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Below-average cumulative seasonal precipitation has impacted water resources in the country for the third consecutive year

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • May 23, 2023
Below-average cumulative seasonal precipitation has impacted water resources in the country for the third consecutive year

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  • Key Messages
  • Update on Seasonal Progress
  • Forecast
  • Partner
    USGS
    Key Messages
    • Seasonal precipitation near the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, from October 1, 2022 – May 20, 2023, is below average across most of the country. Although localized areas of near-average precipitation are observed in central, southern, and eastern parts of the country (Figure 1).

    • Below-average precipitation, below-average snow water volumes, earlier than normal snow melt in most basins, and below normal soil moisture conditions as of mid-May 2023 have resulted in significant moisture stress in the wheat belt as well as in the rangelands in northern, western, and central parts of the country (Figure 2).

    • Snow water volumes (SWV) in eastern basins are below average and even close to record minimums during the 2022/23 season. Rapid depletion of snow due to above average temperatures from February onwards led to depleted SWV levels 4-8 weeks earlier than normal in most of the basins except in Bala Murghab Kushk and Hari Rod (Figure 3).

    • The ECMWF precipitation forecast for May 22 – 29, 2023, indicates slightly above average precipitation in the central, southcentral, and some northeast parts of the country, while there is no tilt towards either above- or below-average precipitation in the rest of the country. During the week May 29 – Jun 5, 2023, a similar pattern exists, with above average precipitation stretching to the northwest. (Figure 4).

    • Both the NMME  and C3S forecast above average temperatures across the country during June - August 2023 except in some central and southern parts of the country (Figures 5 & 6).

    • As per the latest NOAA Advisory, the rise of El Niño that is observed in May 2023 is expected to become dominant during October-December 2023 (94% chance). Above average precipitation can be expected for the 2023-24 wet season.


    Update on Seasonal Progress

    Figure 1

    October 1, 2022 – May 20, 2023, CHIRPS seasonal precipitation percent of average
    Map showing percent of average seasonal rainfall for Afghanistan from Oct 1 2022 - May 2023.  Shows below average throughout much of the country.

    Source: UCSB CHC

    Figure 2

    May 11-20, 2023, eVIIRS (375 m) NDVI anomaly with respect to 2012-2021 mean
    Map of NDVI showing vegetation conditions in Afghanistan as of May 20, 2023.  Shows below average NDVI across large areas of northern Afghanistan.

    Source: USGS EROS

    Current conditions

    As per the key informants, below-average precipitation in the northern and western parts of the country during late April and early May has resulted in moisture stress in irrigated and rainfed wheat, as well as rangelands. Harvest of irrigated wheat has been completed in the eastern parts of the country whereas it is in progress in northern areas. Second season cultivation is most likely to be adversely affected due to below-average water availability in different basins as of the reporting date.

    Precipitation

    At the conclusion of 2022-23 wet season, a northern stretch from Herat in the west to Kunduz in the east received precipitation between 60 to 75 percent of the average while precipitation deficits between 75 to 90 percent of the average across most of the country. There are some localized areas with average precipitation as of the reporting date (Figure 1). Below-average precipitation during late April-early May has resulted in moisture stress in late-sown wheat in the country.

    Snow depth and snow water volume

    Below-average snow depth has been limited to higher elevations in northeastern and eastern parts of the country as of May 21, 2023. Above-average temperatures from February have led to rapid snowmelt over mid- and lower elevations across the country.  Because of this, snowmelt has concluded 4 to 8 weeks earlier than normal in basins except in Bala, Murghab_Kushk and Hari Rod. Snow water volumes in the Khanabad, Kokcha-Ab_i_Rustaq, Panj, and Kabul basins are either below average or close to record minimum as of May 21, 2023 (Figure 3).

    Figure 3

    Current seasonal snow water volume level (red line), historical average (blue line), previous year (gray line) as a function of time
    Graphs for 4 basins in Afghanistan showing time series of snow water volumes.  All basins show earlier than normal snow melt.

    Source: USGS/NASA


    Forecast

    Precipitation

    The ECMWF forecasts higher probability of above average precipitation in the central, southcentral, and some northeast parts of the country while there is no tilt towards above- or below average precipitation in the rest of the country during the week May 22 – 29, 2023, (Figure 4, left inset). During May 29 - Jun 5, 2023, a similar pattern exists, with above average precipitation stretching to the northwest (Figure 4, right inset). Given below average precipitation and hydrological drought conditions prevailing in the country, there is less than normal chance of widespread flooding although there is a small chance of isolated flash floods due to earlier than normal peaking of snowmelt runoff in the eastern and northeastern basins in the country.

     

    Figure 4

    Weekly mean precipitation forecasts made on May 18, 2023
    Map showing 2 week forecasts of precipitation showing chances of above average in the central and southcentral portions of the country

    Source: ECMWF forecast system

    Temperature

    The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME, Figure 5) and Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S, Figure 6) forecasts for June-August 2023 generated in May 2023 indicate high probability of above average temperatures across the country. Second crop cultivation and rangeland vegetation may be adversely affected during the above period due to the persistent hydrological drought conditions for the third-year consecutive year in the country.

     

    Figure 5

    North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) temperature forecast for June-August 2023
    Map showing NMME temperature forecast for June - August 2023 for Central Asia.  Afghanistan is likely to have above average temperatures.

    Warm colors indicate the likelihood of temperature in the upper tercile, and cool colors indicate the likelihood of temperature in the lower tercile.

    Source: NOAA CPC

    Figure 6

    Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) temperature forecast for June-August 2023
    ECMWF temperature forecast for June - August 2023 for Central Asia.  Reinforces the tendency toward above average temperatures for Afghanistan.

    Warm colors indicate the likelihood of temperature in the upper tercile, and cool colors indicate the likelihood of temperature in the lower tercile.

    Source: Copernicus Climate Change Service

    FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.

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