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NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India’s Vanishing Water

August 12, 2009

WASHINGTON — Using NASA satellite data, scientists have found that groundwater levels in northern India have been declining by as much as one foot per year over the past decade. Researchers concluded the loss is almost entirely due to human activity.

More than 26 cubic miles of groundwater disappeared from aquifers in areas of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and the nation’s capitol territory of Delhi, between 2002 and 2008. This is enough water to fill Lake Mead, the largest manmade reservoir in the United States, three times.

A team of hydrologists led by Matt Rodell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., found that northern India’s underground water supply is being pumped and consumed by human activities, such as irrigating cropland, and is draining aquifers faster than natural processes can replenish them. The results of this research were published today in Nature.

The finding is based on data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a pair of satellites that sense changes in Earth’s gravity field and associated mass distribution, including water masses stored above or below Earth’s surface. As the twin satellites orbit 300 miles above Earth’s surface, their positions change relative to each other in response to variations in the pull of gravity.

Changes in underground water masses affect gravity enough to provide a signal that can be measured by the GRACE spacecraft. After accounting for other mass variations, such changes in gravity are translated into an equivalent change in water.

“Using GRACE satellite observations, we can observe and monitor water storage changes in critical areas of the world, from one month to the next, without leaving our desks,” said study co-author Isabella Velicogna of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of California, Irvine.

Groundwater comes from the natural percolation of precipitation and other surface waters down through Earth’s soil and rock, accumulating in cavities and layers of porous rock, gravel, sand or clay. Groundwater levels respond slowly to changes in weather and can take months or years to replenish once pumped for irrigation or other uses.

Data provided by India’s Ministry of Water Resources to the NASA-funded researchers suggested groundwater use across India was exceeding natural replenishment, but the regional rate of depletion was unknown. Rodell and colleagues analyzed six years of monthly GRACE data for northern India to produce a time series of water storage changes beneath the land surface.

“We don’t know the absolute volume of water in the northern Indian aquifers, but GRACE provides strong evidence that current rates of water extraction are not sustainable,” said Rodell. “The region has become dependent on irrigation to maximize agricultural productivity. If measures are not taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, the consequences for the 114 million residents of the region may include a collapse of agricultural output and severe shortages of potable water.”

Researchers examined data and models of soil moisture, lake and reservoir storage, vegetation and glaciers in the nearby Himalayas in order to confirm that the apparent groundwater trend was real. The loss is particularly alarming because it occurred when there were no unusual trends in rainfall. In fact, rainfall was slightly above normal for the period. The only influence they couldn’t rule out was human.

“For the first time, we can observe water use on land with no additional ground-based data collection,” said co-author James Famiglietti of the University of California, Irvine. “This is critical because in many developing countries, where hydrological data are both sparse and hard to access, space-based methods provide perhaps the only opportunity to assess changes in fresh water availability across large regions.”

GRACE is a partnership between NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR. The University of Texas Center for Space Research in Austin has overall GRACE mission responsibility. GRACE was launched in 2002.

For more information, please visit: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/india_water.html

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov

Gretchen Cook-Anderson
NASA Earth Science News Team

##

Contact:

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0918
stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

Sarah DeWitt
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-0535
sarah.l.dewitt@nasa.gov

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0474
alan.buis@jpl.nasa.gov

This text derived from:
http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2009/aug/HQ_09-185_India_water.html

***
table6.1

Table 6.1 – An overview of the major rivers in Central Asia originating in mountains and flowing through or to deserts and drylands –

Currently, the desert biome holds an average abundance of original species of 68 per cent.

[From – ]

http://www.unep.org/geo/gdoutlook/098.asp#table61

United Nations Environment Programme
UNEP – environment for development
Global Deserts Outlook

http://www.unep.org/geo/gdoutlook/

***

**

DESERT LANDFORMS

Looking at a satellite image of the whole earth it is easy to spot a series of conspicuous ochre, vegetation-barren areas that run parallel to the equator, in both the northern and southern hemispheres, along two East-West fringes at i5-35° latitude (Figure 1.1). They are the mid-latitude deserts of the world, lying some 2 000-4 000 km away from the equatorial rainforests. In the northern hemisphere, the succession of mid-latitude subtropical deserts is formed by (1) the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts in North America, (i) the Sahara’s immense swathe in Northern Africa and the Somali-Ethiopian deserts in the Horn of Africa, and (3) the deserts of Asia, including the Arabian, Mesopotamian, Persian, and Thar deserts that stretch from West Asia into Pakistan and India, as well as the Central Asian deserts in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the Taklimakan and Gobi deserts in China and Mongolia. In the southern hemisphere, the chain is formed by (1) the Atacama, Puna, and Monte Deserts in South America, (i) the Namib and the Karoo in southern Africa, and (3) the vast expanse of the Australian deserts (Allan and others 1993, McGinnies and others 1977, Pipes 1998, Ricciuti 1996).

There are many criteria to define a desert but perhaps the most important one is aridity — the lack of water as the main factor limiting biological processes. One of the most common approaches to measure aridity is through an estimator called the Aridity Index, which is simply the ratio between mean annual precipitation (P) and mean annual potential evapotranspiration (PET, the amount of water that would be lost from water-saturated soil by plant transpiration and direct evaporation from the ground; Thornthwaite 1948). Arid and hyperarid regions have a P/PET ratio of less than 0.i0; that is, rainfall supplies less than i0 per cent of the amount of water needed to support optimum plant growth (UNEP 1997, FAO 2004). Aridity is highest in the Saharan and Chilean-Peruvian deserts, followed by the Arabian, East African, Gobi, Australian, and South African Deserts, and it is generally lower in the Thar and North American deserts. Although the aridity indices vary in the different deserts in the world, all of them fall within the arid and hyperarid categories (Table 1.1).

fig1.1.jpg
Fig. 1.1 – Vegetation – barren areas of the world

http://www.unep.org/geo/gdoutlook/016.asp#table11

fig1.3.gif – The desert biome defined by combined (three) criteria

http://www.unep.org/geo/gdoutlook/018.asp

Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea - from wikipedia entry - Desertification

Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea - from wikipedia entry - Desertification

Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification

Desertification

***

Kumtor Gold Mine
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kumtor Gold Mine is an open-pit gold mining site in Issyk Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan located about 350 km (220 mi) southeast of the capital Bishkek and 80 km (50 mi) south of Lake Issyk-Kul near the border with China.

Kumtor is 100% owned by the Canadian mining company, Centerra Gold, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Kumtor Gold Company. The mine started operation in Q2 1997 and produced more than 5.8 million ounces (180,000 kg) of gold through the end of 2006.

Located in Tian Shan mountains at more than 4,000 m (14,000 ft) above sea level, Kumtor is the second-highest gold mining operation in the world after Yanacocha gold mine in Peru.

The mine was linked to a major environmental incident in 1998 when a truck carrying 1762 kg of sodium cyanide (a chemical used to dissolve gold from granulated ore the use of which is highly controversial) fell into the Barskaun River on the way to Kumtor.

External links

* Centerra Gold – Kumtor Gold Mine web page

Coordinates: 41°52?N 78°12?E? / ?41.867°N 78.2°E? / 41.867; 78.2
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumtor_Gold_Mine
Categories: Geography of Kyrgyzstan | Economy of Kyrgyzstan | Gold mines in Kyrgyzstan | Issyk Kul Province | Economy of the Soviet Union | Surface mines in Kyrgyzstan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumtor_Gold_Mine

***
Uranium Mining Kazakstan - Kazatomprom 2005 - 2010

Uranium Mining Kazakstan - Kazatomprom 2005 - 2010

***

The Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, are also affected. More than 80% of Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s land could be subject to soil erosion and desertification.[10]

In Kazakhstan, nearly half of the cropland has been abandoned since 1980. In Iran, sand storms were said to have buried 124 villages in Sistan and Baluchestan Province in 2002, and they had to be abandoned. In Latin America, Mexico and Brazil are affected by desertification.[11]

Globally, desertification claims a Nebraska-sized area of productive capacity each year.[2]

It is principally caused by overgrazing, overdrafting of groundwater and diversion of water from rivers for human consumption and industrial use, all of these processes fundamentally driven by overpopulation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification

Desertification
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea
Goat husbandry is common through the Norte Chico of Chile, however it produces severe erosion and desertification. Image from upper Limarí River

Desertification is the degradation of land in arid and dry sub-humid areas, resulting primarily from man-made activities and influenced by climatic variations.

It is principally caused by overgrazing, overdrafting of groundwater and diversion of water from rivers for human consumption and industrial use, all of these processes fundamentally driven by overpopulation.

A major impact of desertification is biodiversity loss and loss of productive capacity, for example, by transition from land dominated by shrublands to non-native grasslands.

In the semi-arid regions of southern California, many coastal sage scrub and chaparral ecosystems have been replaced by non-native, invasive grasses due to the shortening of fire return intervals.

This can create a monoculture of annual grass that cannot support the wide range of animals once found in the original ecosystem.

In Madagascar’s central highland plateau, 10% of the entire country has been lost to desertification due to slash and burn agriculture by indigenous peoples. In Africa, if current trends of soil degradation continue, the continent will be able to feed only 25% of its population by 2025, according to UNU’s Ghana-based Institute for Natural Resources in Africa.[1] Globally, desertification claims a Nebraska-sized area of productive capacity each year.[2]

Causes
Sand dunes advancing on Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania.

