Climate Change, Water Resources and Food Security in Kazakhstan

kazakhstanResearchers Links Workshop funded by the British Council

The University of Reading has won a grant to hold a joint workshop on Climate Change, Water Resources and Food Security with al-Farabi National Kazakh University under the Newton - Al-Farabi Partnership Programme, a new bilateral UK-Kazakhstan programme that forms part of the UK's Newton Fund. The workshop took place on 6-9 February, 2015 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The University of Reading is one of the first group of institutions to win a grant under the Newton - Al-Farabi Partnership Programme.

Workshop Description

The main aim of the proposed workshop is to examine impacts of climate change on water resources and crop production in Kazakhstan bringing together experts in climate modelling, hydrology and food security in order to establish a multi-disciplinary research community.

Agricultural production accounts for approximately 9% of national GDP and provides about 25% of national employment in Kazakhstan. Large-scale grain production dominates in the northern regions and makes Kazakhstan one of the largest importers of grain in the world. This part of the country is characterised by frequent droughts which remain the single most important determinant for grain yield. In the south of the country, household farms predominate supplying produce for local consumption and to the neighbouring countries. Agricultural production in the south depends on runoff generated by seasonal melt of snow pack and glaciers in the Tien Shan mountains which are currently in the state of rapid retreat. Overall, agricultural depends on frequency and intensity of droughts in the north and mountain runoff in the south. Data from climate models indicate that droughts will become more frequent in the future and glaciers and mountain snow pack will continue to retreat limiting water resources by the middle of the 21st Century. It is therefore possible that food security can be compromised in Kazakhstan and in the countries exporting its agricultural produce.

Extensive data sets characterising the observed climate change and variability, runoff, quantity and quality of crop produce exist in Kazakhstan, however, one of the major challenges is to use climate and hydrological models to predict the effect on food crops in the future in order to develop viable adaptation strategies. We need to assess how changes in temperature, rainfall and water availability including snow and glacier runoff will affect productivity of the food crops and how agriculture can adapt to offset the negative effects of climate change, and make the most of any opportunities which might occur. The proposed workshop aims to establish long-term collaboration between the young researchers in the UK and Kazakhstan and to develop capacity to address these issues.

Forty climate and crop scientists, hydrologists, experts in remote sensing from a range of UK and Kazakh universities and research institutes, UK Met Office and Kazakh Hydrometeorological Service participated in the Workshop. Most were early career researchers to whom training was provided by three experienced scientists from each country. The workshop programme included lectures from the experienced scientists, who lead the Workshop, presentations and posters from participants, group discussions leading to the development of potential multi-disciplinary research projects, demonstration of climate model PRECIS developed by the UK MetOffice and training in writing research papers and proposals. The Workshop was successful in establishing new research links and a number of research ideas, proposed during the Workshop, is now being developed as bilateral research project.


Click to download and view a selection of the conference posters:

Breeding Oats for Future Climates - Bisaga

Dust Storms MODIS - Nobakht

Dynamics of Droughts - Saydalieva

Landscape Basis of Food Security - Kopytina

Remote Sensing for Hydrology - Mhenga

Sea Ice Regime in the Caspian - Naurozbaeva

SMOS Mission - Hennen

Sustainable Apple Pollination - Garratt

Winter Temperature Variability - Ospanova

More information

For more information and photos from the workshop, click here.


For further information contact Dr Maria Shahgedanova (University of Reading) or Professor Vitali Salnikov (al-Farabi National Kazakh University) (‎)

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