Water Resources

Water Resources Image

Water & Water Resources of the Mekong Basin.

   The Mekong River basin is the world’s eigth largest in discharge (ca. 475 km3 year 1), 12th largest in length (ca. 4800 km), and 21st largest in drainage area (ca. 795 000 km2). The headwaters of the Mekong River (Figure 1) are in the Tibetan Highlands, at nearly 5000 m elevation. Fed by melting snow, the Mekong runs down the steep Tibetan slopes through a narrow gorge in the Yunnan province of China. The Mekong drainage area is partitioned as follows: 21% in China, 3% in Burma, 25% in Laos, 23% in Thailand, 20% in Cambodia, and 8% in Vietnam. The portion of the basin lying within China, Burma, and the northern part of Laos, consists of mountainous terrain between 400 and 5000 m elevation and is referred to as the Upper Mekong Basin (189 000 km2), while the remaining 606 000 km2 of its drainage area form the Lower Mekong Basin.

   There are multiple facets to consider.

   A general description of the hydrological cycle of the Mekong proivdes an overview of the distribtuions of precipitation, runoff, evapotranspiration, and groundwater.

   A component of the Virtual Mekong Basin process is how to "visualize" the complex information that goes into hydrology models, and how to look at the output. In that spirit, the workings of the UW VIC model shows how the landscape and climate compine to produce the hydrologic cycle.

   An animation of the VIC model output shows the integration of precipitation, ET, and runoff for 2006.

Annual Precip

The maximum flow velocities computed by the model can be visualized as:

Maximum Flow Velocity