Desertification is induced by several factors, primarily anthropogenic causes, which began in the Holocene era and continue at the highest pace today.

The primary reasons for desertification are overgrazing, over-cultivation, increased fire frequency, water impoundment, deforestation, overdrafting of groundwater, increased soil salinity, and global climate change.[3]

Deserts may be separated from surrounding, less arid areas by mountains and other contrasting landforms that reflect fundamental structural differences in the terrain. In other areas, desert fringes form a gradual transition from a dry to a more humid environment, making it more subtle to determine the desert border. These transition zones can have fragile, delicately balanced ecosystems.

Desert fringes often are a mosaic of microclimates. Small pieces of wood support vegetation that picks up heat from the hot winds and protects the land from the prevailing winds. After rainfall the vegetated areas are distinctly cooler than the surroundings.

In these marginal areas activity centres may stress the ecosystem beyond its tolerance limit, resulting in degradation of the land. By pounding the soil with their hooves, livestock compact the substrate, increase the proportion of fine material, and reduce the percolation rate of the soil, thus encouraging erosion by wind and water.

Grazing and collection of firewood reduce or eliminate plants that bind the soil and prevent erosion. All these come about due to the trend towards settling in one area instead of a nomadic culture.

Sand dunes can encroach on human habitats. Sand dunes move through a few different means, all of them assisted by wind. One way that dunes can move is through saltation, where sand particles skip along the ground like a rock thrown across a pond might skip across the water’s surface. When these skipping particles land, they may knock into other particles and cause them to skip as well.

With slightly stronger winds, particles collide in mid-air, causing sheet flows. In a major dust storm, dunes may move tens of meters through such sheet flows. And like snow, sand avalanches, falling down the steep slopes of the dunes that face away from the winds, also moving the dunes forward.

It is a common misconception that droughts by themselves cause desertification. While drought is a contributing factor, the root causes are all related to man’s overexploitation of the environment.[3] Droughts are common in arid and semiarid lands, and well-managed lands can recover from drought when the rains return.

Continued land abuse during droughts, however, increases land degradation. Increased population and livestock pressure on marginal lands has accelerated desertification. In some areas, nomads moving to less arid areas disrupt the local ecosystem and increase the rate of erosion of the land. Nomads typically try to escape the desert, but because of their land-use practices, they are bringing the desert with them.

Some arid and semi-arid lands can support crops, but additional pressure from greater populations or decreases in rainfall can lead to the few plants present disappearing. The soil becomes exposed to wind, causing soil particles to be deposited elsewhere. The top layer becomes eroded.

With the removal of shade, rates of evaporation increase and salts become drawn up to the surface. This increases soil salinity which inhibits plant growth. The loss of plants causes less moisture to be retained in the area, which may change the climate pattern leading to lower rainfall.

This degradation of formerly productive land is a complex process. It involves multiple causes, and it proceeds at varying rates in different climates. Desertification may intensify a general climatic trend toward greater aridity, or it may initiate a change in local climate. Desertification does not occur in linear, easily mappable patterns.

Deserts advance erratically, forming patches on their borders. Areas far from natural deserts can degrade quickly to barren soil, rock, or sand through poor land management. The presence of a nearby desert has no direct relationship to desertification.

Unfortunately, an area undergoing desertification is brought to public attention only after the process is well under way. Often little data are available to indicate the previous state of the ecosystem or the rate of degradation.

Desertification is both an environmental and developmental problem. It affects local environments and populations’ ways of life. Its effects, however, have more global ramifications concerning biodiversity, climatic change and water resources. The degradation of terrain is directly linked to human activity and constitutes both one of the consequences of poor development and a major obstacle to the sustainable development of dryland zones.[4]

Combating desertification is complex and difficult, usually impossible without alteration of land management practises that led to the desertification. Over-exploitation of the land and climate variations can have identical impacts and be connected in feedbacks, which makes it very difficult to choose the right mitigation strategy. Investigating the historic desertification plays a special role since it allows better distinguishing of human and natural factors.

In this context, recent research about historic desertification in Jordan questions the dominant role of man. It seems possible that current measures like reforestation projects cannot achieve their goals if global warming continues. Forests may die when it gets drier, and more frequent extreme events as testified in sediments from earlier periods could become a threat for agriculture, water supply, and infrastructure.

[etc. – includes a section on prehistoric desertification]

Historical and current desertification

Overgrazing and to a lesser extent drought in the 1930s transformed parts of the Great Plains in the United States into the  Dust Bowl . During that time, a considerable fraction of the plains population abandoned their homes to escape the unproductive lands. Improved agricultural and water management have prevented a disaster of the earlier magnitude from recurring, but desertification presently affects tens of millions of people with primary occurrence in the lesser developed countries.

Lake Chad in a 2001 satellite image, with the actual lake in blue. The lake has shrunk by 95% since the 1960s.[5]

Desertification is widespread in many areas of the People’s Republic of China. The populations of rural areas have increased since 1949 for economical reasons as more people have settled there. While there has been an increase in livestock, the land available for grazing has decreased. Also the importing of European cattle such as Friesian and Simmental, which have higher food intakes, has made things worse.[citation needed]

Human overpopulation is leading to destruction of tropical wet forests and tropical dry forests, due to widening practices of slash-and-burn and other methods of subsistence farming necessitated by famines in lesser developed countries.[citation needed] A sequel to the deforestation is typically large scale erosion, loss of soil nutrients and sometimes total desertification. Examples of this extreme outcome can be seen on Madagascar’s central highland plateau, where about seven percent of the country’s total land mass has become barren, sterile land.

Overgrazing has made the Rio Puerco Basin of central New Mexico one of the most eroded river basins of the western United States and has increased the high sediment content of the river.[6] Overgrazing is also contributing to desertification in some parts of Chile, Ethiopia, Morocco and other countries. Overgrazing is also an issue with some regions of South Africa such as the Waterberg Massif, although restoration of native habitat and game has been pursued vigorously since about 1980.

Another example of desertification occurring is in the Sahel. The chief cause of desertification in the Sahel is slash-and-burn farming practised by an expanding human population.[7] The Sahara is expanding south at a rate of up to 48 kilometres per year.[8]

Ghana[9] and Nigeria currently experience desertification; in the latter, desertification overtakes about 1,355 square miles (3,510 km2) of land per year.

The Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, are also affected. More than 80% of Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s land could be subject to soil erosion and desertification.[10]

In Kazakhstan, nearly half of the cropland has been abandoned since 1980.

In Iran, sand storms were said to have buried 124 villages in Sistan and Baluchestan Province in 2002, and they had to be abandoned. In Latin America, Mexico and Brazil are affected by desertification.[11]

Countering desertification

Trees are planted instead of sand fences to reduce sand accumulating in a UAE highway.

Desertification has been recognized as a major threat to biodiversity. Numerous countries have developed Biodiversity Action Plans to counter its effects, particularly in relation to the protection of endangered flora and fauna.[12][13]

A number of methods have been tried in order to reduce the rate of desertification and regain lost land; however, most measures treat symptoms of sand movement and do not address the root causes of land modification such as overgrazing, unsustainable farming (eg cattle farming) and deforestation. In developing countries under threat of desertification, many local people use trees for firewood and cooking which has increased the problem of land degradation and often even increased their poverty. In order to gain further supplies of fuel the local population add more pressure to the depleted forests; adding to the desertification process.

Techniques focus on two aspects: provisioning of water (eg by wells and energy intensive systems involving water pipes or over long distances) and fixating and hyper-fertilising soil.

Fixating the soil is often done through the use of shelter belts, woodlots and windbreaks. Windbreaks are made from trees and bushes and are used to reduce soil erosion and evapotranspiration. They were widely encouraged by development agencies from the middle of the 1980s in the Sahel area of Africa. Another approach is the spraying of petroleum or nano clay[14] over semi-arid cropland. This is often done in areas where either petroleum or nano clay is easily and cheaply obtainable (eg Iran). In both cases, the application of the material coats seedlings to prevent moisture loss and stop them being blown away.

Some soils (eg clay soils), due to lack of water can become consolidated rather than become too loose (as in the case of sandy soils). Some techniques as zaï or tillage are then used to still allow the planting of crops.[15]

The enriching of the soil and the restoration of its fertility is often done by a plants. Of these, the Leguminous plants which extract nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil, and food crops/trees as grains, barley, beans and dates are the most important.

When housing is foreseen in or near the reforestation area, organic waste material (eg hazelnut shells, bamboo, chicken manure, …) can be made into biochar or Terra preta nova by a pyrolysis unit. This substance may be used to enrich planting spaces for high-demanding crops.[16]

Finally, some approaches as stacking stones around the base of trees and artificial groove-digging also help in increasing the chance of local success of crop survival. Stacked stones help to collect morning dew and retain soil moisture. Artificial grooves are dug in the ground as to retain rainfall and trap wind-blown seeds. [17][18]

In order to solve the problem of cutting trees for personal energy requirements, solutions as Solar ovens and efficient wood burning cook stoves are being advocated as a means to relieving some of this pressure upon the environment; however, these techniques are generally prohibitively expense in the very regions where they are needed.

