Endorheic basins (i.e., land-locked drainage networks) and their lakes can be highly sensitive to variations in climate and adverse anthropogenic activities, such as overexploitation of water resources. In this review paper, we provide a brief overview of one major endorheic basin on each continent, plus a number of endorheic basins in Central Asia (CA), a region where a large proportion of the land area is within this type of basin. We summarize the effects of (changing) climate drivers and land surface–atmosphere feedbacks on the water balance. For the CA region, we also discuss key anthropogenic activities, related water management approaches and their complex relationship with political and policy issues. In CA a substantial increase in irrigated agriculture coupled with negative climate change impacts have disrupted the fragile water balance for many endorheic basins and their lakes. Transboundary integrated land and water management approaches must be developed to facilitate adequate climate change adaptation and possible mitigation of the adverse anthropogenic influence on endorheic basins in CA. Suitable climate adaptation, mitigation and efficient natural resource management technologies and methods are available, and are developing fast. A number of these are discussed in the paper, but these technologies alone are not sufficient to address pressing water resource issues in CA. Food–water–energy nexus analyses demonstrate that transboundary endorheic basin management requires transformational changes with involvement of all key stakeholders. Regional programs, supported by local governments and international donors, which incorporate advanced adaptation technologies, water resource research and management capacity development, are essential for successful climate change adaptation efforts in CA. However, there is a need for an accelerated uptake of such programs, with an emphasis on unification of approaches, as the pressures resulting from climate change and aggravated by human mismanagement of natural water resources leave very little time for hesitation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited