Kazakhstan: expedition to study Northern and Southern Aral Sea areas

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ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan’s National Geographic Society, QazaqGeography, will organize a research expedition to the North and South Aral Sea area in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from 10 to 30 May 2018, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

The trip will cover almost 7,000 kilometers on the territory of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, along the route Astana – Karaganda – Balkhash – Shu – Taraz – Shymkent – Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara – Urgench – Nukus – Muinak – Aral Sea – Beineu – Bozoy – Aral Sea – Aralsk – Kyzylorda – Zhezkazgan – Karaganda – Astana.

“This year we are starting a series of our expeditions with the Aral Sea. This is a complex expedition. It involves the people who solve tourism problems, develop tourist routes, scientists who look after the state of the environment, and historians who study the terrain and historical places. Therefore, when we say Aral, we mean not only environmental problems, we also think about the prospect for the development of the region from the point of view of tourism, economy, environment and the biosphere,” Kanat Baigarin, chairman of the Board of QazaqGeography, Vice President of Nazarbayev University for Innovation, told a press conference on April 16.

The expedition of QazaqGeography to the Aral Sea will be the second since 2016, when a team of scientists of Nazarbayev University, as part of the expedition of the Kazakhstan National Geographic Society, studied the hydro-biological state of water in several parts of the Northern Aral Sea. Then the scientists recorded a tendency towards a decrease in the average salinity of the Northern Aral Sea, which made it possible to draw a preliminary conclusion that the ecological situation in the North Aral is improving. The Southern Aral Sea will also be included in the exploration of the upcoming expedition.

Based on the results of the work, data on biodiversity of plankton communities, hydrochemical composition, trophic status and concentration of nutrients, water quality and contamination with pesticides will be collected. The obtained materials will be compared with the data of previous decades, which will allow making preliminary conclusions about the development of the Northern and Southern Aral ecosystem. Information on scientific results will be available online at QazaqGeography.

In addition, the expedition aims to draw a map of tourist routes in the Aral region, and also to collect unique photo and video materials.

Sergey Kwan

TCA