By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan will experience yet another dry and rainless summer, already made clear by the temperatures in June.
Azerbaijan is a sun-soaked country with complicated landscapes located at the convergence of several geographic zones and enjoys climatic diversity with its nine distinct climatic zones. The country, however, is suffering a shortage of water reserves.
The Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences warns of possible drought conditions, brought on by global climate change.
The temperature is expected to be a slightly above the norm in July and August, while rainfall will come in at 65-70 percent below normal, the institute informs.
“This will lead to drought in certain areas of Azerbaijan, particularly in low-lying areas. The most severe drought is expected in the Central Aran regions. In addition, the intensity of hot winds will increase in July and August, which will also contribute to the drought,” the Geography Institute warns.
The driest season will be between July 20 and August 20.
Azerbaijan had suffered a drought last year as well, but this year’s dry weather is expected to be more severe.
There were less hot winds during last year's drought, thus it did not last long, the institute said. However, this year, winds will prolong the dry season.
Aside from Azerbaijan, this year's drought will also affect the East European Plain and Turkey.
The drought is also predicated to harm the crop yields. Last year, drought in Azerbaijan had damaged some agricultural products, and destroyed crops fields in regions like Sheki, Shamakhi and Gobustan. Moreover, the lack of irrigation systems has negatively impacted the growth of fruits and vegetables.
Irrigation is based on the water level, which currently is at 30-50 percent of the decade norm in rivers of Quba-Khachmaz region of Major Caucasus, 20-60 percent in Minor Caucasus rivers, 50-100 percent in Lankaran-Astara region rivers, and 10 percent in Nakhchivan, the National Hydrometeorology Department of the Ecology Ministry reports.
Most reservoirs in Azerbaijan use the water of Kura and Araz rivers. The water level is stable now in Kura and a serious increase is impossible, the ministry said.
The productivity of plants will decrease, said Vahid Aliyev, the deputy director for scientific work of the Research Institute of Horticulture and Subtropical Plants.
He stressed, the drought will seriously affect the plants grown in lowland areas, unlike the mountain. “To reduce the impact of drought on the plant first the volume of water for irrigation must be increased. The drought will primarily affect melons, vegetables that are grown in July. In general, the drought will affect the productivity of all fruit trees,” said Aliyev.
The reduced level of water in the rivers creates difficulties in irrigation of gardens, he added.
Farmer Hasan Hasanov said, that the drought will affect mostly autumn and winter fruits. According to him, reduction in productivity may lead to higher prices for fruits.
Forests are also in danger from drought and hot winds.
The drought increases the threat of fires, said Sadig Salmanov, the Sector Head of the Department of Forest Development at the Ecology Ministry.
The department is on alert to protect forests from fires in the summer season, he said.
"A round the clock duty was organized to protect forests from fires. Along with this, fire units are functioning in regional institutions of the Ecology Ministry, and daily surveillance is conducted," said Salmanov.
He said, last year there were fires on a total area of 52 hectares. “There was no serious damage to forest resources as the result. Forest fires have not been recorded this year.”
The sector head also called the population to be more careful to prevent forest fires.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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