IWRA Proceedings

< Return to abstract list

Integrated Modeling In Support Of Transboundary Water Cooperation In Central Asia: Ili-balkhash Watershed.

World Water Congress 2015 Edinburgh Scotland
12. Transboundary river basins and shared aquifers
Author(s): Aziza Baubekova (Budapest

Aziza Baubekova [Budapest , Hungary]

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 12: Transboundary river basins and shared aquifers,


Lake Balkhash is among the biggest lakes on earth. The lake belongs to the Ili Balkhash Basin that is shared by two countries Kazakhstan and China. Most of the water (around 80%), that feed the lake, comes with the Ili River that is born on the Chinese side (Dostay et al. 2012).There is a concern that the Lake Balkhash can repeat the fate of the Aral Sea (Carec 2007). According to the UN Environmental Program, Balkhash Lake may lose up to 86 percent of its water reserves by 2045 (UNDP 2007). In order to verify this assertion an integrated model of the transboundary Ili - Balkhash watershed was done. The role of integrated modeling in evaluation of the water crisis with its ecological and economical effects is crucial for management and monitoring of transboundary watersheds.

Climate change and socio-economical changes were assessed for the level of influence on the lake system. Climate Change analysis was processed in Astana with the support of Laboratory of Energy, Ecology and Climate of Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation System. This is the first attempt of downscaling of Global Climate Models for Ili-Balkhash region and make future projections. A Bayesian statistical model was used in order to make probabilistic forecast of climate change in the regional scale (Tebaldi et al. 2005). Nine Global Climate Models (GCMs) from CMIP5 ensemble with two CO2 scenarios emissions were analyzed: RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. Scenario RCP4.5 assumes stabilizing of CO2 emission without overshooting and RCP8.5 a dramatic increase (Moss et al. 2010). Socio-economic development analysis is based on the use of GIS techniques and remote sensing as well as literature review. Nine main scenarios were developed including climatic, economic and combined sets.

An Initial scenario showed a decrease of water volume. The best or 4.5 scenario that provided favorable conditions for the water regime has showed the only positive result and increase of water level. But this scenario is not realistic as finding of this study indicated the rapid economic growth in the near future due to population increase. Therefore combined p4.5 scenario was found more feasible. Under this scenario lake volume gradually fell but did not exceed the minimum level. The worst scenario (r8.5) showed the complete loss of the lake in fifteen years. Despite the fact that this last scenario is based on the maximum values and implies dramatic changes in the climate conditions and economic activities it is still possible to happen.

An analysis of current state of the Ili-Balkhash system showed that the system is unstable.Therefore there was a need to find how the consumption patterns in China and Kazakhstan can affect the water balance of the lake. It was found that there are natural oscillations in the water level of the Balkhash Lake due to climate change. However, the development of countries' economy controls an extent of the natural change. RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios used in the model assume that lands use pattern will change in the future as well as energy consumption behavior. Change in agricultural practices of Xingjian and Kazakhstan in the basin will directly affect the lake. As in the "planned" and "required" development scenarios withdrawal of water from the River Ili has increased and lake started to shallow. The best scenario (4.5) assumes that the climate become wetter in the future and the area of irrigated land will not grow. However this is unlikely taking in the account the rapid population growth in China. In order to follow the RCP4.5 countries would need to revise the legislation and support clean technologies and alternative energy. More probable is the result of simulation of scenario p4.5. The irrigated area will increase as planned. That will reduce the flow to the Balkhash Lake but will be partially compensated by precipitation. Therefore lake could be saved on the optimal level for ecosystem to survive. But taking into consideration the failure of negotiation between countries and the consumption behavior of developing countries the worst scenario (r8.5) can be possible. If Chinese will continue their strategy of relocation of Chinese population from the center of the country to the Xingjian they will use more water than they announced. As Uighur is minority in the China the possibility that China will invest a lot of money in the region is small. This fact leads to the increase of low-income population with an employment in the agricultural sector.

An integrated model shows the complexity of the system and a need in the multi-faced way of solving the issue. A model can be handy for decision-makers in the process of development of bilateral agreements and setting the limits of withdrawal from the transboundary river Ili. The developed model is easy to use and results are visual and understandable for specialists from the different fields. The problem of the Balkhash Lake requires more attention from the international community, as it should not repeat the fate of Aral Sea. There is need in the research of water quality and more projects involving international specialist in the field of watershed modeling. Future studies should include work with local population in order to develop the management strategy and keep the traditional way of life of people. 1. Carec. 2007. International Conference Introduction of Integrated Management in the Ili-Balkhash Basin. Almaty, Kazakhstan.

2. Dostay, Z., Alimkulov, S., Tursunova, A. and Myrzakhmetov, A. 2012. Modern hydrological status of the estuary of Ili River. Applied Water Science 2. (3): 227-233.

3. Moss, R.H., Edmonds, J.A., Hibbard, K.A., Manning, M.R., Rose, S.K., van Vuuren, D.P., Carter, T.R., Emori, S., Kainuma, M., Kram, T., Meehl, G.A., Mitchell, J.F.B., Nakicenovic, N., Riahi, K., Smith, S.J., Stouffer, R.J., Thomson, A.M., Weyant, J.P. and Wilbanks, T.J. 2010. The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature 463. (7282): 747-756.

4. Tebaldi, C., Smith, R.L., Nychka, D. and Mearns, L.O. 2005. Quantifying uncertainty in projections of regional climate change: A Bayesian approach to the analysis of multimodel ensembles. Journal of Climate 18. (10): 1524-1540.

5. UNDP. 2007. Programme Integrated Water Resources Management And Water Efficiency In The Republic Of Kazakhstan For 2008 - 2025. Astana, UNDP.

IWRA Proceedings office@iwra.org - https://www.iwra.org/member/index.php