Turkmenistan

located IN central Asia, Turkmenistan is a country primarily made of desert. It lies between 35 degrees 08 minutes and 42 degrees 48 minutes N and between 52 degrees 27 minutes and 66 degrees 41 minutes E, north of the Kopet-Dag mountains, between the Caspian Sea to the west and the Amu-Darya River to the east. Turkmenistan covers 188,455 sq. mi. (488,096 sq. km.) and had a population of 5,097,028 in 2007.

Despite its extensive oil and gas resources, Turkmenistan remains a poor, predominantly rural country, with the majority of the population relying on intensive agriculture in irrigated oases, and it is extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Turkmenistan has a distinctive continental climate, with an average annual air temperature ranging from 54-62 degrees F (12-17 degrees C) in the north to 5964 degrees F (15-18 degrees C) in the southeast and to the absolute maximum temperature of 118-122 degrees F (48-50 degrees C) in the Central and South-East KaraKum. The highest amount of annual rainfall is observed in the mountains (up to 398 mm. in Koyne-Kesir), as is the least rainfall (less than 95 mm. above the Kara-Bogaz-Gol Bay). Up to 80 percent of Turkmenistan's land consists of desert. Meteorological data reveal an increase of annual and winter temperatures in Turkmenistan dating from the beginning of the past century. Since 1931, the mean annual temperature has increased by 1 degree F (0.6 degrees C) in the northern part of the country and by 0.7 degrees F (0.4 degrees C)in the south.

At the same time the number of days with temperatures higher than 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) has increased since 1983. Climate Models predict temperature increases in Turkmenistan of 5-7 degrees F (3-4 degrees C) by the middle of the 21st century. Precipitation projections are highly uncertain, but given the existing aridity and high interannular and intersea-sonal variability of Turkmenistan's climate, even a slight temperature increase is likely to exacerbate the existing water stress in the region.

Turkmenistan signed and ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995. In January 1999, Turkmenistan ratified the Kyoto Protocol and published the Initial Communication on Climate Change. Because Turkmenistan is covered under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, it can trade carbon credits with other countries that fall under the Joint Implementation Mechanism.

The major sources of carbon emissions in Turkmenistan include oil and gas extraction, petroleum refining, and the chemical industry, as well as motor transport concentrated mainly in Ashgabat, Turkmenbashi, Balkanabat, Mary, Turkmenabat, and Dashoguz.

Turkmenistan has taken some steps to reduce carbon emissions, such as a massive tree planting project throughout the country (Green Belt Project), modernization of Turkmenbashi and Seyidi refineries to conform to modern ecological standards, and relocation of the cement factories away from inhabited areas.

However, the nation's widespread poverty, recent decline in the educational system, misuse of hydrocarbon revenues, and high economic dependence on cotton production and exports leave Turkmenistan particularly vulnerable to high climatic variability, desertification, and droughts.

SEE ALSO: Climate Models; Deserts; Kyoto Mechanisms.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. M. H. Glanz, "Water, Climate, and Development Issues in the Amu Darya Basin," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change (v.10/1, January 2005); E. Lioubimtseva, R. Cole, J. M. Adams, and G. Kapustin, "Impacts of Climate and Land-Cover Changes in Arid Lands of Central Asia," Journal of Arid Environments (v.62/2, July 2005); Turkmenistan: Initial National Communication on Climate Change (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1999).

Elena Lioubimtseva Grand Valley State University

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