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Climate

Thailand is a country located in a tropical Southeast Asian peninsula and has 2,420 kilometers of coastline on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. According to the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Southeast Asia is one of the two most vulnerable regions in the world to coastal flooding. In addition, this region is predicted to face with increased annual mean precipitation and extreme precipitation. Geographically therefore, Thailand is a country highly vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change, and is ranked as the eleventh country most affected by climate-related impacts from 19942013, and tenth by 2015.

Thailand is considered one of the sixteen countries in the "extreme risk" category that are most vulnerable to the future climate change impacts over the next thirty years. Statistically, from 1955 to 2005, Thailand experienced an increase of 0.95C for mean temperature, 0.86C for maximum temperature and 1.45C for minimum temperature. From 1955-2014, number of rain days in Thailand has significantly decreased by 0.99 day per decade while daily rainfall intensity increased. National projections indicate heavier rainfalls are expected in areas with already high precipitation level, such as the southern peninsula, whereas for the arid, inland northeastern region, precipitation level is expected to decline even further. As a result, severe flooding and drought can be expected.

Thailand is a warm and rather humid tropical country. The climate is monsoonal, marked by a pronounced rainy season lasting from about May to September and a relatively dry season for the remainder of the year. Temperatures are highest in March and April and lowest in December and January. The average temperature is 23.7 to 32.5 degrees Celsius.

Because Thailand is situated in the tropical zone, the temperature is rather high throughout the year. Even in the winter season, from December to February, the average temperature is over 20C. However, on occasion the weather turns unusually cold under the influence of a cold mass of air from China and Mongolia. The overnight temperature in the North and the Northeast may fall to less than 10C.

Generally, Thailand's temperature varies according to the physical features. In winter, the climate in the North and the Northeast will be colder than in other regions because they are surrounded by hills. Sometimes, the temperature may drop to 0C, but in the summer season, it is very hot. The Central region is not often faced with such cold weather. Summer is around March-June, and it is usually very hot in April. It rains heavily in July- October, the normal rainy season.

The South has a lot of rain throughout the year. The rainy season lasts eight to nine months from May to December on the Gulf of Thailand side and from April to November on the Andaman Sea side. Because this region is a long peninsula, the temperatures in the summer and the winter season are not much different. Ordinarily, the difference is only 2-3C and the climate is neither very hot nor very cold, in contrast to the other regions of the country.

The area where it rains most is Trat Province in the East. The quantity of rain is more than 4,700 millimeters per year. The place where it rains least is in the West. Phetchaburi has less than 990 millimeters of rain per year.

Heavy rains associated with the semi-annual typhoon season cause frequent flooding. In August 2001, flash floods claimed the lives of more than 70 people in the mountains of Phetchabun Province, 186 miles north of Bangkok. In August and September 2002, flash flooding across Thailand claimed nearly another 150 lives. The dry season is most pronounced in the northeast (Korat Plateau).

Devastating floods in the latter half of 2011 claimed more than 600 lives and caused billions in economic damage. Thailand received well-above normal rainfall during the 2011 summer monsoon, with widespread areas recording up to 72 inches of precipitation between April and October 2011. The highland mountain watershed of the Chao Phraya River, which transects central Thailand, experienced some of the heaviest rainfall totals in the country. The higher than normal rainfall filled upstream mountain reservoirs, necessitating controlled releases from dams that were at full capacity. The releases from Dams combined with heavier than normal rainfall throughout an already saturated watershed to cause widespread flooding in central and southern Thailand.

Floods started in northern Thailand in July 2011 and spread southward. By November 8, floods had been slowly encroaching on the Bangkok, just north of the Gulf of Thailand, for three weeks. According to Bangkok Post, city officials were using pumps to drain overflow into the Chao Phraya River, but excess water was flowing into sewers. Sandbags were protecting the northern part of the city, but the director of the Rangsit Univerity disaster center warned that the sandbags would probably only contain flooding for several more days before water flowed over them and into Bangkok.

Because of the different physical features and climate of the six regions, the flora and the fauna found in each region also differ. In the mountainous areas in the North and the Northeast, where there is not much rain and the dry season lasts longer than elsewhere, most of the flora are found in deciduous tropical forests, in which the trees shed leaves in the dry season. Most of the trees in the North's mixed forests are teak. In the South and the East, where it rains very often, there are thick forests of evergreens. In contrast, the coastal areas along the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea are covered with mangrove forests.

These forests are preserved to maintain their natural condition. They are categorized as national parks and wildlife conservation areas. Thailand has 102 national parks in various parts of the country which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Forestry. The national parks that are best known for their variety of natural beauty are Khao Yai National Park, Kaeng Krachan National Park, and Doi Inthanon National Park. Each of them covers more than 1 million rai (1 rai = 0.4 acres) and is landlocked. National parks surrounded by the sea include the islands in Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, Mu Ko Similan National Park, and Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. The most important wildlife conservation areas include Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Conservation Area and Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Conservation Area, which were given the honor of being designated as Natural World Heritage sites by UNESCO in October 1992. All told, there are 44 wildlife conservation areas throughout the country.

The number of Thailand's wild animals has decreased lately because of encroachment by people to earn their living, resulting in reduced forest areas. Consequently, the Depart-ment of Forestry has issued the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act 1992, to conserve rare animals and parts of animals that are already extinct (that is, the protection of the mounted or preserved carcasses of extinct animals from purchase, sale, or transport out of the country), or animals which are almost extinct, such as Javan rhinoceros, Sumatran rhinoceros, Wild buffalo, Schomburgk's deer, Serow, tapir, dugong, and some rare birds such as White-eyed River Martin, Gurney's Pitta, and Sarus crane.




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