While desertification has received some publicity by the news media, most people are unaware of the extent of environmental degradation of productive lands and the expansion of deserts. In 1988 Ridley Nelson pointed out that desertification is a subtle and complex process of deterioration.

At the local level, individuals and governments can temporarily forestall desertification. Sand fences are used throughout the Middle East and the US, in the same way snow fences are used in the north. Placement of straw grids, each up to a square meter in area, will also decrease the surface wind velocity.

Shrubs and trees planted within the grids are protected by the straw until they take root. However, some studies suggest that planting of trees depletes water supplies in the area.[19] In areas where some water is available for irrigation, shrubs planted on the lower one-third of a dune’s windward side will stabilize the dune. This vegetation decreases the wind velocity near the base of the dune and prevents much of the sand from moving. Higher velocity winds at the top of the dune level it off and trees can be planted atop these flattened surfaces.
Jojoba plantations, such as those shown, have played a role in combating edge effects of desertification in the Thar Desert, India.

Oases and farmlands in windy regions are often protected by the approach described above by planting tree fences or grass belts in order to reduce erosion and walking dunes. Also, small projects as oases often section their plot of land by placing a barrier of thorny bushes or other obstacles to keep grazing animals away from the food crops. Instead, they provide water provisioning (eg from a well, …) outside this barrier. They provide this service mainly to accommodate the animals of travelers (eg camels, …).

Sand that manages to pass through the grass belts can be caught in strips of trees planted as wind breaks 50 to 100 meters apart adjacent to the belts. Small plots of trees may also be scattered inside oases to stabilize the area. On a much larger scale, a  Green Wall of China , which will eventually stretch more than 5,700 kilometers in length, nearly as long as the Great Wall of China, is being planted in north-eastern China to protect  sandy lands  – deserts created by human activity.

[ . . . ]

Africa, with coordination from Senegal, has launched its own  green wall  project[23]. Trees will be planted on a 15 km wide land strip from Senegal to Djibouti. Aside from countering desert progression, the project is also aimed at creating new economic activities, especially thanks to tree products such as gum arabic [24]

More efficient use of existing water resources and control of salinization are other tools for mitigating arid lands. New ways are also being sought to find groundwater resources and to develop more effective ways of irrigating arid and semiarid lands. Research on the reclamation of deserts is also focusing on discovering proper crop rotation to protect fragile soil, on understanding how sand-fixing plants can be adapted to local environments, and on how overgrazing can be addressed. A proposal combining desert stabilization and renewable energy is Aerially Delivered Re-forestation and Erosion Control System – [25]

Mitigation concepts

Sand fences can be used to control drifting of soil and sand and soil erosion.

A recent development is the Seawater Greenhouse and Seawater Forest. This proposal is to construct these devices on coastal deserts in order to create freshwater and grow food [26]

A similar approach is the Desert Rose concept [27]

These approaches are of widespread applicability, since the relative costs of pumping large quantities of seawater inland are low[28].

Another related concept is ADRECS – a system for rapidly delivering soil stabilisation and re forestation techniques coupled with renewable energy generation[29].

Desertification and poverty

Numerous authors underline the strong link between desertification and poverty. The proportion of poor people among populations is noticeably higher in dryland zones, especially among rural populations. This situation increases yet further as a function of land degradation because of the reduction in productivity, the precariousness of living conditions and difficulty of access to resources and opportunities.[30]

Decision-makers are highly reticent about investing in arid zones with low potential. This absence of investment contributes to the marginalisation of these zones.When unfavourable agro-climatic conditions are combined with an absence of infrastructure and access to markets, as well as poorly-adapted production techniques and an underfed and undereducated population, most such zones are excluded from development.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification

***

A comparison of desert areas – 1997, 2001, 2005 (and, it is now worse, 2009)

http://www.unep.org/geo/gdoutlook/018.asp#fig13

comparison of desertification from 1997 - 2001 - 2005 - from United Nations Environment Programme

comparison of desertification from 1997 - 2001 - 2005 - from United Nations Environment Programme

[From -]

United Nations Environment Programme
UNEP – environment for development
Global Deserts Outlook

http://www.unep.org/geo/gdoutlook/

***

(My Note – just on the other side of the desertification in Northern and Western China – )

Karakol
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Karakol is located in Kyrgyzstan

Karakol (Kyrgyz), formerly Przhevalsk, is a city of about 75,000, near the eastern tip of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan, about 150 kilometres (93 mi) from the Kyrgyzstan-China border and 380 kilometres (240 mi) from the capital Bishkek. It is the administrative capital of Issyk Kul Province. To the north, on highway A363, is Tyup and to the southwest Jeti-Ögüz resort.

Przhevalsky’s grave, a memorial park and a small museum dedicated to his and other Russian explorations in Central Asia are some 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) north of Karakol at Pristan Przhevalsky, overlooking the Mikhailovka inlet of Lake Issyk-Kul where the former Soviet torpedo testing facilities were located. Facilities themselves are still a closed, military area.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karakol

***

Kyrgyzstan
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic, is a country in Central Asia. Landlocked and mountainous, it is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east. The ethnonym  Kyrgyz , after which the country is named, is thought to originally mean either  forty girls  or  forty tribes , presumably referring to the epic hero Manas who, as legend has it, unified forty tribes against the Khitans. The 40-ray sun on the flag of Kyrgyzstan symbolizes the forty tribes of Manas.[5]

[ . . . ]

On 3 February 2009, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the imminent closure of the Manas Air Base, the only US military base remaining in Central Asia.[10] The closure was approved by Parliament on 19 February 2009 by 78-1 for the government-backed bill.[11]

Kyrgyzstan is among the twenty countries in the world with the highest perceived level of corruption: the 2008 Corruption Perception Index for Kyrgyzstan is 1.8 on a scale of 0 (most corrupt) to 10 (least corrupt).[12]

Kyrgyzstan is divided into seven provinces (sing. oblast (???????), pl. oblasttar (?????????)) administered by appointed governors. The capital, Bishkek, and the second large city Osh are administratively independent cities (shaar) with a status equal to a province.
Provinces of Kyrgyzstan

The provinces, and independent cities, are as follows:
1. Bishkek (city)
2. Batken
3. Chui
4. Jalal-Abad
5. Naryn
6. Osh (province)
7. Talas
8. Issyk-Kul
9. Osh (city)

Each province comprises a number of districts (raions), administered by government-appointed officials (akim). Rural communities (ay?l ökmötü), consisting of up to 20 small settlements, have their own elected mayors and councils.

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The mountainous region of the Tian Shan covers over 80% of the country (Kyrgyzstan is occasionally referred to as  the Switzerland of Central Asia , as a result),[13] with the remainder made up of valleys and basins. Lake Issyk-Kul in the north-western Tian Shan is the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and the second largest mountain lake in the world after Titicaca. The highest peaks are in the Kakshaal-Too range, forming the Chinese border. Peak Jengish Chokusu, at 7,439 m (24,400 feet), is the highest point and is considered by geologists (though not mountaineers) to be the northernmost peak over 7,000 m (23,000 feet) in the world. Heavy snowfall in winter leads to spring floods which often cause serious damage downstream. The runoff from the mountains is also used for hydro-electricity.

The climate varies regionally. The south-western Fergana Valley is subtropical and extremely hot in summer, with temperatures reaching 40°C (104°F.) The northern foothills are temperate and the Tian Shan varies from dry continental to polar climate, depending on elevation. In the coldest areas temperatures are sub-zero for around 40 days in winter, and even some desert areas experience constant snowfall in this period.

Kyrgyzstan has significant deposits of metals including gold and rare earth metals. Due to the country’s predominantly mountainous terrain, less than 8% of the land is cultivated, and this is concentrated in the northern lowlands and the fringes of the Fergana Valley.

Bishkek in the north is the capital and largest city, with approximately 900,000 inhabitants (as of 2005). The second city is the ancient town of Osh, located in the Fergana Valley near the border with Uzbekistan. The principal river is the Kara Darya, which flows west through the Fergana Valley into Uzbekistan. Across the border in Uzbekistan it meets another major Kyrgyz river, the Naryn.

The confluence forms the Syr Darya, which originally flowed into the Aral Sea. At this time it no longer reaches the sea, as its water is withdrawn upstream to irrigate cotton fields in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and southern Kazakhstan. The Chu River also briefly flows through Kyrgyzstan before entering Kazakhstan.

(see chart toward top of this post about rivers that have been diverted, dammed, are being dammed or almost totally used for irrigation or other human activities, commercial / industrial / mining uses, etc.)

Agriculture is an important sector of the economy in Kyrgyzstan (see agriculture in Kyrgyzstan). By the early 1990s, the private agricultural sector provided between one-third and one-half of some harvests. In 2002 agriculture accounted for 35.6% of GDP and about half of employment. Kyrgyzstan’s terrain is mountainous, which accommodates livestock raising, the largest agricultural activity, so the resulting wool, meat and dairy products are major commodities. Main crops include wheat, sugar beets, potatoes, cotton, tobacco, vegetables and fruit. As the prices of imported agrichemicals and petroleum are so high, much farming is being done by hand and by horse, as it was generations ago. Agricultural processing is a key component of the industrial economy as well as one of the most attractive sectors for foreign investment.

