Central Asia & Russia: Water deficits in Siberia, surpluses in Kazakhstan

19 December 2016

The Big Picture
The 12-month map (below) indicates widespread water deficits, including exceptional deficits forecast in Arctic Russia from the White Sea through the Central Siberian Plateau to the Lena River. Surpluses are forecast between the Upper Ob and Tom Rivers in Russia, in the Ural River watershed in Kazakhstan, in central Kazakhstan, and in eastern Kyrgyzstan. Moderate deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

Farmers in Trans-Baikal Territory, Russia are scheduled to receive 350 million rubles (US$5.85 million) in relief funds from the federal budget as compensation for the summer drought. As reported earlier by Tass Russian News Agency, the drought combined with September rains destroyed 64 percent of the region’s grain harvest.

New research published in the journal Nature, supported by analysis of more than 3 million satellite images collected over the last 32 years, indicates that 70 percent of global water loss occurred in Central Asia and the Middle East – a loss of permanent surface water equal to an area nearly 90,000 square kilometers.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions in more detail.

The vibrant and complex patchwork visible in each of the 3-month maps for Central Asia indicates that water anomalies – both drier than normal and wetter than normal – blanket the 12-month forecast, with relatively few areas predicted to have normal conditions.

As seen in the December through February forecast map, drier than normal conditions will persist in many parts of northern Russia from the White Sea through the Central Siberian Plateau. Though the extent of exceptional deficits is forecast to diminish somewhat, exceptional deficits will persist between the Ob and Yenisei Rivers, with both deficits and surpluses west of the Ob to the Irtysh River.

The Ural River watershed in northwestern Kazakhstan will transition from exceptional surplus to both exceptional deficit and surplus (purple). Exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge in a north/south line through central Kazakhstan from Kishkenekol in the north through Karagandy Region in the south. The forecast for Kyrgyzstan is a checkerboard of water conditions with exceptional surpluses near Bishkek, and both exceptional surpluses and deficits elsewhere. Deficits are forecast for eastern Tajikistan.

From March through May deficits in northern Russia will diminish in extent and severity though extreme deficits will persist from the Ob past the Yenesei Rivers and along the Lower Tungusta. Deficits will transition to conditions of both deficit and surplus (purple) between the Upper Ob and Tom Rivers. The extent of surpluses in Kazakhstan will diminish but exceptional surpluses will persist in northern Aktobe, northern Kostanay, central Karagandy, southeastern Almaty, Pavlodar, and East Kazakhstan Provinces. Moderate deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan and central Uzbekistan.

The forecast for the final three months, June through August, shows a slight increase in deficits in northern Russia and emerging surpluses near Novosibirsk between the Ob and Tom Rivers.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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