Forecast Mekong: Visualizing Shared Waters
The Mekong is one of the world's great rivers cascading through six Asian countries from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea, connecting China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. How one country uses or changes the waters of the Mekong upstream can have important implications for the health of the river and people downstream. Increasing demands for hydropower and irrigation have prompted several countries to plan the construction of dams on the Mekong River and its tributaries. The cumulative effects of such dams can be quantified through the use of hydrologic data and computer models. Visualization tools can help people develop a shared understanding of river resources and provide a science basis for critical decisions about regional development and sustainability. The U.S. Department of State in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey and university partners are developing visualization tools to help policy makers and planners communicate and evaluate complex river issues. The video is a form of science diplomacy requested by the U.S. Department of State to educate policy-makers and citizens in Southeast Asia about the vital importance of the Mekong river and delta in maintaining food security and livelihoods in the region. The six nations that share the Mekong River will all benefit from a commonly-held understanding of the benefits, trade-offs, and impacts of water resource development. Scientific visualization provides a powerful tool for improving future planning and harmonizing the development of the Mekong for people, fish, and wildlife.