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Lake Balqash, the Qapshaghay Bogeni Reservoir and Lake Issyk Kul

46.2N 74.3E

November 17th, 2009 Category: Lakes, Rivers

Kazakhstan - October 5th, 2009

Kazakhstan - October 5th, 2009

Lake Balqash (center) and the smaller Qapshaghay Bogeni Reservoir, both in southeastern Kazakhstan, and the deep Lake Issyk Kul, in Kyrgyzstan, show varying shades of blue waters.

The waters of Lake Balqash appear turquoise to the east and a slightly lighter blue with a tan tint to the west. This difference could be from sediments draining into the lake from the Ili River (visible at the western end of the lake along the eastern shores), from differences in depth, or from differences in salinity, as the eastern half of the lake is salty while its western half is fresh.

Further south, the Qapshaghay Bogeni Reservoir also has a turquoise color. The Tian Shan Mountains to its south, crested with snow, mark the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. South of the first ridge is Lake Issyk Kul , which is deeper and darker blue than its neighbors.

Tian Shan Mountains Surrounding Western Shores of Lake Issyk Kul

42.3N 77.2E

October 9th, 2009 Category: Lakes

Kyrgyzstan - September 7th, 2009

Kyrgyzstan - September 7th, 2009

The rugged Tian Shan Mountains surround the endorheic lake Issyk Kul in eastern Kyrgyzstan. They are one of the longest mountain ranges in Central Asia, stretching some 2,800 kilometres (1,700 mi) eastward from Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

In this orthorectified image, the Teskey Ala-Too Range dominates the lake’s southern shore, whie the Kyungey Ala-Too Range runs parallel to the north shore.

The peaks of these ranges are usually snow-capped; however, Issyk Kul never freezes, hence its name, which means “warm lake” in the Kyrgyz language.

Lake Balqash After the Spring Thaw – May 9th, 2009

May 9th, 2009 Category: Image of the day, Lakes

Kazakhstan - May 8th, 2009

Kazakhstan - May 8th, 2009

The waters of Lake Balqash, in southeastern Kazakhstan, are bluish in color since the spring thaw;  the lake is usually frozen throughout the winter from around November to mid-April.

The eastern half of the lake is salty, while its western half is fresh. It is very shallow, especially in the east, particularly since the 1970s with the diversion of water from the Ili for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.

Lake Balqash has become increasingly saline and polluted through industrial activity, especially copper mining and smelting. There are a number of shipyards located at the mouth of the rivers flowing into the lake.

Lake Issyk Kul is also visible in the lower right corner. It is deeper than Lake Balqash and appears dark blue. Unlike its neighbor, it also never freezes, even during the coldest winter months when the surrounding peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains in eastern Kyrgyzstan are capped by snow.

Lakes in Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan

May 2nd, 2009 Category: Lakes

Kazakhstan - April 9th, 2009

Kazakhstan - April 9th, 2009

This image highlights several of the lakes in the southeastern part of Kazakhstan and in the northeastern area of Kyrgyzstan.

The large, dark blue lake in the lower right quadrant is Lake Issyk Kul. Surrounded by the snow-covered peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains in eastern Kyrgyzstan, it nevertheless is ice free. In fact, Issyk Kul never freezes, remaining true to its name, which translates to “warm lake”.

The large lake in the upper section is Lake Balqash, in southeastern Kazakhstan. It appears covered with some ice. Balqash is part of the same basin that includes the Caspian and Aral Seas.

Like the Aral Sea, diversion of water from the rivers feeding Lake Balqash is causing it to shrink. This is a great cause of environmental concern, as many species living in the lake are becoming extinct due to water pollution, which has intensified due to the lake’s decrease in size.

One such river that has been diverted is the Ili River, which was dammed in 1970 to form the Kapchagayskoye Reservoir, the greenish lake visible between Lake Balqash and Lake Issyk Kul.

Dust Storm in China’s Xinjiang Region

March 10th, 2009 Category: Dust Storms, Lakes

Dust storm, western China - March 9th, 2009

Dust storm, western China - March 9th, 2009

Sand from a dust storm blows over the westernmost parts of China’s Xinjiang region, below the Tian Shan Mountain Range.

Xinjiang is the largest political subdivision of China, accounting for more than one sixth of China’s total territory. The Tian Shan mountain range marks the Xinjiang-Kyrgyzstan border at the Torugart Pass (3752 m).

Across the border, in Kyrgyzstan’s Naryn Province, the deep blue of Lake Issyk Kul stands out amidst the snow.