Region • 16 April, 2018

Hydrobiological studies of Northern and Southern Aral Sea to conduct in May 2018

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From 10 to 30 May 2018, QazaqGeography will organize a research expedition to the North and South Aral.

Chairman of the Board of QazaqGeography, Vice President of Nazarbayev University Innovation, Kanat Baigarin, Manager of the Department of International Scientific Projects at QazaqGeography, Nurzhan Algashov, Junior Researcher at the Laboratory of Biophotonics Imaging of Nazarbayev University, Veronika Dashkova, told about purposes of the trip at the press conference in the press center of the Government.

The trip will cover almost 7000 kilometers on the territory of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. About 20 people will travel along the following 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," said Kanat Baigarin.

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 hydrobiological 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 to make 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.

"We will try to provide information in a popular science style so that everyone could get acquainted with the results of the research," Veronica Dashkova noted.

According to her, the main novelty of this expedition is the comparative data on the composition of plankton. Various species of plankton will be studied, including bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, zooplankton. Such complex data does not yet exist.

V. Dashkova also stressed that the research will be conducted for the first time using the latest technologies, including imaging and spectral cytometry.

"One of the objectives of the Aral expedition is the hydrobiological studies of the Northern and Southern Aral. This is very important. Since the adoption of measures to restore the Northern Aral, studies on the functioning of the ecosystem and the composition of plankton flora are not systematic and require additions. These data are necessary both for assessing the rate of restoration of Northern Aral Sea ecosystem, and for studying the food web and the food reserve. Since this water body has a high commercial importance for the life of the region’s inhabitants,” the laboratory worker at Nazarbayev University, Veronika Dashkova, said.

Nurzhan Algashov, in his turn, called on the media representatives interested in the Aral theme and enthusiast drivers to participate in the expedition. According to him, participation in the expedition is free, but each participant must be a member of QazaqGeography. Membership can be made on the site.

Recall, Kazakhstan National Geographic Society QazaqGeography operates in five areas: geography, climate; environment, natural resources; biodiversity; tourism, travel, local history; historical and cultural heritage, ethnography. At present there are 11 representative offices in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

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