South Asia: Widespread water surpluses forecast in Afghanistan

21 June 2019

The 12-month forecast through February 2020 indicates widespread water surpluses in Afghanistan reaching exceptional intensity in the center of the country in the Harirud River system and extending north to Mazar-e Sharif, and in the east from Kandahar to Kabul.

In Pakistan, surpluses will be intense in the far north, and moderate to severe on the Afghan border and along the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab Rivers.

India can expect intense surpluses in Jammu and Kashmir, and surpluses are forecast along the Gandaki River in central Nepal leading into India. Moderate surpluses are forecast for northeastern Bangladesh into Meghalaya and Assam, India, and some surpluses are expected in Bhutan.

Deficits are forecast in the Krishna River Basin in southern India and will be severe to extreme around Hyderabad. Farther south in Tamil Nadu, extreme deficits are forecast reaching from Pondicherry on the coast to inland regions. Moderate deficits are forecast in a pocket of northern India in northernmost Uttar Pradesh.

The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

The forecast through August indicates that intense deficit anomalies in southern India and intense surplus anomalies in the Gangetic Plain observed in prior months will disappear, leaving mild deficits or normal water conditions throughout most of the country. Moderate deficits are forecast for Kerala and northern Tamil Nadu in the south, a pocket in southeastern Madhya Pradesh in the center of the country, and Uttaranchal in the north. Surpluses will shrink but persist in Jammu and Kashmir, and moderate surpluses will emerge in the west from central Gujarat into southern Rajasthan, and in the south at the tip of Tamil Nadu.

Widespread surpluses of varying intensity will persist in Afghanistan with exceptional surpluses around Mazar-e Sharif in the north and from Kandahar to Kabul in the east. Surpluses will shrink considerably in Pakistan but will persist with intensity along the border with Afghanistan and in the north. Exceptional deficits are forecast to emerge in southwestern Pakistan. In Nepal, moderate deficits are forecast in the west and surpluses along the Gandaki River in the center of the country. Moderate surpluses are forecast for northeastern Bangladesh.

From September through November, normal conditions are forecast for nearly all of India, with some surpluses persisting in the far north, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu. Some pockets of moderate surplus will emerge in Sri Lanka. Widespread surpluses will persist in Afghanistan, downgrading somewhat, with some areas of both deficit and surplus (pink/purple) as transitions occur. In Pakistan, surpluses are expected to persist in the north and along the border with Afghanistan, and moderate surpluses will emerge on the northern Indus River. Exceptional deficits will emerge near Karachi.

The forecast for the final months – December 2019 through February 2020 – indicates the emergence of exceptional deficits in Gujarat, India, and persistent intense surpluses in central Afghanistan.

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

Intense heatwave and drought killed at least 36 people in India by mid-June, as temperatures reached an all-time high of 48 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) in Mumbai. A man died in a fight over water in southern India when he confronted his neighbors who appeared to be siphoning water from a public tank.

Farmers took to the streets in Pakistan to protest a water crisis in the country’s Badin district that has caused water shortages for several months. Protest leaders accused irrigation department officials of mis-allocating farmers’ water shares to influential landlords. Hundreds of families have migrated to urban areas following the rural water shortages.

A rainstorm causing flash flooding killed at least two people and destroyed hundreds of homes in Afghanistan’s northern Takhar province early this month. Over 130 people have been killed in heavy rains and floods in the last three months in Afghanistan.

Heavy downpours in the Kashmir Valley flooded apple orchards and washed away bridges built over mountain streams early this month.

Rabi, or winter-sown crop, production in Maharashtra, India is expected to be 63 percent lower than last year, a severe effect of recent drought.

Over 300,000 people in northern Sri Lanka are currently affected by severe dry weather and drought, according to the country’s Disaster Management Center.

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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