Central Asia & Russia: Water deficits to increase in Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan

25 July 2018

The 12-month forecast indicates widespread surpluses reaching exceptional levels in the Upper Ob and Tom River Basins in Russia, severe surpluses along the Irtysh and Ishim Rivers, and moderate surpluses on the Lower Ob River. Severe surpluses are forecast for the Vakh River, a tributary of the Ob, but moderate to severe deficits are expected in the Bolshoy Yugan River watershed in the Middle Ob region.

Moderate deficits are forecast in southeastern Yamal Peninsula and eastward, becoming more intense in the Central Siberian Plateau. Intense deficits are also forecast in the Caucasus, with both deficits and surpluses in the North Caucasus. Deficits are also forecast for the middle Ural River and may be severe around Orenburg.

In European Russia, widespread surpluses of varying severity are forecast in the north, and conditions of both surplus and deficits are expected in the south as transitions occur.

In Central Asia, deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan, much of Uzbekistan, western Kazakhstan, eastern Tajikistan, and central Kyrgyzstan, and will be especially intense in Kyrgyzstan and on the Caspian coast. Surpluses are forecast for eastern Kyrgyzstan and northern and eastern Kazakhstan.

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

The forecast through September in Central Asia indicates that deficits will increase and intensify in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, western Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan and may be extreme in Turkmenistan and exceptional in southeastern Uzbekistan. Extreme deficits will persist in central Kyrgyzstan but surpluses are forecast in the east. Surpluses are also forecast for northern Kazakhstan and a pocket south of Lake Balkhash leading southeast along the Ili River.

In Russia, deficits will moderate in the Caucasus and North Caucasus. Severe deficits will increase along the Ural River around Orenburg, and a broad path of primarily mild deficits will emerge leading northeast to join more severe deficits in the Bolshoy Yugan River watershed in the Middle Ob region. Surpluses are forecast along the Ob, Irtysh, and Ishim Rivers and will be exceptional in the Upper Ob Basin west of Tomsk and also in the Tom River Basin. Deficits in southern Yamal and into the Central Siberian Plateau are expected to moderate and transition to surplus in some regions. In European Russia, moderate surpluses are forecast for much of the Northern European Plain, and conditions of both deficit and surplus (shown in purple) are expected in the south.

From October through December, deficits in Central Asia will downgrade somewhat but some areas of intense deficit will persist in Turkmenistan, and moderate to severe deficits will emerge in central Kazakhstan. In Russia, aforementioned deficits will downgrade to mild, though moderate deficits will persist along the Ural River around Orenburg and along the river’s route through Kazakhstan to the Caspian Sea. Surpluses in northern European Russia will diminish but intense surpluses are expected to re-emerge in the Don River Basin and the Volga Uplands.

The forecast for the final months – January through March – indicates that both deficits and surpluses will generally diminish in Central Asia, and surpluses will diminish in western Russia but persist in the Ob River Basin.

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

Heavy rain caused a landslide that damaged the Volgograd Arena, a newly-built World Cup stadium, this month. Farther south near the Black Sea, flooding hit the city of Krasnodar, trapping people in nearly submerged vehicles.

Earlier this month residents of the Russian city of Samara, site of a World Cup quarter-final match, were advised to shower in pairs to save water when increased demand from tourists reduced water pressure in the city. A heatwave also added to the local water demand.

This year’s Russian grain harvest is threatened by drought in the southern regions of Rostov, Stavropol, and Volgograd, in addition to extreme cold in Ural and Siberia. Harvest estimates in June were cut twice by mid-month. Wheat prices in Siberia spiked 20 percent in reaction to the forecasts.

Kazakhstan’s vice minister of agriculture announced that a climate shift to wetter conditions is compelling the country to switch some farm acreage from wheat to oilseeds. 

Tajikistan has proposed expanding public-private partnerships to attract additional investments in the country’s water sector and infrastructure. The announcement came after last month’s conference on the "International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028," a UN initiative, held in Tajikistan.

The Central Asia-South Asia hydroelectric power project, CASA-1000, is underway and is expected to transmit surplus power from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan by mid 2020.

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.

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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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