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Drought alert

August 6, 2012

This is an alert mainly aimed at expats with gardens in Chiang Mai, currently abroad during European/American summer vacation. In contrast to last year’s heavy rain this rainy season is unusually dry. That will have no effect on the indigenous plants unless they are seedlings, but exotic garden plants and recently planted trees and saplings may succumb without generous watering. Ketsanee spoke to her brother in Esan who reported that the rice is dying, which, if this goes on, may result in higher prices and inflation.

Last year when the heavy rains hit the north, the government had many weeks to take action to protect southern provinces, but they ignored the scientists. This year the government wanted to show action by lowering the dams’ water reservoirs in advance, but it is not clever to assume that an unusually rainy year would repeat itself two years in a row, especially since the Thai weather is largely due to the El Nino/La Nina oscillations, which can be predicted fairly accurately based on sea water measurements. Last year was a La Nina and it did rain a lot. This year was believed to be neutral, but it is now shifting towards El Nino=dry in Southeast Asia while wet in South America.

The consequence of lowering the water levels of the dams prior to a drought might be electricity shortage, which must be battled with higher prices which will lead to inflation and even more expensive foods. The argues for more dams due to an electricity shortage will strike against biodiversity and the livelihoods of poor fishermen and farmers along the rivers.

I hope none of this will come true and that a generous rain will last for two months non-stop. Water is life.

Dokmai Garden is fine, we have generous rain water reservoirs.

Documentary photographer Sofia Adams from Utah spent three days with Dokmai Garden’s Seehamongkol family. She took this picture as a part of the international Foundry Photo Workshop held in Chiang Mai. To the photographers, the absence of rain facilitated their work. The host was Documentary Arts Asia which has a gallery downtown.

Dokmai Garden will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday the 7th. The reason is a private Buddhist ceremony.

Text: Eric Danell

Photo: Sofia Adams

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2012 10:59 AM

    Very nice facial expression!!! Cheers Nonoy Manga

  2. August 6, 2012 4:06 PM

    I was just about to write to an absent neighbor who is in the USA about the dry. As I recall it is 13 days since we had one or two good days of rain and before that we had a dry spell of 6+ weeks. They say global warming is accentuating the El ninyo – La Ninya cycle. I would love to see some rainfall graphs of present vs average rainfall.
    Does DokMai garden have a good source for these? Does anybosy produce say 30 day running averages to give an idea what might be expected in average, wet & dry years?

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