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Ili River and Milky Blue Waters of Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan

46.6N 75.7E

May 10th, 2012 Category: Lakes

Kazakhstan - May 8th, 2012

The western end of Lake Balkhash appears milky blue from sediments suspended in its waters. The lake is divided by a strait into two distinct parts. The western part is fresh water, while the eastern half is saline, and the eastern part is on average 1.7 times deeper than the western part. Lake Balkhash is one of the largest lakes in Asia, located in southeastern Kazakhstan. It belongs to an endorheic (closed) basin shared by Kazakhstan and China, with a small part in Kyrgyzstan.

The basin drains into the lake via seven rivers. The major one is the Ili River, which brings the majority of the riparian inflow and is visible here on the right side of the image. The Ili is fed from precipitation (largely vernal snowmelt) from the mountains of China’s Xinjiang region. The lake currently covers 16400 km2, but, like the Aral Sea, it is shrinking because of the diversion of water from the rivers that feed it.

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