Drought Variability and Land Degradation in Central Asia: Assessment Using Remote Sensing Data and Drought Indices

  • Dildora AralovaEmail author
  • Jahan Kariyeva
  • Timur Khujanazarov
  • Kristina Toderich


The regional resilience of a landscape to climate change in water-scarce areas is one of the core environmental problems nowadays for Central Asian countries. Responses to increasing temperature and high evapotranspiration (ET0) regimes have contributed to biodiversity loss and altered vegetation dynamics and changed the land use and management in these landscapes. Extremely dry conditions and droughts are recognized as an important factor that triggers land degradation in Central Asia. The aim of this study is to conduct attribution analysis to assess drought trends that are quantified using the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) and effects of other biophysical factors on the region and at a country level. The kriging (geostatistics) method was utilized to predict the status of vegetation change trends and generalize additive smoothed parameters to provide response factors for changes of land cover status. Specific objectives of the study were (a) to assess drought trends and their effects on climate–vegetation trends at the regional and local level; (b) identify the main affected regions among five countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) and characterize their patterns for monitoring land tenures; and (c) define appropriate ecological risk zones, especially trends of spatial changes over time with drought trends. The simulated and predicted maps with kriging dependence terms indicated that the climate–vegetation-driven dataset will suffer substantial losses of vegetation health [normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI)] in precipitation-driven regions of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, and that these areas, especially, Ahal and Lebap Provinces in Turkmenistan, Kyzylorda in Kazakhstan, Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic in Uzbekistan, and Gorno-Badakhsan Autonomous Region (GBAR) in Tajikistan, are very sensitive to droughts, which might alert us to the fragility of this ecosystem.


Central Asia Droughts SPEI NDVI-GIMMS3g Precipitation CRU-TS, kriging method 



The project work was financed by the DAAD Program, partly by GFF (TU-Dresden) through a research exchange between Central Asia and the European Union. We thank Prof. Elmar Csaplovics (TU-Dresden) for his potential interest for this area and supporting it. For the technical and statistical part we thank the colleagues of TU-Dresden, Institute Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry, for their expert assistance to simulate data with statistical approach and time series analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dildora Aralova
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jahan Kariyeva
    • 3
  • Timur Khujanazarov
    • 4
  • Kristina Toderich
    • 5
  1. 1.Dresden Technology University (TU-Dresden), Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote SensingDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Centre of Hydrometeorological Service at Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzhydromet)TashkentUzbekistan
  3. 3.Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring InstituteEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Water Resources Research Center, Disaster Prevention Research InstituteKyoto UniversityUjiJapan
  5. 5.ICBA-CAC (International Center for Bio-saline Agriculture in Central Asia and Caucasus), ICARDA Regional Office (The CGIAR Facilitation Unit) for CACTashkentUzbekistan

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