Kyrgyzstan is rich in mineral resources but has negligible petroleum and natural gas reserves; it imports petroleum and gas. Among its mineral reserves are substantial deposits of coal, gold, uranium, antimony and other valuable metals. Metallurgy is an important industry, and the government hopes to attract foreign investment in this field. The government has actively encouraged foreign involvement in extracting and processing gold. The country’s plentiful water resources and mountainous terrain enable it to produce and export large quantities of hydroelectric energy.

The principal exports are nonferrous metals and minerals, woolen goods and other agricultural products, electric energy and certain engineering goods. Imports include petroleum and natural gas, ferrous metals, chemicals, most machinery, wood and paper products, some foods and some construction materials. Its leading trade partners include Germany, Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan’s population is estimated at 5.2 million in 2007.[16] Of those, 34.4% are under the age of 15 and 6.2% are over the age of 65. The country is rural: only about one-third of Kyrgyzstan’s population live in urban areas. The average population density is 69 people per square mile (29 people per km²).

The Kyrgyz have historically been semi-nomadic herders, living in round tents called yurts and tending sheep, horses and yaks. This nomadic tradition continues to function seasonally (see transhumance) as herding families return to the high mountain pasture (or jailoo) in the summer.

[etc.]

Airports

At the end of the Soviet period there were about 50 airports and airstrips in Kyrgyzstan, many of them built primarily to serve military purposes in this border region so close to China. Only a few of them remain in service today.

* Manas International Airport near Bishkek is the main international airport, with services to Moscow, Tashkent, Almaty, Beijing, Urumqi, Istanbul, Baku, Delhi and London.
* Osh Airport is the main air terminal in the south of the country, with daily connections to Bishkek.
* Jalal-Abad Airport is linked to Bishkek by daily flights. The national flag carrier, Kyrgyzstan, operates flights on An-24 aircraft. During the summer months, a weekly flight links Jalal-Abad with the Issyk-Kul Region.
* Other facilities built during the Soviet era are either closed down, used only occasionally or restricted to military use (e.g., Kant Air Base near Bishkek, which is used by the Russian Air Force).

Waterways

Water transport exists only on Lake Issyk Kul, and has drastically shrunk since the end of the Soviet Union.

Ports and harbours

Balykchy (Ysyk-Kol or Rybach’ye), on Lake Issyk Kul.

[and more -]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyrgyzstan

***

Issyk Kul
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lake Issyk-Kul
Lake Issyk-Kul – From space, September 1992
From space, September 1992
Coordinates     42°30?N 77°30?E? / ?42.5°N 77.5°E? / 42.5; 77.5Coordinates: 42°30?N 77°30?E? / ?42.5°N 77.5°E? / 42.5; 77.5
Lake type     Endorheic
Mountain lake
Monomictic
Primary  inflows     Glaciers
Primary  outflows     Evaporation
Catchment  area     15,844 square kilometers (6,117.4 sq mi)
Basin  countries     Kyrgyzstan
Max. length     182 kilometers (113 mi)
Max. width     60 kilometers (37 mi)
Surface area     6,236 square kilometers (2,407.7 sq mi)
Average depth     270 meters (886 ft)
Max. depth     668 meters (2,192 ft)
Water volume     1,738 km³ (416.97 mi³)
Shore  length1     688 kilometers (428 mi)
Surface  elevation     1,607 meters (5,272 ft)
Settlements     Cholpon-Ata, Karakol
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Issyk Kul (also Ysyk Köl, Issyk-Kol; Kyrgyz: ???? ???, Russian: ?????-????, Chinese: ??) is an endorheic lake in the northern Tian Shan mountains in eastern Kyrgyzstan. It is the tenth largest lake in the world by volume and the second largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea. Although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes; hence its name, which means  warm lake  in the Kyrgyz language. The lake is a Ramsar site of globally significant biodiversity (Ramsar Site RDB Code 2KG001) and forms part of the Issyk-Kul Biosphere Reserve. It is also the site of an ancient metropolis 2500 years ago, and archaeological excavations are ongoing.[1]

Contents

* 1 Geography
* 2 Tourism
* 3 History
* 4 Fish
* 5 The Legend of its Creation
* 6 Russian Navy test site
* 7 Lakeside towns
* 8 References
* 9 External links

Geography
Southern shore of lake Issyk Kul
Map of Kyrgyzstan showing Issyk Kul in the north

Lake Issyk Kul has a length of 182 kilometers (113 mi), a width of up to 60 kilometers (37 mi), and covers an area of 6,236 square kilometers (2,407.7 sq mi). This makes it the second largest mountain lake in the world behind Lake Titicaca in South America. Located at an altitude of 1,607 meters (5,272 ft), it reaches 668 meters (2,192 ft) in depth.[2].

About 118 rivers and streams flow into the lake; the largest are Djyrgalan and Tyup. It is fed by springs, including many hot springs, and snow melt-off. The lake has no current outlet, but some hydrologists hypothesize[3] that, deep underground, lake water filters into the Chu River. The bottom of the lake contains the mineral monohydrocalcite: one of the few known lacustrine deposits.[4]

The lake’s southern shore is dominated by the ruggedly beautiful Tian Shan mountain range. The lake water has salinity of approx. 0.6%—compare to 3.5% salinity of typical seawater—and its level drops by approximately 5 cm per year.[5]

Administratively, the lake and the adjacent land are within Issyk Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan.

Tourism

During the Soviet era, the lake became a popular vacation resort, with numerous sanatoria, boarding houses and vacation homes along its northern shore, many concentrated in and around the town of Cholpon-Ata. These fell on hard times after the break-up of the USSR, but now hotel complexes are being refurbished and simple private bed-and-breakfast pensions are being established for a new generation of health and leisure visitors.

The city of Karakol (formerly Przhevalsk, after the Russian explorer Przhevalsky who died there) is the administrative seat of Issyk Kul Oblast (Province) of Kyrgyzstan. It is located near the eastern tip of the lake and is a good base for excursions into the surrounding area. Its small old core contains an impressive wooden mosque, built without metal nails by the Dungan people, and a wooden Orthodox church that was used as a stable during Soviet times (see state atheism).

History

Lake Issyk Kul was a stopover on the Silk Road, a land route for travelers from the Far East to Europe. Many historians believe that the lake was the point of origin for the Black Death that plagued Europe and Asia during the early and mid-14th century.[6] The lake’s status as a byway for travelers allowed the plague to spread across these continents via medieval merchants who unknowingly carried infested vermin along with them. A 14th century Armenian monastery was found on the northeastern shores of the lake by retracing the steps of a medieval map used by Venetian merchants on the Silk Road.

On the beach at Koshkol’

The lake level was some 8 metres (26 ft) lower in medieval times. Divers have found the remains of drowned settlements in shallow areas around the lake. In December 2007, a report was released by a team of Kyrgyz historians, led by Vladimir Ploskikh, vice president of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences, that archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 2500-year-old advanced civilization at the bottom of the Lake.

The data and artifacts obtained suggest that the ancient city was a metropolis in its time. The discovery consisted of formidable walls, some stretching for 500 metres (1,600 ft) as well as traces of a large city with an area of several square kilometers. Other findings included Scythian burial mounds eroded over the centuries by waves, as well as numerous well-preserved artifacts, including bronze battleaxes, arrowheads, self-sharpening daggers, objects discarded by smiths, casting molds, and a faceted gold bar that was a monetary unit of the time.

Articles identified as the world’s oldest extant coins were also found underwater with gold wire rings used as small change and a large hexahedral goldpiece.

Also found was a bronze cauldron with a level of craftsmanship that is today achieved by using an inert gas environment.[1][7][8]

Issyk Kul beach (2002)

Fish

The lake contains highly endemic fish biodiversity, and some of the species, including four endemics, are seriously endangered. In recent years catches of all species of fish have declined markedly, due to a combination of over-fishing, heavy predation by two of the introduced species, and the cessation of lake restocking with juvenile fish from hatcheries. At least four commercially targeted endemic fish species are sufficiently threatened to be included in the Red Book of the Kyrgyz Republic: Schmidt’s Dace (Leuciscus schmidti), Issyk-Kul Dace (Leuciscus bergi), Marinka (Schizothorax issyk-kuli), and Sheer or Naked Osman (Diptychus dybovskii). Seven other endemic species are almost certainly threatened as by-catch or are indirectly impacted by fishing activity and changes to the structure and balance of the lake’s fish population.

Sevan trout, a fish endemic to Lake Sevan in Armenia, was introduced into Issyk-Kul in the 1970s. While this fish is an endangered species in its  home  lake, it has a much better chance to survive in Lake Issyk-Kul where it has ravaged the indigenous species.

