Central Asia & Russia: Water deficits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

29 January 2018

The 12-month forecast for the region indicates exceptional water surplus anomalies in Western Russia near Rybinsk Reservoir and from St. Petersburg south to the Dnieper River (not shown), with both surplus and deficit conditions reaching to the Upper Volga. Extreme surpluses are forecast along the Severnaya Dvina (Northern Dvina) and Sukhona Rivers, along with surpluses of varying severity in a vast block from there to the Pechora River.

Surplus conditions are also forecast for the Vakh River Basin, the Upper and Middle Ob River, and the Tom River Basin.

Moderate deficits are forecast for the Caucasus, the eastern edge of Transvolga, the western Ob River basin, and the southern Yamal Peninsula and across the Gulf of Ob.

Deficits reaching exceptional severity are forecast for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for southern and western Kazakhstan, but may be extreme near the northeastern shore of the Caspian Sea. Moderate to severe deficits are expected in western Kyrgyzstan and western Tajikistan.

Flooding on the Volga River embankment in Rybinsk, Russia turned a popular pedestrian walkway into a skating rink in January. December inflows to the Rybinsk Reservoir were two and a half times higher than the mean annual values.

Reservoirs serving the Russian city of Yekaterinburg east of the Ural Mountains in Sverdlovsk Oblast have been experiencing water shortages since last summer, forcing city officials to turn to reservoirs in Chelyabinsk Oblast to the south. Though experts had hoped natural flows would improve, Yekaterinburg's water supply is now estimated to last only until mid-March, prompting an extension through January for water to be drawn from Chelyabinsk. The water transfer comes with a monthly price-tag of 34 million rubles (~US$610 thousand) for Yekaterinburg.

Anticipating drought next year and a poor grain harvest, Kazakhstan’s Food Contract Corporation, which manages state grain inventories, plans to purchase and stockpile an additional 2 million metric tons (2.2 million tons) of grain from Kazakh farmers this season.

Russia is upping investments in nuclear-powered ice breakers in the Northeast Passage, the shortest maritime route connecting Europe to Asia, to take advantage of increasing Arctic navigation opportunities that are projected with decreasing arctic sea ice. Last year Russia shipped a record 7.3 million tons of cargo along the Northeast Passage and plans to increase that figure ten-fold by 2029, in part by increasing production in the newly-opened Yamal Liquefied Natural Gas project.

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

The January through March forecast indicates a vast block of exceptional surplus conditions in European Russia, and exceptional surpluses along the Middle Ob River, the Tom River Basin, and in Aktobe Region, Kazakhstan. Surpluses nearly as intense are forecast for much of the Yenisei River. Exceptional deficits are forecast for the southern Yamal Peninsula with severe deficits across the Gulf of Ob. The extent of exceptional deficits in eastern Turkmenistan is expected to diminish somewhat but severe to extreme deficits will continue to emerge in the east and moderate deficits will emerge in the west. Similarly, deficits will emerge throughout much of Uzbekistan and intense deficits are expected in the east. Conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

From April through June surpluses in Russia are forecast to diminish in extent and severity overall, but intense surpluses will persist around Krasnoyarsk in southern Krasnoyarsk Krai. Deficits in the Yamal Peninsula and across the Gulf of Ob will downgrade; moderate deficits will emerge in the Caucasus, persist in Turkmenistan, and spread in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Moderate to severe deficits will emerge in western Kyrgyzstan and western Tajikistan.

The forecast for the final months – July through September – indicates a resurgence of exceptional deficits in Turmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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

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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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