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The University of Southampton

Research project: JAYHUN - Interstate water resource risk management: Towards a sustainable future for the Aral Basin

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A project funded by the EU FP6 Environment Programme

Glacial retreat

Glacial and snow melt is essential for the well-being of all the states of Central Asia and provides over 90% of their water requirements. Unfortunately, climate change is causing rapid recession of the glaciers, which in the short-term helps to meet the States' ambitious water requirements, but in the long term will result in decreased runoff and increased evapotranspiration from higher temperatures.

Irrigation use

In addition because of the young nature of the mountain ranges they are unstable with the result that the reservoirs and potential reservoir sites have very limited life expectancies because of rapid siltation.

It is also known, however, that vast quantities of water are wasted by inefficient and poorly managed irrigation schemes.

The water resources of the region are already overstretched and hence, in the foreseeable future the very existence of their agricultural economies is at stake.

Water management

This project is designed to assess the level of risk associated with these different variables and to develop a management strategy for the water resources of the region. This will be achieved by firstly determining the rate of glacial retreat and the implications for future water resources and the assessment of the likely impact of global changes on the annual precipitation in the region. Rates of reservoir siltation will also be established by hydrographic survey, and the wastage and effectiveness of water use in the large irrigation massifs will be established from both historic data and satellite databased methods of estimating water use.

Risk analysis

The data have been analysed in water resources models that are calibrated on existing data and then used to look at different scenarios up to 50 years into the future by combining the data gathered from the data collected and analysed in other work packages. The outcome is a risk analysis identifying future risk and sustainable management options for water in the Aral Basin.


Tanton, T.W. (2010) "Interstate Water Resource Risk Management: Resource Risk Management" Ch 2. In: Interstate Water Resource Risk Management: Towards a Sustainable Future for the Aral Basin (JAYHUN) Ed. Olsson, O., Bauer, M. IWA Publishing ISBN-10: 1843393085

Satellite imaging of irrigated area
Outpout from water basin model
Risk assessment

Related research groups

Water and Environmental Engineering Group
Weather station near glaciers
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