The Legend of its Creation

In pre-Islamic legend, the king of the Ossounes had donkey’s ears. He would hide them, and order each of his barbers killed to hide his secret. One barber yelled the secret into a well, but he didn’t cover the well after. The well water rose and flooded the kingdom. The kingdom is today under the waters of Issyk-Kul. This is how the lake was formed, according to the legend. Other legends say that four drowned cities lie at the bottom of the lake. Substantial archaeological finds indicating the presence of an advanced civilization in ancient times have been made in shallow waters of the lake.[8]

Russian Navy test site

During the Soviet period, the Soviet Navy operated an extensive facility at the lake’s eastern end, where submarine and torpedo technology was evaluated.[9]

In March 2008, Kyrgyz newspapers reported that 866 hectares (2,140 acres) around the Karabulan peninsula on the lake would be leased for an indefinite period to the Russian Navy, which is planning to establish new naval testing facilities as part of the 2007 bilateral Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation, Mutual Help, and Protection of Secret Materials. The Russian military will pay $4.5 million annually to lease the area.[10]

Issyk Kul at sundown (2002)

Lakeside towns

Towns and some villages around the lake, listed clockwise from the lake’s western tip:

* Balykchy (the railhead at the western end of the lake)
* Koshkol’
* Tamchy
* Cholpon-Ata (the capital of the north shore)
* Karakol (the provincial capital near the eastern end of the lake)
* Tyup
* Barskon

References
Geography portal
Search Wikimedia Commons     Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Issyk Kul

1. ^ a b ANI (2007-12-28).  Archaeologists discover remains of 2500-year-old advanced civilization in Russia . Yahoo  News. Archived from the original on 20080101. http://web.archive.org/web/20080101111204/http://in.news.yahoo.com/071228/139/6oy8j.html.
2. ^ International Lake Environment Committee Foundation
3. ^ V.V.Romanovsky,  Water level variations and water balance of Lake Issyk Kul , in Jean Klerkx, Beishen Imanackunov (2002), p.52
4. ^ Sapozhnikov DG, Tsvetkov AI (1959).  Precipitation of hydrous calcium carbonate on the bottom of Lake Issyk-Kul . Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR 24: l3l-133.
5. ^ Lake Issyk-Kool
6. ^ The Silk Route – Channel 4
7. ^ Advanced Russian civilization found-Health/Sci-The Times of India
8. ^ a b Lukashov, Nikolai. Ancient Civilization Discovered at the Bottom of Lake Issyk Kul in the Kyrgyz Mountains. Ria Novosti. December 27, 2007. Accessed on: July 24, 2008.
9. ^ Kommersant-Vlast, ‘Vys Rossiya Armia’, 2005
10. ^ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 12, No. 51, Part I, 14 March 2008

External links

* Guide to Issyk Kul from the Spektator Magazine
* World Lake Database entry for Lake Issyk-Kul
* The Issyk-Kul Hollow at Natural Heritage Protection Fund
* Remains of ancient civilization discovered on the bottom of issyk-kul lake
* Photographs of Issyk-Kul sites
* Jean Klerkx, Beishen Imanackunov (eds.):  Lake Issyk-Kul: Its Natural Environment . Springer, 2002. ISBN 1402009003. (Searchable text on Google Books)
* Touristic information about Issyk Kul

List of seas
Antarctic Ocean
Amundsen Sea A Bass Strait A Bellingshausen Sea A Davis Sea A Great Australian Bight A Gulf Saint Vincent A Ross Sea A Scotia Sea A Spencer Gulf A Weddell Sea
Arctic Ocean
Amundsen Gulf A Baffin Bay A Barents Sea  A Beaufort Sea A Bering Sea A Chukchi Sea A East Siberian Sea A Greenland Sea A Hudson Bay A James Bay A Kara Sea A Kara Strait A Laptev Sea A Lincoln Sea A Prince Gustav Adolf Sea A Pechora Sea A White Sea
Atlantic Ocean
Adriatic Sea A Aegean Sea A Alboran Sea A Argentine Sea A Balearic Sea A Baltic Sea A Bay of Biscay A Bay of Bothnia A Bay of Campeche A Bay of Fundy A Black Sea A Bothnian Sea A Caribbean Sea A Celtic Sea A Central Baltic Sea A Chesapeake Bay A Davis Strait A Denmark Strait A English Channel A Gulf of Bothnia A Gulf of Finland A Gulf of Guinea A Gulf of Mexico A Gulf of Sidra A Gulf of St. Lawrence A Gulf of Venezuela A Ionian Sea A Labrador Sea A Ligurian Sea A Irish Sea A Marmara Sea A Mediterranean Sea A Myrtoan Sea A North Sea A Norwegian Sea A Sargasso Sea A Sea of Azov A Sea of Crete A Sea of the Hebrides A Thracian Sea A Tyrrhenian Sea
Indian Ocean
Andaman Sea A Arabian Sea A Bay of Bengal A Gulf of Aden A Gulf of Oman A Mozambique Channel A Persian Gulf A Red Sea A Timor Sea
Pacific Ocean
Arafura Sea A Banda Sea A Bering Sea A Bismarck Sea A Bohai Sea A Bohol Sea A Camotes Sea A Celebes Sea A Ceram Sea A Chilean Sea A Coral Sea A East China Sea A Flores Sea A Gulf of Alaska A Gulf of California A Gulf of Carpentaria A Gulf of Thailand A Halmahera Sea A Java Sea A Koro Sea A Molucca Sea A Philippine Sea A Savu Sea A Sea of Japan A Sea of Okhotsk A Seto Inland Sea A Sibuyan Sea A Solomon Sea A South China Sea A Sulu Sea A Tasman Sea A Visayan Sea A Yellow Sea
Landlocked seas
Aral Sea A Caspian Sea A Chott Melrhir A Dead Sea A Great Lakes A Great Salt Lake A Issyk Kul A Lake Balkhash A Lake Chad A Lake Chilwa A Lake Sevan A Lake Turkana A Lake Urmia A Lake Van A Namtso A Pyramid Lake A Qinghai Lake A Salton Sea A Tonlé Sap
Retrieved from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issyk_Kul
Categories: Archaeological sites in Kyrgyzstan | Lakes of Kyrgyzstan | Endorheic lakes | Mountain lakes | Issyk Kul Province | Biosphere reserves of Kyrgyzstan | Ramsar sites in Kyrgyzstan | Sites along the Silk Road
Hidden categories: Articles containing Kyrgyz language text | Articles containing Russian language text | Articles containing Chinese language text

* This page was last modified on 17 August 2009 at 20:37.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issyk_Kul

***

In March 2008, Kyrgyz newspapers reported that 866 hectares (2,140 acres) around the Karabulan peninsula on the lake would be leased for an indefinite period to the Russian Navy, which is planning to establish new naval testing facilities as part of the 2007 bilateral Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation, Mutual Help, and Protection of Secret Materials. The Russian military will pay $4.5 million annually to lease the area.[10]

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Manas International Airport
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Manas International Airport

IATA: FRU – ICAO: UAFM
Summary
Airport type     Joint (Civil and Military)
Location     Bishkek
Elevation AMSL     2,058 ft / 627 m
Coordinates     43°03?40.7?N 74°28?39.2?E? / ?43.061306°N 74.477556°E? / 43.061306; 74.477556Coordinates: 43°03?40.7?N 74°28?39.2?E? / ?43.061306°N 74.477556°E? / 43.061306; 74.477556
Runways
Direction     Length     Surface
ft     m
08/26     13,780     4,200     Concrete

Manas International Airport (IATA: FRU, ICAO: UAFM) is the main international airport in Kyrgyzstan located 25 km (16 mi) north-northwest of the capital Bishkek.

The airport is operational 24 hours and its ILS system is ICAO CAT 2. Fog can cause heavy delays especially for long haul flights.[1]

It is also the site of the Transit Center at Manas, formerly known as Manas Air Base, a US Air Force base supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

In 2007, 625,500 passengers passed through the airport, an increase of 21% over the previous year. 23,172 tonnes of cargo were also processed in 2007.

Contents

* 1 History
* 2 Airlines and destinations
* 3 Incidents and accidents
* 4 References
* 5 External links

History

The airport was constructed as a replacement for the old Bishkek airport that was located to the south of the city, and named after the Kyrgyz epic hero, Manas, at the suggestion of country’s most prominent writer and intellectual, Chinghiz Aitmatov. The first plane landed at Manas in October 1974, with Soviet Premier Alexey Kosygin on board. Aeroflot operated the airport’s first scheduled flight to Moscow-Domodedovo on 4 May 1975.

When Kyrgyzstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the airport began a slow but steady decline as its infrastructure remained neglected for almost ten years and a sizable aircraft boneyard developed; approximately 60 derelict aircraft from the Soviet era, ranging in size from helicopters to full-sized airliners, were left in mothballs on the airport ramp at the Eastern end of the field.

With the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, the United States and its coalition partners immediately sought permission from the Kyrgyz government to use the airport as a military base for operations in Afghanistan. Coalition forces arrived in late December 2001 and immediately the airport saw unprecedented expansion of operations and facilities.[2]

The derelict aircraft were rolled into a pasture next to the ramp to make room for coalition aircraft, and large, semi-permanent hangars were constructed to house coalition fighter aircraft. Additionally, a Marsden Matting parking apron was built along the Eastern half of the runway, along with a large cargo depot and several aircraft maintenance facilities.

A tent city sprang up across the street from the passenger terminal, housing over 2,000 troops. The American forces christened the site  Ganci Air Base , after New York Fire Department chief Peter J. Ganci, Jr., who was killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. It was later given the official name of Manas Air Base.

