EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Hydrological Processes Changes in the Transboundary Rivers of Central Asia

Yaning Chen, Zhi Li, Gonghuan Fang, and Weihong Li
Yaning Chen et al.
  • Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, China (

Central Asia, which is one of the most complex regions in the world, is crisscrossed with transboundary rivers shared by several countries. This work analyzes the effects of climate change and human activities on hydrological processes and water resources in these transboundary rivers over the past half century. The results show that the average temperature in the Tienshan Mountains experienced “sharp” increases in 1998, with the average temperature after 1998 being 1.0°C higher than that during 1960–1998. This rapid warming has accelerated glacier shrinkage and decreases in snow cover. These changes influenced the hydrological processes, causing an earlier runoff peak and aggravated extreme hydrological events. Changes in mountainous hydrological processes affected regional water availability and intensified future water crisis in Central Asia. The mismatched spatial distributions of water and land resources, along with the intense human activities (e.g., overexploitation of water resources), have ultimately led to the present water crisis in Central Asia's river basins. This is the main reason for ongoing water conflicts in the region's transboundary rivers. In addition, with the ongoing high temperature prevailing over the central Asia region, the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) of natural vegetation in Central Asia during 1982–2013 exhibited an increasing trend at a rate of 0.004 per decade prior to 1998, after which the trends reversed, and the NDVI decreased at a rate of 0.003 per decade. Shrub cover and patch size exhibited a significant increase in 2000–2013 compared to the 1980s–1990s, including shrub encroachment on grasslands. The ecological crisis has not been alleviated due to the increased precipitation.

How to cite: Chen, Y., Li, Z., Fang, G., and Li, W.: Hydrological Processes Changes in the Transboundary Rivers of Central Asia, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12555,, 2020