Central Asia & Russia: Widespread water surpluses to persist in W Russia

19 December 2017


The 12-month forecast for the region (above) indicates exceptional water surplus anomalies in Western Russia near Rybinsk Reservoir and along the Upper Volga. Widespread surpluses are also forecast for the Severnaya Dvina (Northern Dvina) basin, the Vakh River basin, the Upper and Middle Ob River, the Tom River basin, and the Yenisei River. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast for the Don River basin.

Intense deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, southern and western Kazakhstan, the Caucasus, and surrounding Lake Baikal (not pictured). Moderate deficits are forecast for the eastern edge of Transvolga, the western Ob River basin, southern Yamal Peninsula and across the Gulf of Ob, and the Central Siberian Plateau. Deficits are expected to be exceptional near the northeastern shore of the Caspian Sea.

Russian crops are being sowed for the 2018 harvest in dry soil conditions after a drier autumn than last year. The bumper harvests of 2017, on the other hand, are driving down global prices of wheat and pulses, reportedly due to favorable weather in spring and early summer.

Kazakhstan is now growing drought-resistant sweet potatoes in three regions. In a collaboration with Korean suppliers the sprouts are raised from seed with little water, after which survivors are transplanted to Kazakhstan fields, adapting to water-scarce conditions. In early December Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan agreed to conduct joint research in field testing new crop varieties for resistance to drought and other agricultural challenges, representing a new agricultural cooperation between the two countries.

A spokesperson from The Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia argued recently that inter-state cooperation on water issues could save Central Asian states $4.5 billion in economic losses each year.

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


From December through February 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. Deficits in the Yamal Peninsula and across the Gulf of Ob will downgrade slightly but deficits reaching extreme intensity remain in the forecast. A large pocket of exceptional deficits is forecast in west-central Krasnoyarsk Krai near Kellog. Exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge in Aktobe, Kostanay, and western Akmola Regions in Kazakhstan but widespread intense deficits will emerge in the northeastern part of the country. Deficits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are expected to moderate. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

From March through May surpluses in Russia are forecast to diminish in extent and severity overall, but will persist with intensity around Krasnoyarsk in southern Krasnoyarsk Krai. The Middle Ob River region will transition from surplus to moderate deficit. Deficits in the Yamal Peninsula and across the Gulf of Ob will downgrade slightly but persist; moderate deficits will emerge in the Caucasus, persist in Turkmenistan, and spread in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

The forecast for the final months – June through August – indicates deficits of varying severity in many parts of the region.

(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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