In 2004, a new parking ramp was added in front of the passenger terminal to make room for larger refueling and transport aircraft such as the KC-135 and C-17.

Around the same time the Kyrgyz government performed a major expansion and renovation of the passenger terminal, funded in part by the sizable landing fees paid by coalition forces. Several restaurants, gift shops, and barber shops sprang-up in the terminal catering to the deployed troops.

The airport terminal underwent renovation and redesign in 2007 [3].

Airlines and destinations
The following airlines have scheduled services from Manas International Airport Airlines  ?     Destinations
Aeroflot     Moscow-Sheremetyevo
Air Astana     Almaty
Anikay Air     Sharjah
bmi operated by Astraeus     Almaty, London-Heathrow
China Southern Airlines     Ürümqi
Iran Aseman Airlines     Mashhad, Tehran-Imam Khomeini
Itek Air     Moscow-Domodedovo, Ürümqi
Kyrgyzstan Airlines     Almaty, Delhi, Dubai, Dushanbe, Islamabad, Jalalabad, Kazarman, Kerben, Moscow-Domodedovo, Novosibirsk, Osh, Sharjah, Tashkent, Yekaterinburg
Rossiya     St Petersburg
S7 Airlines     Novosibirsk
Tajik Air     Dushanbe
Turkish Airlines     Istanbul-Atatürk
Uzbekistan Airways     Tashkent

Incidents and accidents

* In the predawn hours of 23 October, 2002, an IL-62 airliner operated by the Tretyakovo Air Transport Company crashed on takeoff after running off the end of the runway. There were no passengers aboard and all eleven crew members escaped, with only minor injuries. They were treated at the joint US Air Force and South Korean army clinic at Manas Air Base. The wreckage was bulldozed by Kyrgyz personnel and left at the site. Airport operations resumed before the crash site had finished smoldering.[4]

* In November 2004, a civilian Boeing 747 cargo transport took a wrong turn from the runway towards the new Marsden Matting fighter ramp. The jumbo jet was too large and heavy to taxi forward onto the taxiway and with no ability to move in reverse it was effectively stuck in place with its tail section blocking the runway. Airport operations were halted for several hours until a tractor could tow the 747 into a position from which it could taxi to the parking ramp.

* On 26 September, 2006, a Kyrgyzstan Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft taking off for Moscow-Domodedovo collided on the runway with a US Air Force KC-135 tanker that had just landed. The Tupolev, with 52 passengers and nine crew on board, lost part of its wing but was able to take off and return to make a safe landing with a 2.5m section of its wing missing. The KC-135, with three crew members and a cargo consisting entirely of highly-flammable jet fuel, caught fire and was destroyed. There were no injuries on either aircraft.[5]

* On 24 August, 2008 an Itek Air Boeing 737 heading to Tehran with 90 people aboard crashed 3 km from the airport, killing 68. Twenty-two people, including two crew members, survived the crash. According to an airport official, the crew had reported a technical problem on board and were returning to the airport when the plane went down.[6]

Main article: Iran Aseman Airlines Flight 6895

References

1. ^ A-Z World Airports Online – Manas International Airport
2. ^ Bishkek: A hub to the Far East
3. ^ Manas airport in Bishkek is completely modernised (in Russian)
4. ^ Airline Disaster Database: 23 Oct 2002
5. ^ Flight International, 3-9 October 2006
6. ^ . The crash is the worst ever aviation accident in Kyrgyzstan.68 die, 22 survive airliner crash in Kyrgyzstan

External links
Search Wikimedia Commons     Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Manas International Airport

* Manas International Airport (official site)
* Manas International Airport (globalsecurity.org)
* Accident history for FRU at Aviation Safety Network
* Airport information for UAFM at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective Oct. 2006).
* Current weather for UAFM at NOAA/NWS
* Airport information for UAFM at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.. Source: DAFIF.

Retrieved from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manas_International_Airport
Categories: Airports in Kyrgyzstan | Airports built in the Soviet Union | Soviet Air Force bases | Chuy Province | Bishkek

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manas_International_Airport

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Issyk Kul Province
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 42°0?N 78°0?E? / ?42°N 78°E? / 42; 78
Issyk Kul Province
????-??? ???????
Country     Kyrgyzstan
Capital     Karakol
Area     43,100 km² (16,641 sq mi)
Population     450,700 (2005)
Density     10.5 /km² (27 /sq mi)
Governor     Emilbek Anapiyaev
ISO 3166-2     KG-Y
Issyk Kul at sundown

Issyk Kul Province (Kyrgyz: ????-??? ???????) is a province (oblast) of Kyrgyzstan. Its capital is Karakol. It is surrounded by Almaty Province, Kazakhstan( north), Chui Province (west), Naryn Province (southwest) and Xinjiang, China (southeast).

The north is dominated by the eye-shaped Lake Issyk Kul, with the Kungey Alatau mountains to the north and the Terskey Alatau to the south (‘sunny’ and ‘shady’ Alatau).

To the south is mountains and ‘jailoos’ (mountain meadows used for summer grazing). The far east contains the highest Tian Shan mountains with Khan Tengri.

Most of the population is around the lake, with Balykchy in the west and Karakol in the east. The railroad from the north ends at Balykchy. The main highway (A365) from Bishkek passes through Balykchy and into Naryn Province on its way to the Torugart Pass into China. Highway A363 circles the lake and A362 runs east from the lake into Kazakhstan.

The province, which resembles the Alps or Colorado, would be a major tourist destination were it not for its remoteness, underdeveloped infrastructure, and growing conflict between Kyrgyz nationalists and independence factions, which in December 2008 flared up again, killing 39 civilians. Currently, it is visited mostly by locals who use the soviet-era establishments around the lake and the more adventurous sort of international tourist.

There is a village by the name of Kyzyldzhildyz in this province. It’s name is hard enough to pronounce for foreigners to the language that the village’s mayor has offered a reward for any American that can pronounce  Kyzyldzhildyz .

Districts of Issyk Kul

Issyk Kul is divided administratively into 5 districts: [1]:
District     Capital
Ak-Suu District     Karakol
Jeti-Oguz District     Kyzyl-Suu
Tong District     Bokonbaev
Tup District     Tyup
Issyk Kul District     Cholpon-Ata

References

1. ^ Kyrgyzstan – ??????-???????? ???????
* Laurence Mitchell, Kyrgyzstan, Bradt Travel Guides, 2008

External links

* Guide to the region from the Spektator magazine
* (English) Karakol – Djeti-Oguz region in Central Tien-Shan
(Mountaineering reports and maps. Although the site is in English, with some web browsers you may need to set  Character Encoding  to  Cyrillic  in the  View  menu of your browser in order to get better display of the main page).

Search Wikimedia Commons     Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Issyk Kul Province

Oblastlar of Kyrgyzstan

Batken A Chuy A Issyk Kul A Jalal-Abad A Naryn A Osh A Talas
Flag of Kyrgyzstan
Stub icon     This Issyk-Kul province location article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
Retrieved from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issyk_Kul_Province
Categories: Issyk Kul geography stubs | Issyk Kul Province | Provinces of Kyrgyzstan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issyk_Kul_Province

200px-KyrgyzstanIssykKul.png

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Kumtor Gold Mine
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kumtor Gold Mine is an open-pit gold mining site in Issyk Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan located about 350 km (220 mi) southeast of the capital Bishkek and 80 km (50 mi) south of Lake Issyk-Kul near the border with China.

Kumtor is 100% owned by the Canadian mining company, Centerra Gold, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Kumtor Gold Company. The mine started operation in Q2 1997 and produced more than 5.8 million ounces (180,000 kg) of gold through the end of 2006.

Located in Tian Shan mountains at more than 4,000 m (14,000 ft) above sea level, Kumtor is the second-highest gold mining operation in the world after Yanacocha gold mine in Peru.

The mine was linked to a major environmental incident in 1998 when a truck carrying 1762 kg of sodium cyanide (a chemical used to dissolve gold from granulated ore the use of which is highly controversial) fell into the Barskaun River on the way to Kumtor.

External links

* Centerra Gold – Kumtor Gold Mine web page

Coordinates: 41°52?N 78°12?E? / ?41.867°N 78.2°E? / 41.867; 78.2
Retrieved from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumtor_Gold_Mine
Categories: Geography of Kyrgyzstan | Economy of Kyrgyzstan | Gold mines in Kyrgyzstan | Issyk Kul Province | Economy of the Soviet Union | Surface mines in Kyrgyzstan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumtor_Gold_Mine

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kazakhmap

khazakstan – 2008 – 69823
(from Encyclopedia Brittannica)

***

http://www.centerra.ca/properties/kumtor/

Overview

Kumtor equipment
Conveying mill feed from the crusher at Kumtor

Centerra owns 100% of the Kumtor gold mine through its wholly owned subsidiary Kumtor Gold Company. Kumtor is located in the Kyrgyz Republic, about 350 kilometres southeast of the capital Bishkek and about 60 kilometres north of the border with the Peoples Republic of China. It is the largest gold mine operated in Central Asia by a Western-based company, having produced more than 6 million ounces of gold between 1997 and the end of 2007. In 2008 gold production exceeded 556,000 ounces.

