Uzbekistan - Climate
Uzbekistan's terrain is mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes. Desert forests account for 78 percent of its territory. The eastern part and the north-east consist of mountains and foothills. The climate of Uzbekistan is subtropical and sharply continental. The main climactic features are aridness, abundance of heat and sunlight, and sharp day-night and winter-summer temperature variations. Excessive solar radiation, atmosphere circulation and landscape features account for these specifics of climate.
The northern region of Uzbekistan is temperate, while the southern region is subtropical. The country’s climate is characterized by seasonal and day-to-night fluctuations in air temperatures. Summer in Uzbekistan is long, dry and hot; Spring is humid; and Winter in Uzbekistan is irregular. Air temperatures in the desert can reach 45-49 degrees Celsius. In the southern region, temperatures can drop down to -25 degrees Celsius. In the plains of Uzbekistan, precipitation is minimal (between 80-200 millimeters). In the foothills, precipitation can be as much as 300-400 millimeters per year, and about 600-800 millimeters per year on the west and south-west slopes of mountain ridges.
Uzbekistan is the world’s fifth largest cotton producer and second-largest cotton exporter. The agriculture sector is vital to Uzbekistan's economy, constituting 24 percent of the country’s GDP. Irrigated farming forms the base of agricultural production. Consequently Uzbekistan uses approximately 90 percent of surface water for irrigation. Lack of water resources and land degradation are threatening the productivity of this sector. Increasing air temperatures associated with global warming pose a significant threat to this sector, reducing the available water for irrigation. As up to 80 percent of the foodstuffs required for the country's population are produced by the agrarian sector, reductions in productivity could threaten the food security of the country. High soil salinity is also an issue in Uzbekistan. Arable lands located at the lower reaches of rivers are especially saline, affecting agricultural productivity.
Climate change is projected to increase temperatures and decrease water availability across Uzbekistan. In the absence of control and adaptive management, this is expected to increase the burden of waterborne diseases as well as health issues caused by dust storms and desertification. An increase in the frequency of natural disasters is a potential issue for Uzbekistan. Estimates show increases in the number of mudflows and avalanches are expected up until 2050.
Uzbekistan will have significant health affects caused by climate change and rising temperatures. Most of the health problems are related to water and its availability. Water Borne diseases play a major role in Uzbekistan's health issues. More than 30% of household's nationwide lack quality drinking water and over 1000 settlements have no potable water at all. The water quality is poor with microbial and chemical pollution due to insufficient infrastructure to treat waste water and purify drinking water. Bacterial pollution increases in warmer temperatures and is reflected in the number of cases of intestinal diseases during summer. As an example, bacterial dysentery increases by a factor of 3 in the summer.
Dust storms are a particular problem for Uzbekistan and water shortages and increasing aridity caused by climate change coupled with land degradation problems have aggravated the desertification processes. As a major consequence, this has resulted in an increased number of dust storm events. Excessive exposure to dust constitutes a major health risk for many parts of the country already. For instance, Karakalpakstan exceeds the maximum safe threshold of the concentration of total suspension particles (TSP) by more than a factor of 2. Winds transport the sand particles for long distances extending the geographic boundaries affected by this phenomenon and over 5.5 million people have become increasingly affected by the dust storms.
In May 2018 large parts of western Uzbekistan and northern Turkmenistan were hit by a severe salt storm that damaged agriculture and livestock herds. The three-day storm hit Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan and Khorezm regions, as well as Turkmenistan's Dashoguz Province, beginning on May 26. The salt -- lifted from dried-out former parts of the Aral Sea -- left a white dust on farmers' fields and fruit trees that is expected to ruin many crops. The storm also caused flights at the Urgench airport to be canceled, made driving hazardous, and caused breathing difficulties for many people. Particularly hard hit by the storm, which reached speeds of more than 20 meters per second, were the Uzbek regions of Khorezm, Navoi, and Bukhara.
Salt storms are common in areas near the Aral Sea, but this one carried salt over a much wider area. Once one of the four largest seas on Earth, intensive irrigation projects set up by the Soviets in the 1960s led to its desiccation. The runoff from nearby agricultural fields has polluted the remaining parts of the Aral Sea with pesticides and fertilizers, which have crystallized with the salt. Inhalation of the salt can cause severe throat and lung problems. The salt also can poison farmers' produce and cause chemical damage to buildings.
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