Central Asia & Russia: Water deficits persist in Russia from Arkhangelsk through Siberia

September 26, 2016

The Big Picture
The 12-month map (below) indicates widespread water deficits, including exceptional deficits (greater than 40 years) forecast in Russia from Arkhangelsk near the White Sea in the west through the Central Siberian Plateau. Deficits are also forecast for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Surpluses are forecast in much of Kazakhstan and in Russia northeast of Kazakhstan in an area surrounding the southern branch of the Ob River. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast in the eastern part of the Volga River watershed.

A long dry period and unusually warm weather have extended Siberia's fire season into fall, according to Sergey Verkhovets, Chair of Ecology and Environmental Studies at Siberian Federal University in Krasnoyarsk. The Yamal Peninsula and Yakutia region have been especially hard-hit, says Verkhovets. Though data on the number of fires in Russia is conflicting, the vast extent is evident in smoke-filled satellite images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on September 15, 2016, and from VIIRS instrument aboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite on September 18, 2016.

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

From September through November, water surpluses in Kazakhstan will begin to transition to conditions of both deficits and surpluses as deficits begin to emerge across the country. Surpluses are forecast in Kyrgyzstan, and both deficits and surpluses are forecast in the Volga River Basin. Moderate (5 to 10 years) deficits are expected to continue to emerge in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan through November. Widespread water deficits in Russia from Arkhangelsk through the Central Siberian Plateau are forecast to persist through November though the extent of exceptional deficits will diminish.

Looking at the December through February map, the forecast indicates that aforementioned water deficits in Russia will continue to diminish in extent and severity, and moderate surpluses will emerge south of the Gulf of Ob. Surpluses will continue to emerge in the Volga River Basin, with large pockets of exceptional surpluses expected. Exceptional surpluses are also forecast for Kyrgyzstan, though both deficits and surpluses may appear. Deficits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are forecast to become less severe during this period before picking up in intensity after March.

In the last quarter of the forecast period widespread moderate to exceptional surpluses are forecast in the basin of the southern Ob River.

(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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