Ecological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 73–86 | Cite as

Basin-wide impacts of climate change on ecosystem services in the Lower Mekong Basin

  • Yongyut TrisuratEmail author
  • Aekkapol Aekakkararungroj
  • Hwan-ok Ma
  • John M. Johnston
Special Feature: Original Article Biodiversity and Its Ecological Functions in East-Asia and Pacific Region: Status and Challenges


Water resources support more than 60 million people in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) and are important for food security—especially rice production—and economic security. This study aims to quantify water yield under near- and long-term climate scenarios and assess the potential impacts on rice cultivation. The InVEST model (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) forecasted water yield, and land evaluation was used to delineate suitability classes. Pattern-downscaled climate data were specially generated for the LMB. Predicted annual water yields for 2030 and 2060, derived from a drier overall scenario in combination with medium and high greenhouse gas emissions, indicated a reduction of 9–24% from baseline (average 1986–2005) runoff. In contrast, increased seasonality and wetter rainfall scenarios increased annual runoff by 6–26%. Extreme drought decreased suitability of transplanted rice cultivation by 3%, and rice production would be reduced by 4.2 and 4%, with and without irrigation projects, relative to baseline. Greatest rice reduction was predicted for Thailand, followed by Lao PDR and Cambodia, and was stable for Vietnam. Rice production in the LMB appears sufficient to feed the LMB population in 2030, while rice production in Lao PDR and Cambodia are not expected to be sufficient for domestic consumption, largely due to steep topography and sandy soils as well as drought. Four adaptation measures to minimize climate impacts (i.e., irrigation, changing the planting calendar, new rice varieties, and alternative crops) are discussed.


Lower Mekong Basin Climate change Water yield Rice cultivation Adaptation 



The authors express sincere thanks to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Climate Change and Adaptation Initiative (CCAI) for funding this research and providing GIS and climate data. The US State Department Embassy Science Fellows Program is acknowledged for sponsoring John M. Johnston to collaborate with the MRC on this study. We also acknowledge the Land Development Department and the Royal Irrigation Department of Thailand for the provision of the land evaluation guideline and observed water yield data. The authors would like to thank Masahiro Nakaoka, Associate Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Research, and to two anonymous reviewers for providing constructive comments to improve this manuscript. Special thanks are given to scientists and representatives of member countries for valuable comments and suggestions. Fran Rauschenberg (Senior Environmental Employee) is thanked for technical editing. This paper has been reviewed in accordance with US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) policy and approved for publication. The constructive comments of Muluken Muche (USEPA) and anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript. The opinions expressed or statements made herein are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies mentioned above. Trade names or commercial products cited do not represent an endorsement or recommendation for use.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 182 kb)
11284_2017_1510_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (22 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 23 kb)
11284_2017_1510_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (92 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 93 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongyut Trisurat
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aekkapol Aekakkararungroj
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hwan-ok Ma
    • 4
  • John M. Johnston
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of ForestryKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Mekong River Commission, Climate Change and Adaptation InitiativeVientianeLao PDR
  3. 3.ADPC SERVIR-MekongBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Division of Forest ManagementInternational Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)YokohamaJapan
  5. 5.USEPA/ORD/NERL Computational Exposure DivisionAthensUSA

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