Dynamics of irrigation and hydropower development in the Central Asia Region

The principal spheres of water resources use in Central Asia today are irrigated agriculture and hydropower. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 3.5 million hectares were irrigated in the region. By the 1990s the total irrigated area in the region increased to 8.8 million hectares. The total established capacity of all electric power stations in the region increased to 37.8 million kilowatts and at that time the capacity of hydropower stations in the region reached 11.31 million kilowatts (Petrov et al., 2006).

Unfortunately, all these impressive results led to the same great negative consequences. The intensity of ecological destruction in the region, which became especially apparent in the Aral Sea zone, has sharply increased, salinization and desertification have spread and the quality of water especially in the lower stretches of rivers has worsened (Normatov et al., 2006).

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TABLE 1. Macroeconomic development of the Central Asia Region

Country

Area 1,000 km2

Population millions

Per capita gross output

$1,000s/person

Per capita energy consumption tons fuel/person

Kazakhstan

2,636.20

14.95

3.56

3.67

Kyrgyzstan

198.50

4.90

0.68

0.66

Tajikistan

143.10

6.20

0.99

0.84

Turkmen-istan

488.00

4.70

1.52

3.30

Uzbekistan

447.36

24.60

2.26

2.70

Central Asia

3,913.16

55.35

2.22

2.64

In November 2006 a Regional Workshop on "Assessment of Snow-Glacier and Water Resources in Asia" was held in Kazakhstan. Participants, including experts and professionals from Central Asia together with international experts, noted that changes in glaciers in the world's largest and highest mountain system will have significant effects on nearly 1.5 billion people. They recognized that glaciers are key indicators in detecting climate change.

TABLE 2. Surface water resources of the Aral Sea basin

Country

Amudarya basin km3/year

Syrdarya basin km3/year

Aral Sea basin

km3/year

%

Kazakhstan

-

4.50

4.50

3.9

Kyrgyzstan

1.90

27.4

29.30

25.3

Tajikistan

62.9

1.1

64.00

55.4

Turkmenistan

2.78

-

2.78

2.4

Uzbekistan

4.70

4.14

8.84

7.6

Afghanistan

6.18

-

6.18

5.4

Central Asia

78.46

37.14

115.6

100.0

Tajikistan is a mountainous country with 93% of its territory occupied by mountains and in Tajikistan there are more 8,400 glaciers with a total area of 8,476.2 km2, about 6% of the country. The main center of glaciation is the Fedchenko glacier - the largest mountain glacier in the world (Fig. 1).

TABLE 3. Characteristics of the Fedchenko glacier

Length

77 km

Average width

2.5 km

Maximal width

5 km

Area with all tributaries

~652 km2

Ice thickness

1 : 1OOOOO 1976 1988 2OO2

1 : 1OOOOO 1976 1988 2OO2

Figure 1. Decline of the Fedchenko glaciers

Zaallay and Kaindi of the Academy of Sciences have noted that just over the last 40 years 14 smaller glaciers have disappeared in the mountain range with a total former area of 7.6 km2. The average speed of movement of glaciers has decreased from 72 to 69 cm daily related to loss of mass. Over the 20th century the glacier system has lost about 12-15 km3 of ice.

3340 3330 3320 3310 3300 3290 3280

3340 3330 3320 3310 3300 3290 3280

300 500 700 900 1100 1300

Figure 2. Cross section change of the profile of No. 4 of the Fedchenko glacier

300 500 700 900 1100 1300

Figure 2. Cross section change of the profile of No. 4 of the Fedchenko glacier

The expedition on the Fedchenko ice field in September 2006 demonstrated that the glacier continues to be reduced non-uniformly at a speed of 8-10 m in a year (Fig. 2).

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