The Kumtor gold deposit is located in the southern Tien Shan Metallogenic Belt, a major suture that traverses Central Asia, from Uzbekistan in the west through Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic into northwestern China, a distance of more than 1,500 kilometres. A number of important mesothermal-type gold deposits occur along this belt including Muruntau, Zarmitan, Jilau and Kumtor.

http://www.centerra.ca/properties/kumtor/production/

Production Charts of Ore mined

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Overview

Boroo mine and mill complex
The Boroo mine and mill complex, about 110 kilometers northwest of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Centerra Gold has a 100% equity interest in Boroo, the first significant foreign investment for industrial development in Mongolia since 1979. Located 110 kilometers west-northwest of Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital, Boroo began commercial production on March 1, 2004 and produced more than 245,000 ounces of gold (including gold produced during commissioning) by year-end.

The Boroo gold deposit is generally flat lying or sub-horizontal and extends over an area measuring 2.5 by 1.5 kilometres. Throughout the area, a series of mineralized zones occur up to 400 metres wide and typically average from 10 to 30 metres in thickness.

While Boroo is located in a relatively remote area of the world, it is well positioned with respect to existing infrastructure. The paved all-weather Ulaanbaatar – Irkutsk highway passes within three kilometers of the mine site. The main Trans-Mongolian railway, which links Ulaanbaatar with Irkutsk, Russia and Beijing, China, runs through Baruunkharaa, about 20 kilometers to the north of the mine site.

Boroo Technical Report (PDF 5.5 MB)
Download Acrobat Reader

http://www.centerra.ca/properties/boroo/

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310px-Aralship2.jpg
Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification

Desertification
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea
Goat husbandry is common through the Norte Chico of Chile, however it produces severe erosion and desertification. Image from upper Limarí River

Desertification is the degradation of land in arid and dry sub-humid areas, resulting primarily from man-made activities and influenced by climatic variations. It is principally caused by overgrazing, overdrafting of groundwater and diversion of water from rivers for human consumption and industrial use, all of these processes fundamentally driven by overpopulation.

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http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/

Dust Storm in the Taklimakan Desert download large image (3 MB, JPEG)

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=39835

Dust plumes formed over the Taklimakan Desert in mid-August 2009. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of the western half of the desert on August 15, 2009, on the third consecutive day of dust storm activity. Nearly opaque dust not only fills the western half of the Tarim Basin in which the Taklimakan Desert sits, but even pushes past the basin’s northwestern rim. From its western edge, the dust cloud forms a V shape that opens toward the east. The dust’s thickness may be slightly exaggerated in this image as this area has been observed near the edge of the satellite swath (where the satellite has to look through a longer path of the atmosphere to see the ground).

The Taklimakan Desert sits between the mountain ranges of the Tien Shan (or Tian Shan) in the north and the Kunlun Shan in the south. Far from any ocean, the desert experiences few, if any, effects of the rainy season of the Asian monsoon that waters other parts of the continent. Because the basin lacks drainage, any water that enters it can only evaporate away, leaving behind salt. The Taklimakan Desert qualifies as China’s biggest, hottest, and driest. It also qualifies as one of the world’s largest shifting sand deserts, with dunes reaching a height of up to 200 meters (656 feet).

  1. References

  2. World Wildlife Fund, McGinley, M. (2007). Taklimakan Desert. Encyclopedia of Earth. Accessed August 17, 2009.

NASA image courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

Instrument:
Terra – MODIS

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http://www.pulitzercenter.org/openitem.cfm?id=1688

An interview with Sean Gallagher

The Beijinger

July 3, 2009

In April 2009, British photojournalist Sean Gallagher traveled 4000km through Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu and Xinjiang documenting China’s struggle with desertification. An exhibit of “China’s Growing Sands” will be opening on July 4, at 6pm at Café Zarah, on 42 Gulou Dongdajie (8403 9807) and will run through August 5. The opening, which is open to all, will include a 15-minute multimedia presentation by Gallagher. The Beijinger asked Gallagher a few questions about his work:

[etc.]

What effect is desertification having on China and the world?

It is estimated that desertification affects 400 million people in China alone. These effects come in a myriad of forms including disappearing water, degraded grasslands, moving sands and environmental refugees. Sandstorms originating in China have been known to spread to the Korean Peninsula, Japan and even as far as the west coast of the United States. As former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a message on World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought in 2006, “Desertification is one of the most serious threats facing humanity.”

What causes it?
Desertification is not caused by one single factor. It is usually caused by a combination of factors including drought, deforestation, mis-use of water, inappropriate farming methods and climate change.

What is being done to combat it?
Desertification is not an issue that the authorities take lightly. Projects such as the planting of the “Great Green Wall”, a chain of trees thousands of kilometers in length, is currently taking place in the north of China. It is aimed at stabilizing soil and protecting the capital from seasonal sandstorms. Research is also being undertaken throughout China at places such as the Turpan Desert Botanical Garden and Shapotou Desert Research Center. Here, scientists are studying plants to find the best species to ‘fix’ sands and return land to a level of productivity. The main problem is that the task is huge and the affected areas are so large. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of China is now classified as desert.

[ . . . ]

What does desertification mean for Beijing residents?
Sandstorms are the most visually obvious example of the effects of desertification in Beijing. However I don’t think the capital will ever become a desert per se. The idea of desertification conjures up images of huge sand dunes swallowing homes and lands. Whilst this does actually occur in places in China, the threat to Beijing of this is extremely small. The nearest desert to Beijing is in Tianmo, about 90 kilometers north of the city and it is a relatively small dune system. Desertification is about aridity and this is the main factor facing Beijing and the north of China. Drought in the north is a well-documented problem, and the immense project of channeling water from the south of the country continues to be a hot topic. The associated problems with drought include the impact to the agriculture industry and shortages of drinking water, which will have direct effects on the residents of Beijing.

http://www.pulitzercenter.org/openitem.cfm?id=1688

***

[From last year – 2008 ]

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/04/25/es.desertification/index.html

April 27, 2008 — Updated 0357 GMT (1157 HKT)

By Matt Ford
For CNN

Desertification: How to stop the shifting sands

These huge, sky-blackening dust storms sweep across Asia in March and April, bringing with them millions of tons of sand from inner Mongolia and depositing it in China and on across the Korean peninsula to Japan.

During the past few years the storms have grown in ferocity and scale, and they are at the vanguard of an advancing Gobi desert that threatens more than 400 million people in the Chinese provinces of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi.

The economic toll has been estimated to cost the Chinese economy $6.5 billion per year. But desertification is not limited to China and it is fast becoming a serious global problem that will only be exacerbated by climate change.

[etc.]

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Swallowed by Sand: China’s Billion-Dollar Battle Against Desertification

// By Karen Bennett on August 5, 2008
Location: Minqin County, China
Photo by Flickr user kenpower

It is estimated that desertification, a process of land degradation that occurs in dryland ecosystems due to overexploitation and land mismanagement, now costs China about $2-3 billion each year. China’s experience is not unique. In Africa, for example, worsening soil conditions could mean that the continent could only feed a quarter of its inhabitants by 2025.

Minqin County is one of the driest places in China, and it stands on the front line of China’s battle against desertification. Up until recently, Minqin acted as a natural barrier between the deserts and the rest of the country. But within the next decade, the Tengger and Badain Jaran deserts are expected to swallow Minqin county.

In Minqin’s “lake district” (named after a lake that dried up in 1957), 70% of the land has been lost to desertification or destroyed by the saline-alkaline soils that are produced by the overexploitation of groundwater. Additionally, violent sandstorms are a common occurrence, covering homes and roads in their wake. These sandstorms often spread to North and South Korea and have been linked to respiratory problems in California. At a rate of 10m per year, the encroachment of desert upon Minqin is fearsome, and government-led cultivation, deforestation, irrigation and reclamation are all being blamed.

Historically, Minqin County depended on the Shiyang River for its water needs. But in the late 1950s, government officials diverted the Shiyang river to construct the Hongyashan Reservoir in an effort to boost food production. As a result, Minqin County is now forced to rely on groundwater and water from the reservoir.

In 2004, the Hongyashan went completely dry and had to be refilled by emergency water diversions from the Yellow River. Groundwater resources are also drying up from overuse, wrecking the natural systems ability to provide ecosystem services such as soil formation. Groundwater levels are dropping by up to a meter each year, and best estimates predict that at this rate, groundwater will completely run out in 17 years. This overexploitation of groundwater, along with the insufficient re-supplying of surface water, has led to such serious water quality problems that the majority of water in Minqin is undrinkable. More than a million people are now facing a drinking water crisis.

Recently, the Chinese government has taken action to halt desertification in Minqin. Since 2001, they have spent nearly $9 billion trying to restore ecosystem services by planting forests, establishing desert vegetation and creating a 330-km belt of trees to manage the advancing desert. Unfortunately, a large portion of the vegetation has died, the belt of trees lays stranded by sand, and the desert now extends over 40,000 hectares of the county. The government has also been funding more than 30,000 farmers to leave their ancestral homes due to the encroaching desert. In Northern Minqin, entire villages have been abandoned.

