Central Asia & Russia: Water surpluses forecast from the Irtysh to the Tom River, Russia

26 April 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 continuing east to the Sea of Okhotsk.

Surpluses are forecast in the Upper Ob River watershed between the Irtysh and Tom Rivers in Russia; the Ural River watershed in Kazakhstan; central and southern Kazakhstan; eastern Uzbekistan; Kyrgyzstan; and, western Tajikistan.

Snowmelt in mid-April in Kazakhstan has swelled river levels in many parts of the country, causing flooding in Akmola, Aktobe, East Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Karaganda, Kostanay, and North Kazakhstan. In North Kazakhstan the water level in a main reservoir measured almost three meters (9.8 feet) above the allowed maximum. Over 7,000 people were evacuated throughout the affected regions and 70 rescued from floodwaters. Residents claim that 6 deaths are linked to the flooding but there is no official confirmation. Nearly 2,000 buildings were destroyed, reports Kazakhstan's Interior Minister. Deputies of the Senate of the Parliament will donate their one-day earnings to flood victims, by decree of the Kazakh Senate Bureau.

Just north of Kazakhstan in Russia rising waters of the Ob River are threatening residences, as homeowners rush to protect their property with private dams. A village in Novosibirsk was reportedly submerged, a road collapsed in Omsk, and villagers in Saratavo, farther west, were marooned for days. Meanwhile in the east, wildfires - many sparked by illegal burning - are consuming dry land in TransBaikal, Buryatia, and Khabarovsk.

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

Most noticeable in the April through June forecast is the retreat of widespread and exceptional water deficits in central Russia which were observed in the prior three months. However, drier than normal conditions will persist in many parts of Russia with moderate to severe deficits from the White Sea to the Taz River, and severe to exceptional deficits from the Taz to the Lena. Surpluses are forecast from the Irtysh to the Tom River, including the Upper Ob River and continuing along the Middle Ob. Farther west, surpluses are forecast to re-emerge between the Volga River in Samara Oblast and the Belaya River in the Republic of Bashkortostan.

Surpluses will continue to emerge in the following areas of Kazakhstan: Aktobe Region; northern Kostanay Region; a north/south line down the middle of Kazakhstan into central Karagandy; the Ertis River (Irtysh) watershed in the northeast; Almaty Region; and southern Kazakhstan. Surpluses are also forecast for Kyrgyzstan, eastern Uzbekistan, and western Tajikistan. Moderate deficits are forecast for western Uzbekistan and western and central Turkmenistan.

The forecast for July through September indicates conditions similar to the prior three months with a few exceptions: Deficits in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are expected to spread and increase in severity, elevating from moderate to severe; surpluses will retreat in Tajikistan; and, surpluses will transition to both deficits and surpluses in eastern Uzbekistan and on the Middle Ob River in Russia.

The forecast for the final three months shows deficits receding across northern Russia.

(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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