Central Asia & Russia: Water deficit forecast for Turkmenistan; surplus for Volga Basin

28 November 2017

The 12-month forecast for the region indicates exceptional water surplus anomalies in Western Russia near Rybinsk Reservoir, with widespread surpluses of lesser severity from there through the Transvolga Region, and also from Rybinsk following the Upper Volga River. Surpluses reaching exceptional intensity are forecast for the Ob River, Yenisei River, Vakh River Basin, and Tom River Basin.

Exceptional surpluses are forecast in northern Kostanay Region, Kazakhstan, and surpluses of varying severity are forecast for eastern Kyrgyzstan.

Severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, western Kazakhstan, and surrounding Lake Baikal in Russia (not pictured); severe deficits in the southern Yamal Peninsula; and primarily moderate deficits in the Central Siberian Plateau.

Russia has postponed approval of a 2015 proposal requiring homeowners to insure their properties against natural disasters such as floods until after the elections. Under the existing scheme, losses are compensated from the federal budget. Average annual damage from floods in Russia costs roughly 40 billion rubles (US $687 million). Proponents of the bill say that requiring homeowners to purchase insurance will relieve the federal budget and will help discourage property development in flood-prone areas.

The federal government of Kazakhstan has begun implementing 264 flood management projects as part of a broader 2017-2020 national roadmap. Flooding from melting snowpack occurs seasonally in Kazakhstan and frequently results in extensive damages. In collaboration with local authorities, the federal government expects to complete 96 of the projects, which target technical repairs and hydro-meteorological services, by the end of the year.

Vast stretches of boreal forests in Russia succumb to wildfires each year, threatening nearby communities and requiring massive deployment of fire-fighting resources. Russian researchers are currently developing more efficient forest-fire extinguishing technology. The principle involves creating an explosive splintering effect, whereby one large drop of water becomes many smaller drops with greater coverage, consequently reducing the needed volume of water sprayed from aircraft. The addition of small graphite particles to the mix is a key component in the new approach.

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

From November through January surpluses reaching exceptional intensity will continue to emerge in Russia along the Sukona River northeast of Rybinsk Reservoir; from Rybinsk in the Upper Volga River, Volga Uplands, Lower Volga, and Transvolga Region; and the Ob, Vakh, and Tom Rivers. Exceptional surpluses will re-emerge in Aktobe Region and northern Kostanay Region, Kazakhstan, and will persist in western Akmola Region. Surpluses of varying severity are forecast for Kyrgyzstan. The extent of exceptional deficits will increase in Yamal Peninsula, Russia, and exceptional deficits will emerge in Kazakhstan in a path from the central border with Uzbekistan northeast through central Karagandy Region. Moderate to severe deficits are expected in Turkmenistan and eastern Uzbekistan.

In the spring, exceptional surpluses in the Volga Basin should downgrade in intensity, though remain widespread from February through April. Exceptional surpluses will persist between the Tom and Yenisei Rivers and surpluses of varying severity are forecast along the Ob, Irtysh, and Yenisei Rivers. In Kazakhstan, exceptional surpluses are expected to persist in northern Kostanay, retreat somewhat in western Akmola, and retreat significantly in Aktobe. Severe deficits will continue to emerge in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, increasing in extent in Uzbekistan. Aforementioned exceptional deficits in Yamal, Russia, and in Kazakhstan will moderate.

The forecast for the final months – May through July – indicates lingering surpluses in the Transvolga Region of Russia, the Vakh River, and between the Upper Ob and Yenisei Rivers; and, deficits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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

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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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