Central Asia: Water surpluses in central Kazakhstan, deficits in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

The Big Picture
For the 12-month period ending April 2017 (below) exceptional (greater than 40 years) water surpluses are forecast in north central Kazakhstan, along rivers in Kazakhstan, between the Ural and Emba Rivers northeast of the Caspian Sea, and in Kyrgyzstan. Deficits are forecast throughout Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, with pockets of both deficits and surpluses in some areas. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast in the Volga River Basin in Russia. Widespread exceptional water deficits are forecast on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula and east of the northern branch of the Ob River in western Siberia. 

"It is 35 degrees Celsius [95F] which is really rare, and it is not just for one day, it is for the whole month,” said Alexey Kokorin, a scientist with WWF Russia, describing the heat wave in Yamal-Nenets autonomous region. An anthrax outbreak in the region has killed one boy, hospitalized 90 people, and resulted in the death of at least 2,300 reindeer. Kokorin suspects that warming permafrost has released Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, from spores buried in the soil for hundreds of years.

The warming of Siberian permafrost also has scientists concerned about release of the smallpox virus from corpses buried after an outbreak 120 years ago.

Hail damaged crops in the Issyk-Kul region of eastern Kyrgyzstan, and mudslides flooded roads and houses, and damaged bridges in the Alai district.

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

From August through October, water surpluses in Kazakhstan will begin to transition to conditions of both deficits and surpluses as deficits begin to emerge across the country. Moderate (5 to 10 years) to severe (20 to 20 years) deficits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are expected to continue to emerge through November, abate for several months, and then re-emerge from February on.

In Russia, exceptional deficits on the Yamal Peninsula and east of the northern branch of the Ob River in western Siberia are expected to diminish in extent and severity from August on. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast for the Volga River Basin August through October. Surpluses are forecast in the southern portion of the Ob River Basin during this period and surpluses will become more apparent in the northern portion of the basin as deficits in the north diminish. Surpluses throughout the Ob Basin are expected to be especially widespread and severe in October, after which they are expected to persist through April but diminish in extent and severity.  

Widespread and exceptional surpluses are forecast November through January for the Volga River Basin.

(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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