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Posts tagged Kazakhstan

Revival of North Aral Sea – October 24th, 2012

46.1N 60.0E

October 24th, 2012 Category: Lakes

Aral Sea – October 21st, 2012

The Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth largest lake – a rich haven for fish, birds and other wildlife and home to bustling fishing ports such as Aralsk.

But starting in the 1960s, massive agricultural expansion in the Aral region saw much of the water from the two rivers that feed the lake diverted into thousands of canals, to irrigate crops. This caused the Aral Sea to shrink by 70 per cent and split into two – known as the North Aral and the South Aral, and leaving ports like Aralsk high and dry, many miles from the sea. This must surely count as one of mankind’s greatest environmental blunders.

But the North Aral is now being revived. The World Bank and the Kazakh government are spending millions of dollars to re-fill it and help revive its ecosystems. The first step is to make sure water from one of the region’s main rivers is more evenly split between agriculture and the sea.

Several hundred kilometres up stream from the North Aral, on the Syr Darya river is the Aitek Wier. The river used to be partly blocked here so that water could flow into irrigation canals. But the weir is more efficient than the previous dam and allows much more water to flow into the sea. When the river water reaches the sea, the 13-kilometre-long Kok-Aral dam allows it to collect and build up.

As a result, the surface of the North Aral is now 50 per cent larger than it was at its lowest point. The dam does, however, effectively cut off the water supply to the larger South Aral, which continues to shrink. But most people agree it is the lesser of two evils because without this dam neither North nor the South Aral could survive.


Lakes and Mountains of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – October 13th, 2012

42.3N 77.2E

October 13th, 2012 Category: Lakes, Mountains

Kazakhstan – October 10th, 2012

Several lakes can be observed in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, northwest of the Taklamakan Desert (lower right) in China. Nearest the desert is Lake Issyk Kul, an endorheic lake in the northern Tian Shan mountains in eastern Kyrgyzstan. Although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes.

North of Lake Issyk Kul is Lake Balkhash, in southeastern Kazakhstan, belonging to an endorheic basin shared by Kazakhstan and China, with a small part in Kyrgyzstan. The basin drains into the lake via seven rivers, most notably the Ili River, which is fed from precipitation (largely vernal snowmelt) from the mountains of China’s Xinjiang region.

Visible to the east of Lake Balkhash, near the right edge of the image, is Lake Alakol, located in east central Kazakhstan. The lake is the northwest extension of the region known as the Dzhungarian Gate (Alataw Pass), a narrow, fault-bounded valley that connects the southern uplands of Kazakhstan with arid northwest China.

Kyzyl Kum Desert and Shrinking Aral Sea – October 12th, 2012

43.7N 62.1E

October 12th, 2012 Category: Deserts, Image of the day, Lakes

Aral Sea – October 9th, 2012

Visible in the upper left quadrant of this image is the shrinking Aral Sea, now separated into three basins. Here, water in the northern and southwestern basins appears greenish blue from phytoplankton growth, while the southeastern basin appears much shallower and drier, and is ringed by white salt flats.

South and east of the shrunken sea is the Kyzyl Kum, the 11th largest desert in the world. It is located in Central Asia in the doab between the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya, and is divided between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It covers about 298,000 km2 (115,000 sq mi). The territory consists mainly of an extensive plain at an altitude up to 300 m (980 ft) above sea level, with a number of depressions and highlands. Most of the area is covered with sand-dunes.

Differences Between Eastern and Western Ends of Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan – September 27th, 2012

46.6N 75.7E

September 27th, 2012 Category: Lakes

Kazakhstan – September 26th, 2012

Lake Balkhash has an area of about 16,400 km2 (2000), making it the largest lake which lies entirely within the territory of Kazakhstan. It is elevated about 340 m above sea level and has a crescent shape. Its length is about 600 km and the width varies from 9–19 km in the eastern part to 74 km in the western part.

Saryesik Peninsula, located near the middle of the lake, hydrographically divides it into two very different parts. The western part, which comprises 58% of the total lake area and 46% of its volume, is relatively shallow, quiet and is filled with freshwater, whereas the eastern part is much deeper and saltier. Here, the western part appears milky blue, probably due to sediments and suspended minerals in the waters. This opaque look gradually disappears as one moves eastward. The two parts are connected by the Uzynaral Strait which is 3.5 km wide and about 6 m deep.

Algal Growth Near Volga River Delta, Caspian Sea

45.9N 49.9E

September 23rd, 2012 Category: Phytoplankton, Rivers, Sediments

Caspian Sea – September 17th, 2012

The Volga Delta is the largest river delta in Europe, and occurs where Europe’s largest river system, the Volga River, drains into the Caspian Sea in Russia’s Astrakhan Oblast, north-east of the republic of Kalmykia. The delta is located in the Caspian Depression—the far eastern part of the delta lies in Kazakhstan. The delta drains into the Caspian approximately 60 km downstream from the city of Astrakhan.

Industrial and agricultural modification to the delta plain has resulted in significant wetland loss. Between 1984 and 2001, the delta lost 277 km² of wetlands, or an average of approximately 16 km² per year, from natural and human-induced causes. The Volga discharges large amounts of industrial waste and sediment into the relatively shallow northern part of the Caspian Sea. The added fertilizers nourish the algal blooms that grow on the surface of the sea, clearly visible in the upper half of this image, allowing them to grow larger.