
Canada The drought conditions which developed across the Canadian Prairies and portions of eastern Canada during the past year continued in the first month of 2002 (see IRI Drought Index). Pasture conditions in some areas of the Prairies are considered the worst in over 60 years and continued lack of soil moisture is already a concern for farmers planning the sowing of summer crops (see summary from USDA). Climatologically, rainfall generally increases across the Prairies during the spring season and reaches a maximum in June-July.
Argentina Heavy rainfall during the spring season flooded large areas of the Pampas (see November 2001 Digest) delayed planting of summer crops. Saturated soils were particularly unfavorable for the planting of corn and sunflower crops. However, conditions favored planting of soybeans and there is more area planted in second-crop soybeans this year as compared to last. Harvested area of soybeans is on pace to set a record, according to the Food and Agricultural Service.
Former Soviet Union Despite prolonged drought conditions in some areas bordering Iran and Afghanistan, combined wheat production for Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan is not expected to decline significantly during 2002. The majority of the region is irrigated and snowfall in the Tien Shan, Alay, and Pamir mountains is expected to ease the impact of drought when snowmelt increases water reserves for the next growing season (USDA).