Still, some people see reason for hope. Shi Shuzu, a resident of Songhe Village who is over 70 years old, has discovered methods to enable trees to survive in Minqin. After more than half a century of experimentation, Shi has established a patch of green land in Songhe Village – Minqin’s first in 10 years.
Topics:

* china
* ecosystem services
* water

http://www.wri.org/stories/2008/08/swallowed-sand-chinas-billion-dollar-battle-against-desertification

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The [Aral Sea](http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=aral+sea&sl…), on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, is a cautionary tale about how changes to ecosystems can have far-reaching impacts on the communities that depend on the services they provide.

In the early 1900s, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest inland lake in the world, providing a wealth of important [ecosystem services](node/2262) to communities, including fishing stocks and preservation of surrounding water and soil quality. The Aral Sea’s salinity and volume levels were held stable by inflows of freshwater from the Syr Darya river on the east and the Amu Darya river to the south.

In 1918, policymakers from the former Soviet Union decided to divert fresh water from the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya for irrigation. This was an essential part of their plans to increase cotton production, which they referred to as “white gold,” a major Soviet export. The Soviet decision makers knew that increased withdrawals from the rivers would shrink the Aral Sea to a residual brine lake. However, they believed that when the benefits of increased agricultural output were weighed against the ecosystem service benefits of the sea, the Aral’s desiccation was worthwhile.

The Soviet plan to maximize one ecosystem service—fresh water—at the cost of many others proceeded, and the 1930s saw the construction of a system of irrigation canals. Crop production rose as irrigated areas in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan jumped from 6.4 million acres to 15.9 million acres over two decades, employing millions of people in the region. But with its major inflows being diverted for irrigation, the Aral Sea began shrinking in the 1960s. By 2005, it had lost more than half of its surface area, exposing nearly 30,000 km2 of lake bed, and nearly three-quarters of its volume.

The formerly thriving fishing industry collapsed as the freshwater influx declined and salinity increased, leading to the disappearance of 60,000 jobs linked to the Aral Sea fishery. The dried up sea bed produced dust storms laden with chemicals and pesticides from the intensive agriculture occurring along the two rivers. This in turn led to increased air and water pollution levels, and crop damage as much as 1,000 km away. Cancers, respiratory diseases, anemia, miscarriages, and kidney and liver diseases soared in the region. Thousands of people were forced to abandon their homes as their livelihoods dried up and their health was threatened.

By 1987, the Aral Sea had split into two segments—the North Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, and the South Aral Sea, more or less in Uzbekistan. In 1995, the World Bank and Kazak government built a dam to prevent water in the northern section from flowing into the southern portion. Improvements were made to irrigation along the Syr Darya River, preserving more of the main water flow into the North Aral Sea. The plan has met with success; from 2005 to 2007, the surface area of the sea’s northern section expanded by over 800 square kilometers. As fish stocks have been reintroduced, the local economy is growing. The villages near the North Aral Sea now benefit from more of the ecosystem’s services; locals experience fewer sandstorms and more rain, which has improved the drinking water, air quality, and residents health.

Unfortunately, the much larger South Aral Sea is still shrinking. Uzbek leaders are unwilling to relinquish the primary water source for their cotton irrigation. Uzbekistan remains one of the world’s major cotton exporters, and thus the Amu Darya is still being diverted to irrigate the crops that sustain the lives of millions of people.

The Sudoche wetlands just south of the Aral have been successfully restored, leading to improved well-being for the local populations.1 Uzbekistan has recently announced plans to explore the dried-up Aral Sea bed for oil. It remains to be seen whether these developments will benefit the region as a whole.

  1. Slootweg, R. (2008). Valuation of ecosystem services in SEA – Aral Sea Wetland Restoration Strategy (draft).

Stopping the sandstorms

Jiang Gaoming

April 13, 2007

Beijing is choking as dust sweeps in from China’s arid, ecologically-degraded west. Jiang Gaoming investigates, and finds that efforts to restore the western grasslands are failing.

“Arid and semi-arid areas can only support one or two people per square kilometre. In China, population density in these areas is over 10 people per square kilometre.”

In Beijing, the weather forecast says that more sandstorms are on the way. The capital was hit by four sandstorms in March, and even Shanghai was recently smothered by dust clouds from the north. Television reports now describe these events as “sandy weather”, rather than “sandstorms”. But whatever you call them, they are becoming ever more frequent visitors to Beijing in springtime.

While everyone is cursing the weather, I find myself worrying: how many tonnes of soil are being lost? And how long will it be before there is nowhere in China for plants to take root? Academics argue to what extent these sandstorms are “imports” from Mongolia and the former Soviet Republics, or whether they are the “domestic” products of the arid deserts and damaged grasslands of China’s west. But either way, there is no denying the degree of environmental degradation in western China over the last three decades. Regardless of whether the capital’s weather comes from beyond its borders, China needs to put measures in place to restore the grasslands and reduce the risk of sandstorms.

Sixty billion yuan has been invested in projects to control the sandstorms that are hitting northeastern China. Tree-planting projects have also been running for 30 years across north China. But why haven’t they worked? And more importantly – what will?

To answer this question, let’s first consider the difference between trees and grass. Ecologists look at vegetation in terms of its quantity and the area it covers. In China’s deserts and grasslands, grass is by far the most common form of vegetation, followed by scrub and then trees. On the Xilinguole grasslands, for example, trees account for only 0.87% of the total vegetation. The current strategy – to plant trees to help with problems caused by a lack of grass – contradicts principles of ecological management. In fact, our repeated calls for change have now resulted in more attention being placed on scrub. Scientists agree that millions of years ago these areas were once covered with trees, but this is the distant past – no amount of spending will bring ancient forests back. In fact, grass is much more effective than trees at stopping sandstorms, and it does not need to be planted. Simply protect it, and it will grow. Trees use up groundwater, while grass uses only rainwater. Grass is denser and fixes the soil in place; it also keeps the ground moist by retaining precipitation, meaning there is no dust to blow away – something trees cannot do.

Secondly, we need to consider where we are focusing our sandstorm-control efforts. Currently, our work ends up being concentrated in areas that are easy to reach and monitor: regions that are accessible by road. Lots of money has been spent, with some good results. But nobody asks questions about the very remote, ecologically-degraded areas that are less accessible, but have more responsibility for sandstorms. I once asked a local forestry official why they were not using aerial sowing techniques to rehabilitate these areas. His answer was simple: “Who would notice?” Current schemes are designed to be seen by the officials who approve their funding. Do not get too excited by those recovered grasslands and forests you see alongside the highways; they only cover 10% of the total affected area. The other 90% causes the continuing sandstorms.

Thirdly, we need to look at the relationship between man and nature. Arid and semi-arid areas can only support one or two people per square kilometre. In China, population density in these areas is over 10 people per square kilometre. The original inhabitants were nomadic, and would move in search of grass and water, giving the grasslands a chance to recover. But now they have settled, increasing the pressure on the environment – and inevitably damaging it. Measures are needed to move this scattered population into towns and cities; funds for ecological management should be used to this end.

Fourthly, we must reconsider the relationship between ecological management and poverty relief. Sandstorms are caused by the consumption of grass by livestock, by the clearing of grasslands for crops and by deforestation. At present, sandstorm-control programmes have little regard for the lives of local people. The money that is being spent brings them scant benefit, and only helps the people that receive the funding directly. My rough calculations show that spending on major sandstorm control projects amounts to around 326 yuan (US$42) per mu (666.67 square metres). In the south of Inner Mongolia that works out to almost 500,000 yuan (around US$64,705) per household. If as little as one-tenth of that figure was actually spent on getting the locals to give up their livestock and plant trees, there would be no danger of sandstorms. And the locals would still end up better off – at present, none of this funding reaches them, and most struggle to earn 10,000 yuan (US$1,294) per year. In one part of Inner Mongolia, a fortune has been spent on restoring the grasslands, but no one can come up with the 10,000 yuan needed to retain it.

Finally, we need to ask questions about the relationship between China’s east and west. At present, much of China’s livestock is in the west, in ecologically-vulnerable areas such as Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. Ideally, these animals would eat straw, which is a by-product of agriculture. But all of the straw is in the east, in provinces such as Shandong, Henan and Hebei, which have a far greater production capacity for animal fodder than the grasslands – 50 to 100 times greater, in fact. This holds back the development of livestock farming. Straw in the east is simply burnt off, while degraded ecosystems in the west struggle to support livestock. The largest source of income for the west is funding for reforestation and environmental protection projects, with highly marked-up animal products coming second. These products cost five to 10 times as much to produce than they would in agricultural areas with better conditions. China’s west should not develop its animal farming further, or sooner or later the grasslands will be grazed bare, leaving the rest of the country to pick up the bill for its recovery.

Can China stop the sandstorms? If we do not take heed, maybe not. Of course, it may not be too long before all the soil is blown away. That would put an end to the capital’s sandstorms, but it might also put an end to Beijing.


Jiang Gaoming is a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Botany. He is also vice secretary-general of the UNESCO China-MAB (Man and the Biosphere) Committee and a member of the UNESCO MAB Urban Group.

Jiang Gaoming<br/>

Jiang Gaoming is a professor and Ph.D. tutor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Botany. He is also vice secretary-general of China Society of Biological Conservation and board member of China Environmental Culture Promotion Association. He is known for his concepts of “urban vegetation” and allowing damaged ecosystems to recover naturally.