Central Asia & Russia: Intense water surpluses forecast for S. Turkmenistan

24 June 2019

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

Surpluses are also forecast in Kostanay in northern Kazakhstan, and along rivers in the north including the Ishim, Irtysh, and Esil. Pockets of surplus are also expected in the southern provinces and along the Ile River in the southeast.

Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for western Kazakhstan northeast of the Caspian Sea, and surpluses farther west.

In Russia, intense surpluses are forecast in the Lower Volga region upstream of Volgograd and farther north along the river surrounding Samara. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast in the Middle Volga region south of Nizhny Novgorod and in the Upper Volga around Moscow and Yaroslavl. Surpluses are expected in the eastern Northern European Plain, the Western Siberian Plain, and the Ob and Vakh River Basins. Surpluses are forecast in the Lower Yenisei River region, but deficits are forecast in the remainder of the river’s basin and will be intense in the region of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska and the Upper Reaches of the Podkamennaya Tunguska.

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

The forecast through August indicates that surpluses will shrink in the Northern European Plain in Russia. Widespread surpluses will persist in the Ob River Basin and will be intense where the Tobol and Irtysh join the Ob and in the Upper Ob region north of Novosibirsk. Deficits are forecast for the Yenisei River Basin and will be exceptional in the region of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska, and between the Podkamennaya Tunguska and the Angara. Surpluses are forecast for the Lower Yenisei region.

In the Volga region, surpluses will persist northeast of Volgograd and farther north around Samara. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast in the Middle Volga region south of Nizhny Novgorod, and moderate deficits are expected in the Upper Volga region including Moscow and Yaroslavl.

Intense surpluses will persist in southern Turkmenistan but both deficits and surpluses are also forecast (pink/purple) as transitions occur. Surpluses will shrink but persist in eastern Uzbekistan, will shrink and downgrade in western Tajikistan, and will shrink somewhat in Kyrgyzstan. Intense surpluses will increase in Kostanay in northern Kazakhstan as transitions occur; surpluses are also forecast along rivers in the north and in pockets of the south. Primarily moderate deficits will persist in Aktobe in the northwest, but surpluses will persist in West Kazakstan Province. Moderate deficits will emerge on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.

From September through November, surpluses will persist in the Ob River Basin and in aforementioned regions of the Volga, but will continue to shrink in the Northern European Plain. Deficits will diminish in the Yenisei Basin and in the Middle and Upper Volga regions. In Kazakhstan, surpluses will persist in Kostenay and rivers in the north, and will intensify somewhat on the Ile River in the south becoming moderate. Deficits in Aktobe will disappear, transitioning to surplus in some areas. Surpluses will persist in West Kazakhstan. Surpluses will also persist in Kyrgyzstan, central Tajikistan, and eastern Uzbekistan. Intense surpluses in southern Turkmenistan will continue to transition, with conditions of both surplus and deficit.

The forecast for the final months – December 2019 through February 2020 – indicates nearly normal conditions across the Northern European Plain. Surpluses will shrink but persist in the Ob River Basin and in the Lower and Middle Volga regions. Moderate to severe deficits will persist in the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River region of the Yenisei Basin. Intense surpluses will re-emerge in southern Turkmenistan, and surpluses are forecast for eastern Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan

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

Reservoirs along Russia’s Volga River are lower than usual, revealing a late-tsarist period pavement near Kazan, ordinarily flooded since the Volga River was dammed in the 1950s. The low water levels are raising speculation that water managers are not adapting to changing climatic conditions; this past winter in the Volga catchment was reportedly much warmer than average, causing higher-than-average snowfall to replenish soil moisture rather than running off into the waterways. Ecologists contend that while the water levels won’t cause disaster, some cities will likely pay more for clean drinking water and potentially see negative effects of the increased chlorination required to kill algae blooms.

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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