Central Asia & Russia: Water surpluses forecast for Ob, Vakh, Tom Rivers, Russia

27 October 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast for the region indicates widespread water surplus anomalies reaching exceptional severity in European Russia from Murmansk Oblast on the Barents Sea southward to Moscow. Surpluses are also forecast for the Transvolga Region, along the Middle Ob River, the Upper Ob River Basin, and the Tom River Basin.

Exceptional deficits are forecast in the southern Yamal Peninsula, with deficits of lesser severity trailing east across Siberia. Deficits are also forecast around Lake Baikal.

Intense deficits are expected in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and western Kazakhstan. Exceptional surpluses are forecast in northern Kostanay Region, Kazakhstan, and surpluses of varying severity are forecast for eastern Kyrgyzstan.

Drought has destroyed 40 percent of the crops in the Russian republic of Buryatia, surrounding Lake Baikal. Of 72,000 hectares of grain planted, only 43,000 were harvested. Potato and livestock fodder were also affected. 

In the Russian Caucasus district of Pravoberezhny, North Ossetia-Alania, farmers are struggling with debt after August drought decimated their corn crops. Two months without rain reduced yields to one-tenth the expected output per hectare. 

Kyrgyzstan's decision to begin discharging water from the Kirov reservoir has created consternation in Kazakhstan. Kazakh water officials fear flooding in Zhambyl region and a loss of water resources needed in the spring. The two countries, by agreement, have equal shares in water from the Talas River which feeds the reservoir. Kyrgyzstan says scheduled repairs necessitate the discharge.

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

As seen in the map series above, a large block of water surplus reaching exceptional intensity is forecast to persist through June 2018 in the Upper Ob River Basin and the Tom River Basin in Russia. In the near-term, from October through December, the intensity of surplus on the Middle Ob River will increase to exceptional, matching that along the Upper Ob. Exceptional surpluses are forecast to emerge along the Vakh River, an eastern tributary of the Ob, and surpluses will emerge along the Yenisei River.

Surpluses in the Volga Upland and Transvolga will begin to transition to conditions of both deficit and surplus as some deficits emerge. Moderate to severe deficits are expected to emerge just east of Transvolga between Yekaterinburg and Tyumen, reaching south into Kostanay Region, Kazakhstan, where both deficit and surplus conditions may appear.  

Widespread surpluses remain in the forecast for a vast area of western Russia (not pictured) from Murmansk Oblast through Tver Oblast, though surpluses are expected to retreat from Moscow.

Severe to extreme deficits are expected to spread on the Yamal Peninsula and across the Gulf of Ob.

Intense deficits in Turmenistan and Uzbekistan will downgrade considerably leaving only mild deficit conditions, and as deficits recede in western Kazakhstan surpluses will re-emerge. Surpluses will continue to emerge in Kyrgyzstan and may be exceptional near Bishkek.

From January through March severe to extreme deficits are forecast to emerge across northern Kazakhstan and across the border into Russia. Surpluses in the Lower Ob will transition to both deficit and surplus conditions.

The forecast for the final months – April through June – indicates surpluses in the Upper Ob River Basin in Russia, and the emergence of deficits in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, western Kazakhstan, and the Don River Basin in Russia extending into the North Caucasus.

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

Note on Administrative Boundaries
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers. 


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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