Central Asia & Russia: Water deficits across Arctic Russia, surpluses in Kazakhstan

31 January 2017

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 and east to the Sea of Okhotsk. Surpluses are forecast between the Irtysh and Tom Rivers in Russia, in the Ural River watershed in Kazakhstan, in central and northeastern Kazakhstan, and in eastern Kyrgyzstan. Moderate deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan.

A bill has been introduced in Russia’s State Duma to use federal budget monies to compensate farmers for losses incurred due to drought. The 2016 drought in Trans-Baikal Territory affected 69,000 hectares (170,502 acres) and in November the federal government agreed to provide compensation of 350 million rubles (US$5.85 million). However, current law provides compensation to insured farmers only but many insurance companies refuse to enter into contracts. If adopted the law would increase the federal budget allocations.

Buryatia, a Russian republic whose western border is formed by Lake Baikal, is preparing for its third year of drought. Drought loss in 2015 was estimated at 324 million rubles (US$5.46 million) and in 2016 at 309 million rubles (US$5.21 million). The Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Buryatia have entered into a cooperative agreement with the Russian federal government to work with insurers and help protect farmers from 2017 losses.

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 January through March forecast map, drier than normal conditions will persist in many parts of northern Russia from the White Sea through the Central Siberian Plateau, with a vast expanse of exceptional deficits between the Ob and Yenisei Rivers. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast between the Irtysh and Ob Rivers.

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 down the middle of Kazakhstan through Karagandy Region. Surpluses are also forecast in the east, between Lakes Balkhash and Zaysan.

The forecast for Kyrgyzstan indicates surpluses in the north, and both surpluses and deficits elsewhere. Deficits are forecast for eastern Tajikistan and some surpluses in the west.

From April through June the extent of exceptional deficits in northern Russia will diminish, but deficits will emerge farther east and north.

During this same period a vast area between the Irtysh and Yenisei Rivers in Russia is forecast to transition from exceptional deficit to exceptional surplus. Note the large dark red blob in the January through March map; you can see a path of purple peeking through indicating both exceptional surplus and exceptional deficit. In the April through June map the blob has changed to dark blue, indicating exceptional surplus.

In northwestern Kazakhstan exceptional surpluses are forecast in the Ural River watershed, and surpluses of varying intensity are forecast for a north/south line down the middle of the country, as well as in the northeast and east. Moderate deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan and central Uzbekistan; surpluses in Kyrgyzstan.

The forecast for the final three months, July through September, indicates an increase in the severity of deficits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

(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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