In the next few days Kazakhstan National Geographic Society (QazGeo) will start expedition to the Aral Sea. QazGeo Project Manager Nurzhan Algashov told about the details of the expedition in an interview with The Astana Times.
“The first expedition to the Aral Sea will last 20 days starting from 10 May and will finish on 30 May. A group of 20 people will take part covering 7,000 kilometres,” said Algashov.
QazGeo has already twice visited the basin of the Aral Sea. This year the team will approach the sea both from the northern part of Kazakhstan and south of Uzbekistan.
Today Aral Sea is commonly considered as an environmental disaster. However, the certain steps have been taken, such as Kokaral Dam. This hydrofacility has contributed largely to saving the north Aral in the territory of Kazakhstan.
The Kokaral dam is a dam that cuts the Berg strait between the Northern Aral Sea and the Southern Aral Sea. The dam is designed to regulate the water level in the Small Sea. The length of the dam is 13,034 m, width is up to 100-150 m.
Thanks to this project, realized jointly by Kazakhstan and World Bank, the water level in the Northern Aral Sea increased by 12 meters compared to the lowest level recorded in 2003 and salinity decreased. The number of fish and its species diversity has increased, the microclimate began to change.
In his interview representative of QazGeo highlighted the potential of transboundary tourism for improvement of Aral situation. “There is a disaster and measures are being taken, but we need to support the region and its community. In fact, the more tourists there, the bigger the contribution we make to the region,” he said.
The future expedition will include researchers and hydrogeologists, who are going to study the water. For this purpose, the probes will takes from approximately 10 locations in the northern and southern Aral in order to analyze phytoplankton diversity, salinity, acidity and other indicators.
Moreover, the photographers and mass media representatives will join the QazGeo group.
It is expected, that all collected materials, both by scientists and journalists, eventually, will give clearer picture about the current condition of the Aral ecosystem.
This year International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea mark its 25 anniversary. Turkmenistan is chairing country in IFAS for the period of 2017-2019. In April UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution on Cooperation between the UN and IFAS. This document, initiated by Ashgabat, shows that world community recognizes the importance of interregional and international cooperation for the environmental challenges of Central Asia. In August, Ashgabat will host a summit of IFAS founding countries.