CIA Assesses Flooding in North Korea

02.09.11 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

CIA analysts studied data on major floods due to rainfall in North Korea since 1996 in order to devise a framework for evaluating the significance of such floods and their likely consequences for North Korean agriculture.

The analysts identified four principal variables:  the intensity of the rainfall, the location of the rainfall, the time of year, and damage to non-agricultural infrastructure.

“Rainfall intensity and geography of flooding appear to be key variables with the most impact,” their report (pdf) said. “Critical periods in the agricultural growth cycle — for sowing, growing, and harvesting — and the scope and severity of infrastructure damage are compounding variables that can magnify the impact of major floods in key food producing areas.”

All four elements were present in 1996 and 2007, when flooding produced the most severe agricultural impact.  But using the methodology described, analysts judge that the cumulative impact of two instances of heavy rain in 2010 “has been relatively low.”

A copy of the CIA report was obtained by Secrecy News.  See “North Korea: Assessing the Impact of Flooding on Agricultural Output,” CIA Open Source Works, December 15, 2010.