Broken ice in Alakol Lake
Large chunks of broken ice are seen floating in Alakol Lake, located in east-central Kazakhstan, in this Copernicus Sentinel-2 image from April 5, 2016.
This salt lake usually freezes for about two months at the end of winter, which in early spring – demonstrated in this video. The lake’s mineral-rich water and mud is considered to be therapeutic; many tourists visit the lake in the hopes of curing skin ailments.
Alakol means ‘multicoloured lake’ – here we can clearly see varying shades of green and blue depending on the depth, sediments flowing in from rivers and streams and phytoplankton. The two smaller, shallower lakes to the northwest are Kosharkol and Sasykkol.
The Alakol–Sasykkol lake system is both a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is an important migratory stop and nesting area for a variety of water birds, including the Dalmatian Pelican and Greater Flamingo.
In the lower-left corner of the image, we can see agricultural structures in an alluvial fan. The triangular fan is formed when water runoff from the Dzungarian Alatau mountains (not pictured) hits the plain and spreads out, leaving behind fertile soil.
Credit: European Space Agency