Central Asia & Russia: Water deficits forecast in the Yenisei River Basin

30 May 2019

The 12-month forecast through January 2020 indicates intense surpluses in southern Turkmenistan, and surpluses of varying intensity in eastern Uzbekistan into western Tajikistan, and across the breadth of Kyrgyzstan.

Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for northern Turkmenistan, central Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley to the east, and western Kazakhstan northeast of the Caspian Sea.

In Russia, intense surpluses are forecast in the lower Volga region upstream of Volgograd, and severe deficits in the Middle Volga south of Nizhny Novgorod. Primarily moderate surpluses are expected in the Northern European Plain, and surpluses of varying intensity in the Upper and Middle Ob River Basin. Surpluses will be exceptional east of Kemerovo in the northern portion of the Tom River Basin. Deficits are forecast in most of the Yenisei River Basin and will be intense in the Upper Basin.

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

The forecast through July indicates that surpluses in the Ob River Basin of Russia will shrink and moderate overall, though surpluses will be intense along portions of the Irtysh River as it joins the Ob. Surpluses will also be intense in the northern portion of the Tom River Basin east of Kemerovo. Deficits will emerge in the Yenisei River Basin and will be intense in the regions of the Nizhnyaya and Podkamennaya Tunguska Rivers, the Angara River, and north of Mongolia. In the Volga region, surpluses will persist northeast of Volgograd, severe deficits are forecast in the Middle Volga region south of Nizhny Novgorod, and moderate deficits are expected in the Upper Volga region.

Exceptional surpluses will persist in southern Turkmenistan. Surpluses of generally lesser intensity are forecast for eastern Uzbekistan, western Tajikistan, and eastern Kyrgyzstan. Severe deficits will emerge in northern Turkmenistan, and primarily moderate deficits in Uzbekistan, though deficits will be intense in the Fergana Valley in the east. Severe deficits are forecast surrounding Aktobe in northwestern Kazakhstan.

From August through October, deficits will increase in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and southern Kazakhstan, with pockets of extreme anomalies. Conditions of both surplus and deficits (purple) are forecast for southern Turkmenistan as transitions occur. Surpluses will moderate in eastern Kyrgyzstan. In Russia, surpluses will increase in the Ob River Basin and in the Northern European Plain, while surpluses in the Lower Volga region transition, with conditions of both deficit and surplus.

The forecast for the final months – November 2019 through January 2020 – indicates that exceptional surpluses will re-emerge in the Lower Volga Basin north of Volgograd, and surpluses will diminish in the Ob River Basin and in the Northern European Plain. Deficits in Central Asia will moderate.

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

Heavy rains flooded the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat last month. Ashgabat is near the country’s border with Iran, which took the brunt of regional flooding.

Russia’s intense rains have increased as a proportion of total rainfall by one to two percent every decade over the last 50 years. A recent study released by climatologists from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences notes the increase in “heavy” rainfall from 1966 to 2016, pointing to an increase in Russia’s average annual temperature as a possible contributing factor.

Climate change is causing Central Asia’s glaciers to lose 1.6 times more water than they gain each year from new snowfall, threatening a substantial buffer to drought for the entire region. Roughly 800 million people in the high mountain region are partly dependent on glacier melt water.

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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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