Lake Balqash, Kazakhstan
Lake Balqash (Kazakh: Балқаш Көлі Balķaš Kôli, also Balkhash from the Russian Озеро Балхаш Ozero Balhaš) is a lake in southeastern Kazakhstan, the second largest in Central Asia after the Aral Sea. It is a closed basin that is part of the endorheic basin that includes the Caspian and Aral seas.
The lake currently covers 16,996 km² (6,562 sq mi), but, like the Aral Sea, it is shrinking because of the diversion of water from the rivers that feed it. The lake has a mean depth of 5.8 m, and a maximum of 25.6 m.
The western half of the lake is fresh water, while the eastern half is saline. The mean depth of the eastern part is 1.7 times that of the western. Approximately 1,600 km to the northeast lies Lake Baikal, the largest lake on Earth by volume.
The Balqash inland basin drains into Lake Balqash via seven rivers; chief among these is the Ili River, which brings the majority of the riparian inflow, others such as the Karatal provide both surface and subsurface flow.
The Ili is fed from precipitation (largely vernal snowmelt) from the mountains of China’s Xinjiang region. The Balqash basin is itself endorheic – there is no outflow – and Balqash suffers from the same problems as other endorheic lakes.