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University of California Los Angeles (2020)

Lake dynamics in Central Asia in the past 30 years

Zhan, Shengan

Titre : Lake dynamics in Central Asia in the past 30 years

Auteur : Zhan, Shengan

Université de soutenance : University of California Los Angeles

Grade : Doctor Philosophy (PhD) i_n Geography 2020

Water is a key resource in arid Central Asia (CA) and is heavily affected by climate change and human activities. Temperature across the region has increased drastically especially in the mountain region while precipitation change is less homogeneous. The increased temperature has caused increased melting of glacier and snow which has a large contribution to the runoff in rivers. Human activities such as agriculture irrigation and reservoir management also affect water availability. In the Soviet era, agriculture in CA expanded continuously and large amount of water was extracted from rivers for irrigation. This has caused the catastrophic decline of the Aral Sea. In the post-Soviet era, countries in CA have reorganized their agriculture structure to be self-sufficient. It is important to understand how these changes affect water availability in CA especially under climate change. This dissertation uses lakes as proxy indicators of water availability and assesses how climate and human activities have affected lakes in CA. Seventeen lakes located in three former Soviet republics and western China from seven basins are examined using remote sensing and hydrologic modeling to estimate their changes in area, water level and volume. Agriculture area changes in these basins from seven countries are also examined using remote sensing. It is found that 1) lakes located in the mountains have generally expanded due to the melting glaciers and snow ; 2) lakes located in the lowlands have remained relatively stable due to the relative stability of agriculture area ; 3) reservoirs exhibit different seasonal patterns due to their major function as power generation reservoirs release water during the winter while irrigation reservoirs release water during the summer ; 4) agriculture area in the former Soviet Central Asia republics is highly dependent on precipitation due to the lack of efficient irrigation infrastructure while agriculture in China has continuously expanded due to the adoption of drip irrigation and groundwater extraction. In conclusion, climate is the more dominant factor affecting water availability especially in the mountains causing the lakes to expand while agriculture irrigation has offset some of the surplus in the lowlands causing the lakes to remain relatively stable.

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Page publiée le 26 octobre 2020