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