Last update: October 21st, 2019 at 9:00 am
Long plumes of dust covered the landscape south of Lake Balkhash in late September 2015. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the dramatic storms on September 30.
Lake Balkhash lies in eastern Kazakhstan and north of the Tian-Shan Mountains, which can be seen capped with snow in this image. The sickle-shaped lake is Central Asia’s second largest lake and sits in one of Kazakhstan’s most populated regions. It is a semi-saline lake, with the salinity changing from west to east. In the west, the Ile River brings fresh water into the lake along with heavy sediment, so the water has low salinity yet the sediment makes it appear milky white from space. The eastern side of the lake is much more saline and usually lower in sediment. A sandbar minimizes mixing of the waters between the lake’s two sections.