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Khorat Plateau and Climate Change in Thailand

16.7N 102.5E

February 7th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Mountains

Thailand – January 24th, 2013

This image focuses on Thailand, namely on the Khorat Plateau, in the northeastern part of the country. The average elevation is 200 m and it covers an area of about 155,000 km². The saucer-shaped plateau is divided by a range of hills called the Phu Phan mountains into two basins: the northern Sakhon Nakhon Basin, and the southern Khorat Basin.

The plateau is tilted towards the south-east, and drained by the Mun and Chi rivers, tributaries to the Mekong that forms the north eastern boundary of the area. It is separated from Central Thailand by the Phetchabun mountain range and the Dong Phaya Yen mountains in the west, the Sankamphaeng Range in the southwest and by the Dongrek mountains in the south.

These together with the Truong Son Range in the north-east catch a lot of the rainfall, so the South-West monsoon has much lower intensity then in other regions—the mean annual rainfall in Nakhon Ratchasima is about 1150 mm, compared with 1500 mm in Central Thailand. The difference between dry and wet season is much stronger, which makes the area less fertile for rice.

Thailand has begun implementing interesting strategies to adapt to climate change, to mitigate some of the effects that are already felt, and to protect farmland, coasts and cities. Thailand is the home to 65 million people, the majority of whom live in rural, agricultural areas. Climate change threatens all three important sectors of Thailand’s economy: agriculture, tourism, and trade. The country is the world’s largest exporter of rice, and agriculture employs 49% of the population.

Today, Thailand produces only 0.8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and has a lower per capita emission rate than the global average (3.25 metric tons in 2002, compared with 3.97 per capita worldwide). However, Thailand’s total CO2 emissions doubled between 1991 and 2002 and the government recognized its contribution to global warming.

The effects of climate change, including higher surface temperatures, floods, droughts, severe storms and sea level rise, put Thailand’s rice crops at risk and threaten to submerge Bangkok within 20 years. The damage to agriculture, coastal tourism, and the capital city as consequences of climate change will have enormous economic, cultural and environmental impacts: one degree of warming will destroy the rice crops that are central to the economy, and a few centimeters of sea level rise will submerge the capital city and devastate coastal tourism.

Thailand’s mitigation and adaptation efforts include a slow shift to organic agriculture, a tsunami warning system along the Andaman Sea, the construction of a flood prevention wall around Bangkok, and an Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and energy use (click here for more information).

Mun and Mekong Rivers, Thailand

15.2N 105.4E

April 2nd, 2010 Category: Lakes, Rivers

Thailand - March 5th, 2010

Thailand - March 5th, 2010

The Mun River, sometimes spelled Moon River, flows horizontally across the middle of this image of Thailand. It is a tributary of the Mekong River, which is visible near the right edge at the Laos border and east of the Phang Kham lake.

The Mun carries approximately 21,000 cubic kilometres of water per year. It rises in the Khao Yai National Park of the Sankambeng range, near Nakhon Ratchasima in the Isan area of Thailand. It then flows east through the Khorat Plateau in southern Isan (Buriram, Surin and Sisaket provinces) for 466 miles (750 km) until it joins the Mekong at Khong Chiam in Ubon Ratchathani by the border with Laos.

The controversial Pak Mun dam is located near the confluence with the Mekong. The Pak Mun dam is located 5.5 km west of the confluence of the Mun and Mekong rivers in Ubon Ratchathani province, Thailand. The project has been criticised for adverse effects on the fisheries of the Mun River, insufficient compensation payments to affected villagers, and failure to produce the projected power output.

Vegetation Index of Thailand and Neighbors

16.2N 103.3E

February 11th, 2010 Category: Vegetation Index

Thailand - January 26th, 2010

Thailand - January 26th, 2010

This FAPAR image shows parts of Thailand (left), Cambodia (center) and Vietnam (right), in southeast Asia.  Parts of Laos are also included although mostly covered by clouds. Areas of high photosynthetic activity appear dark red, those with good activity green, and those with low activity yellow.

The northeast of Thailand, Isan, consists of the Khorat Plateau, bordered to the east by the Mekong River. This area shows a good vegetation index, increasing to high in some areas.

The centre of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand. This area appears yellow to light green, indicating a lower vegetation index than on the plateau.