Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Pankaj Lal

Committee Member

Michelle Zhu

Committee Member

Yang Deng

Committee Member

Josh Galster

Committee Member

Kenneth Bagstad


The Vietnam Mekong Delta (VMD) is the southernmost part of the Mekong River watershed basin and plays a critical role in Vietnam’s socio-economic and ecological wellbeing. Because of both climate change and anthropogenic activities, such as hydropower dam construction and overwhelming water extraction, the area has recently experienced severe droughts, changing rainfall patterns, and decreasing water resources, collectively heightening disaster risks. Understanding the interactions among these evolving factors is key to preserving resources in the VMD and similarly afflicted regions. Therefore, this dissertation included three objectives. The first objective was to estimate potential impacts of changes in the available water resources in the research area by predicting soil moisture and drought risk in the Mekong Delta using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model. The second objective was to develop and validate an Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) that would be able to predict soil moisture in the Mekong Delta. This process entailed using historical soil moisture data and comparing those data with the ANNs predicted model data. The third objective was to evaluate the willingness of the inhabitants of the VMD to engage in potential tradeoffs to avoid potential disaster risk in the region and to use this information to assist the Vietnamese government in developing environmental policies in the VMD. The VIC model showed that land cover change would have minimal impact on soil moisture in the area, that an increase in cropland would result in a decrease in soil moisture, and that there would be notable differences in soil moisture during the wet versus dry season. Also, the model showed that there would be severe drought in the period between the wet and dry season along the VMD’s western coastline. The ANNs model resulted in a high correlation between the historical data and the predicted soil moisture. In brief, both the VIC model and the ANN model have the ability to predict soil moisture. After the Vietnamese government introduced a flood management system, altering the natural flood pattern, VMD residents of both the area immediately downstream from the flood management structures and those who lived farther downstream were negatively affected socioeconomically. We conducted a survey of residents of the VMD and found that residents were willing to trade off some shortterm benefits for long-term stability, but the residents farthest downstream were more willing to accept tradeoffs than those residing immediately below the flood management system, as those farther downstream were more negatively affected by the new flood plan.

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