Central Asia & Russia: Water surpluses to intensify in the Northern European Plain

16 August 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through April 2020 indicates intense water surpluses in southern Turkmenistan, intense deficits in much of Uzbekistan, and deficits of varying intensity in western Kazakhstan northeast of the Caspian Sea and along the central eastern Caspian coast.

Surpluses are expected in northern Kazakhstan and along portions of the Ishim and Esil Rivers. Surpluses are also forecast in northern Kyrgyzstan, western Tajikistan, and eastern Uzbekistan.

In Russia, surpluses are expected in the Northern European Plain and will be exceptional from the Vychegda River past the Pechora River. Surpluses are also forecast for the Western Siberian Plain including the Ob and Vakh River Basins, and in Irkutsk Oblast west of Lake Baikal.

Deficits are expected along the central coasts of the Gulf of Ob. Surpluses are forecast in the Lower Yenisei River region, but deficits are forecast in the remainder of the river’s wide-reaching basin and will be intense in the region of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska and the Upper Reaches of the Podkamennaya Tunguska. In the Volga River Basin, surpluses are forecast in the Lower Volga region, and moderate deficits in the Middle Volga region south of Nizhny Novgorod.

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

The forecast through October indicates that surpluses will intensify in the Northern European Plain in Russia. Widespread surpluses will persist in the Ob River Basin and will be intense west of the intersection of the Tobol, Irtysh, and Ob Rivers. Anomalies will also be intense in the Upper Ob region north of Novosibirsk.

Intense deficits will persist along the central coasts of the Gulf of Ob. Surpluses are forecast on the Yenisei River but deficits reaching exceptional intensity are expected in the regions of its eastern tributaries the Nizhnyaya Tunguska and the Podkamennaya Tunguska.

In the Volga region, surpluses will persist in the Lower Volga from Volgograd to Kazan. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast in the Middle Volga region south of Nizhny Novgorod, and moderate deficits are expected around Moscow.

In southern Turkmenistan conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast (pink/purple) as transitions occur, and some mild deficits will emerge in much of the remainder of the country. Mild deficits will also emerge in Uzbekistan but surpluses will persist in the west and in the east around Samarqand. Intense surpluses are expected in Kyrgyzstan and moderate surpluses in central Tajikistan.

In Kazakhstan, deficits in Aktobe Region in the northwest will disappear, and surpluses will persist in northern and western Kazakhstan. Some moderate deficits will persist in the southernmost region of the country and mild deficits will emerge across the center.

From November 2019 through January 2020, intense, widespread surpluses will persist in the Northern European Plain in Russia but will shrink somewhat in the Western Siberian Plain. Moderate surpluses will persist on the Ob River and in Irkutsk Oblast west of Lake Baikal. Deficits will persist along the central coasts of the Gulf of Ob, in the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River region, and north of Lake Baikal. Relatively normal conditions are forecast for Kazakhstan with some moderate deficits emerging in the north and some severe surpluses persisting in the west and in the southeast along the Ile River. Intense surpluses will re-emerge in southern Turkmenistan. Surpluses are also forecast along the Amu Darya River in Uzbekistan, eastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and western Tajikistan.

The forecast for the final months – February through April 2020 – indicates moderate to severe surpluses across the Northern European Plain. Surpluses will shrink considerably along the Ob River, but persist in Irkutsk Oblast. Deficits will persist along the central coasts of the Gulf of Ob, in the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River region, and north of Lake Baikal. Nearly normal conditions are forecast for Central Asia.

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

IMPACTS
[updated 26 Aug 2019]
Nearly a month after severe flooding killed at least 25 people in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, regional rivers rose again by up to one meter, flooding 20 towns and villages. About 900 homes in the Irkutsk region were declared uninhabitable in late July due to flood damages and were set to be demolished.

A state of emergency was declared late last month in Russia’s Amur region due to flooding following heavy rainfall.

An unusually hot dry summer has caused forest fires to engulf an area the size of Belgium in Siberia, prompting federal emergency services to declare a state of emergency across the Irkutsk region and beyond. The fires forced Russian oil firms to suspend drilling and evacuate their work sites, and were likely to blame for hazy conditions occurring as far away as Shuswap, British Columbia this month. The magnitude of the fires threatens acceleration of Arctic melting according to environmentalists. The burning itself releases carbon dioxide emissions but also diminishes the future carbon sinking capacity of the forest. Further, covering snow and ice with soot and ash reduces its albedo, or ability to reflect radiation, instead absorbing it as heat.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
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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