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Article

Evaluating Vulnerability of Central Asian Water Resources under Uncertain Climate and Development Conditions: The Case of the Ili-Balkhash Basin

1
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
2
Institute of Geography, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito 170901, Ecuador
3
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Steven G. Pueppke
Water 2021, 13(5), 615; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050615
Received: 29 January 2021 / Revised: 19 February 2021 / Accepted: 21 February 2021 / Published: 26 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture)
The Ili-Balkhash basin (IBB) is considered a key region for agricultural development and international transport as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The IBB is exemplary for the combined challenge of climate change and shifts in water supply and demand in transboundary Central Asian closed basins. To quantify future vulnerability of the IBB to these changes, we employ a scenario-neutral bottom-up approach with a coupled hydrological-water resource modelling set-up on the RiverWare modelling platform. This study focuses on reliability of environmental flows under historical hydro-climatic variability, future hydro-climatic change and upstream water demand development. The results suggest that the IBB is historically vulnerable to environmental shortages, and any increase in water consumption will increase frequency and intensity of shortages. Increases in precipitation and temperature improve reliability of flows downstream, along with water demand reductions upstream and downstream. Of the demand scenarios assessed, extensive water saving is most robust to climate change. However, the results emphasize the competition for water resources among up- and downstream users and between sectors in the lower Ili, underlining the importance of transboundary water management to mitigate cross-border impacts. The modelling tool and outcomes may aid decision-making under the uncertain future in the basin. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; belt and road initiative; water resources; central Asia climate change; belt and road initiative; water resources; central Asia
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MDPI and ACS Style

de Boer, T.; Paltan, H.; Sternberg, T.; Wheeler, K. Evaluating Vulnerability of Central Asian Water Resources under Uncertain Climate and Development Conditions: The Case of the Ili-Balkhash Basin. Water 2021, 13, 615. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050615

AMA Style

de Boer T, Paltan H, Sternberg T, Wheeler K. Evaluating Vulnerability of Central Asian Water Resources under Uncertain Climate and Development Conditions: The Case of the Ili-Balkhash Basin. Water. 2021; 13(5):615. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050615

Chicago/Turabian Style

de Boer, Tesse, Homero Paltan, Troy Sternberg, and Kevin Wheeler. 2021. "Evaluating Vulnerability of Central Asian Water Resources under Uncertain Climate and Development Conditions: The Case of the Ili-Balkhash Basin" Water 13, no. 5: 615. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050615

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