Central Asia & Russia: Some severe water deficits on the Ural River

28 September 2018

The 12-month forecast through May 2019 indicates surpluses along the Lower and Middle Ob River in Russia, reaching exceptional levels in the Upper Ob and Tom River Basins. Severe surpluses are forecast along the Irtysh, Ishim, and Vakh Rivers. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast for the Volga River Basin in western Russia.

Severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, western Kazakhstan, central Kyrgyzstan, eastern Tajikistan, and between the Sea of Azov and the Caspian Sea. Surpluses are forecast for northern Kazakhstan and eastern Kyrgyzstan.

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

The forecast through November indicates that deficits will downgrade considerably in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, western Kazakhstan, and the North Caucasus region. Moderate deficits are forecast for northwestern Kazakhstan and across the border well into southern Russia but deficits may be severe along the Ural River. Surpluses are forecast in Russia along the Middle Ob River, and in the Vakh River, Upper Ob River, and Tom River regions, and will be exceptional in the Upper Ob and Tom regions. Surpluses are also forecast for northern and eastern Kazakhstan and eastern Kyrgyzstan. Conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast in western Russia as transitions occur.

From December through February, moderate to severe deficits will emerge across the breadth of Kazakhstan, and severe to extreme deficits will increase in southern Kyrgyzstan and eastern Tajikistan. Surpluses will persist in eastern Kyrgyzstan and along the Ili River in southeastern Kazakhstan. Moderate to exceptional surpluses will re-emerge in the Middle Volga and Don River regions in Russia.

The forecast for the final months – March through May – indicates moderate to severe deficits in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the re-emergence of surpluses in northern Kazakhstan, a transition from deficit to surplus in the Ural River watershed in Russia, and persistent, widespread surpluses in the southern Ob River watershed.

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

Ongoing drought has left over 200 wheat processing factories in Kazakhstan without work and on the verge of bankruptcy, prompting the federal government to consider importing more wheat. Drought has reportedly caused a 700,000-ton domestic wheat shortage in Kazakhstan. The country’s ministry of national disaster management reported supplying 20 provinces with over 56,000 tons of wheat.

The European heatwave appeared to take a toll across many of Russia’s grain producing regions. Drought caused grain losses of up to 20 percent with respect to last year in Stavropol Krai, the country’s third largest grain production region. Drought in 11 districts of the Chechen Republic damaged almost 12,000 hectares (29,652 acres) of cropland, prompting a declaration of emergency and a promise of compensation from the federal government for losses estimated at 1 billion 300 million rubles (~USD$20 million). Other regions in southwestern Russia, including the Orenburg and Saratov oblasts (federal districts), incurred drought-related agricultural losses as well. Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture estimates total losses in the country at 6 billion rubles (~USD$92 million).

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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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