Central Asia & Russia: Intense water surpluses forecast in Ob & Yenisei River watersheds

17 December 2018

The 12-month forecast through August 2019 indicates deficits in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and western Kazakhstan, which will be particularly intense in Kazakhstan between the Caspian Sea and the Uzbek border. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast in the Volga River Basin of Russia, and deficits of somewhat greater intensity in a narrow band north of the Caucasus Mountains.

Widespread surpluses are forecast in the Ob River Basin that will reach exceptional intensity. Surpluses are also forecast in the Vakh River region, an eastern tributary of the Ob. Intense surpluses are expected in the Tom River watershed, and primarily moderate surpluses along the Irtysh and Ishim Rivers.

The forecast for northern and eastern Kazakhstan and eastern Kyrgyzstan also indicates surpluses.

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

The forecast through February indicates intense surpluses on the Ob River in Russia, and along the Vakh, Pur, and Taz Rivers. Surpluses will be widespread in the Middle Ob region and also in the Yenisei River watershed. Surpluses will shrink somewhat in the Northern European Plain but persist and intensify slightly in the Vychegda Lowland. Severe to extreme deficits are forecast for western Kazakhstan, reaching across the northern border into Russia and the Ural River watershed where deficits could reach exceptional intensity. Both deficits and surpluses are forecast in the Middle Volga Region, and deficits in Russia north of Ukraine.

Intense surpluses are expected in pockets of northern Kazakhstan, moderate to severe surpluses in eastern Kyrgyzstan, western Tajikistan, and along the Zerafshon River in Uzbekistan. Severe to extreme deficits are expected in eastern Tajikistan and in central Kyrgyzstan.

From March through May deficits in western Kazakhstan and the Ural River watershed will downgrade to mild or moderate; moderate deficits are forecast for the Volga River Basin. Widespread surpluses will persist in the Ob River Basin but will downgrade to moderate to severe in the Lower and Middle Ob regions, while remaining more intense in the southern Ob Basin. Surpluses will shrink and downgrade west of the Ob in the Vychegda Lowlands and east of the Ob in the Yenisei watershed. Some moderate deficits are forecast for Turmenistan and Uzbekistan, and primarily moderate surpluses for eastern Kazakhstan, eastern Kyrgyzstan, and western Tajikistan.

The forecast for the final months – June through August – indicates a significant increase in the extent and intensity of deficits in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and western Kazakstan, with severe to extreme anomalies. Moderate deficits will increase in the Volga Basin and south through the Caucasus. As deficits emerge in northern Russia conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast, including in the Northern European Plain and the Lower and Middle Ob regions. Surpluses in the Upper Ob and Tom River regions will increase.

(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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