Central Asia & Russia: Water surpluses in the Volga River Basin and eastern Novosibirsk Oblast

20 July 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast for the region indicates widespread water anomalies in Russia reaching exceptional severity, with large pockets of surplus in the western half and deficits stretching east across the Siberian Plateau to the Kamchatka Peninsula. Moderate deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan extending into Uzbekistan.

Pockets of surplus conditions include the Upper Ob and the Volga River Basins in Russia. Extreme surpluses are indicated in northern, western, and southern Kazakhstan, as well as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. 

Torrential rainfall in western Russia left Moscow with a record-breaking day in late June - the heaviest ever for June 30 and for any day in June - with 84 percent of the monthly total falling in just one day. In the week that followed excessive precipitation flooded the streets of Nizhny Novgorod and stopped several trams and buses from running.

The rain along with cooler than normal temperatures has delayed planting of some vegetables by 3 to 4 weeks. Losses might reach 2.6 billion rubles (US$43.8 million) according to the National Union of Agricultural Insurers, and will be directly felt as most agri-businesses are uninsured. Employment numbers are reflecting a loss of 15.4 percent agricultural employment this May compared to last year, and inflation rose to 4.4 percent in June bumped by an 8.3 percent rise in food prices.

The soggy weather has also dampened tourism in Russian resorts like Sochi and Crimea, forcing hotels and tourist agencies to slash prices.

The World Bank has approved US$50 million from the International Development Association to strengthen critical infrastructure in Tajikistan against natural hazards including floods, landslides, and droughts.  Average annual losses in the country from floods could reach 1.4 percent of GDP, as estimated by the World Bank.

In related news, as climate change shrinks fresh water supplies, the World Bank projects that the impact of water scarcity in Central Asia could reduce GDP by 11 percent by 2050. 

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

The near-term forecast (July through September) indicates the persistence of large pockets of exceptional surplus in Russia in the Volga River Basin and west of the Lower Ob River to beyond the Tom River in eastern Novosibirsk Oblast, while exceptional surpluses along the Middle Ob recede. Farther north, a band of intense deficits will persist across the southern Yamal Peninsula and eastward but conditions southwest along the Pechora Sea are expected to transition from deficit to moderate surplus.

Exceptional surpluses are expected to persist in Kazakhstan in northern Kostany, central Karagandy, east of Astana, and in southern Kazakhstan. Surpluses in Aktobe Region will begin to transition to both surpluses and deficits as deficits emerge. Likewise, both deficit and surplus conditions are forecast for the area west of Lake Tengiz in the center of the country. Moderate to severe deficits are expected to emerge throughout Turkmenistan and into Uzbekistan. Surpluses are forecast for Kyrgyzstan.

During the October through December forecast and extending into the January to March 2018 forecast period, deficits will continue to emerge in much of eastern Russia, though they are not expected to reach exceptional severity. Exceptional surpluses are expected to persist in the Volga Basin and between the Upper Ob and Tom Rivers. Moderate to severe surpluses will emerge from the Ural Mountains to the western edge of the Central Siberian Plateau.

Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for eastern Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan through December, diminishing thereafter. In Kazakhstan aforementioned regions of surplus will continue to exhibit surplus conditions through December, along with regions that had begun to transition to deficit. In the later months – January through March – surpluses in Kazakhstan will diminish.

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

Note on Administrative Boundaries
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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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