REGION: HEADLINE

23 March 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast indicates water deficits in much of Central Asia, and surplus conditions in European Russia.

Severe to extreme deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, western Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Deficits are expected to be exceptional along the Amu Darya River and in the Fergana Valley.

Conditions of primarily moderate deficit are forecast for many regions of Kazakhstan, with severe deficits on the Ural River in the west becoming extreme as the river reaches Orenburg, Russia.

In Russia, moderate to severe deficit conditions are forecast for the vast Ob River Basin, along the Pechora Sea in the north, and from the Yamal Peninsula along the Kara Sea.

Surpluses are forecast in European Russia and along the Volga River. Farther east, past the Urals, surplus conditions are forecast between the Tom and the Yenisei Rivers, and may be exceptional near the city of Krasnoyarsk.

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

The near-term forecast through May indicates that exceptional surpluses in European Russia will shrink considerably and downgrade in severity, though surpluses will remain intense in Murmansk (not shown). The Ob River Basin will transition from surplus to deficit conditions, including a large block of exceptional deficit in the Tobol River watershed south of the city of Tyumen, Russia just north of Kazakhstan. Conditions of intense surplus will persist around the city of Krasnoyarsk on the Yenisei River.

Moderate to extreme deficits will emerge in Turkmenistan and eastern Uzbekistan, with extreme to exceptional deficits in the Fergana Valley, western Kyrgyzstan, and southern Tajikistan. Moderate deficit conditions are expected in central Kazakhstan, with more intense deficits in the eastern part of the country. Severe deficits are forecast along the Ural River in western Kazakhstan, becoming extreme as the river reaches Orenburg, Russia.

From June through August deficits will persist in Central Asia, emerging in all of Uzbekistan and developing into exceptional deficit along the Amu Darya River. Deficits will also increase in extent in Siberia. Deficits south of Tyumen, Russia will moderate. In European Russia, conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast as deficits emerge in areas of previous surplus. However, severe to extreme surpluses will emerge on the Volga River, and some areas of surplus, like the Sukhona River watershed, may upgrade to exceptional surplus. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast in the Yenisei River Basin as the region transitions from surplus to deficit.

The forecast for the final months – September through November – shows surplus conditions in European Russia and in the Vakh, Taz, and Yenisei River watersheds, with deficits elsewhere in Russia and Central Asia.

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

IMPACTS
Heavy rain and snowmelt caused massive flooding in eastern Kazakhstan this month. Hundreds of residents were evacuated from the town of Ayagoz, and flooding forced school closures in the regional capital, Oskemen, and districts nearby. Damages were reported to over 200 buildings.

Over 250 cargo trucks were halted overnight at the Russian-Ukrainian border in Bryansk Region, Russia, during the first week of March when a severe snowstorm prompted Ukraine officials to suspend cargo traffic until roads were cleared of snow.

The city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinks on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East declared a state of emergency due to a powerful blizzard early this month, with snow depth reaching 50 cm (19.7 inches). Bus, train, and airport traffic was paralyzed, schools were closed, and two long-distance train routes serving the island were cancelled due to snow depth and threat of avalanche. Snow cover exceeded twice the decadal norm along some stretches of the routes.

Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Uzbekistan noted that the two nations will create a joint working group of specialists to mitigate desertification of the Aral Sea. Formerly the fourth largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea has prompted international restoration efforts since its commercial fisheries collapsed following Soviet-era water diversion from the lake’s two tributaries, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers. The lake’s shrinkage has been deemed one of the world’s worst environmental disasters; after some successful restoration in the early 2000’s, it currently sits at one tenth of its original size.

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.

Comment

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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