The natural features of east Kazakhstan

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №2 - 2011

Mambetkaziyev Yerezhep, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Mambetkaziyev Aidar, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Mambetkaziyeva Raushan, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Danilova Nina, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The East Kazakhstan region (East Kazakhstan) is located in the northeastern part of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It occupies the southwestern periphery of the Altay mountain system (South-West Altay or Kazakhstan Altay). “Altay” from the Mongolian means "golden mountains". Kazakhstan Altay consists of three well-isolated mountain regions: Rudny Altay, South Altay and Kalbinsky Altay. An extensive mountain Zaysan and the Saur-Tarbagatay joins it from the south, the Irtysh plain and the eastern part of the Kazakh low hills on the west. Territory of the East Kazakhstan region extends 800 km from north to south (51 ° 38 'N - 45 ° 32' N) and 600 km from west to east (7b°4b'- 81°21`VD). With an area of 283.23 sq. km the East Kazakhstan region takes the third place in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this territory three European countries such as Bulgaria (111 000 sq. km.), Greece (132 000 sq. km) and Albania (29000 sq. km)) could be easily accommodated. The population of East Kazakhstan is 1396.7 thousand people. The administrative center is the Ust-Kamenogorsk city.

East Kazakhstan is one of the largest industrial centers of the Republic of Kazakhstan, where mining, quarrying, non-ferrous metallurgy, heavy machinery manufacturing, power engineering and agricultural areas of the economy are highly developed. The territory of East Kazakhstan has an important geopolitical position as a key region of Eurasia. It is the junction of the four largest countries: Kazakhstan, Russia, China and Mongolia. Passing through the territory of these countries are the shortest land routes from the eastern regions of Eurasia to the west and from southern to northern regions. The Irtysh River, which flows in the East Kazakhstan region, is a transboundary river of the three countries (China, Kazakhstan and Russia). The transboundary nature of the Irtysh River determines the difference of interest in its use defined by the specific natural and ecological conditions of the neighboring countries. In this regard, issues of transboundary pollution transport and biodiversity are urgent and require not only regionally but also internationally decision-making.

East Kazakhstan is a unique region of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is located deep in the largest Eurasian continent. From the south the East Kazakhstan encircles the steppes of Kazakhstan and Central Asian deserts, Siberian taiga gets here from the north-east. Here, where the stark Siberia meets the hot Central Asia, a region of unique landscapes with a unique world of plants and animals, the land of amazing natural features was formed. On a variety of landscapes and the richness of the earth's interior the East Kazakhstan can compete with entire continents. Metaphorically it is called "the continent, compressed to the limits".

The East Kazakhstan region geographical uniqueness lays in the fact that it is located in the depths of the largest Eurasian continent within its central area on the border of the great Western Siberia, Central Asia and Kazakhstan plains. On the territory of the East Kazakhstan there is the Earth’s continental pole and the geographical center of Eurasia. The nature of the East Kazakhstan is varied and unique in many ways. Contrast is one of its main features. On the territory of East Kazakhstan there is the legitimate vertical zonation of climate, vegetation and soils.

Geological structure

The geological development of the territory of East Kazakhstan has passed a long and difficult path. Geological structure is notable for its tectonic complexity and age diversity of structural elements. Structural systems are composed of sedimentary, metamorphic, magmatic formations of the lower and upper Paleozoic volcanic-dominated sediments. The territory belongs to the field of secondary mountains formation, accumulative plains and elevated plains of denudation.

Topography and climate

The topography of the Eastern Kazakhstan is also complex, diverse and contrasting: from the plains, foothills and hilly hillocky on the left bank of the Irtysh river basin and to the mountain on the right bank. The altitude varies in the range from 145 m to the north-west to 4,500 m above sea level in the east (Beluha - 4506 m). Mountains occupy 80% of Kazakhstan or South-West Altai and are an outpost of High Asia. Mountain systems, barriers on the territory of East Kazakhstan, have a complex structure. They are the powerful mining sites with the centers of glaciations and narrow valleys. The mountain ranges fan out to the west. Such intra-geographical and barrier advantage of Altay plays an important role in the global-planetary processes. First of all, it affects the climate of East Kazakhstan. Latitudinal zonation of climate is typical for such latitudes for the rest of the territory of Kazakhstan but in Eastern Kazakhstan region it is disrupted by the presence of a greater part of the complex mountainous terrain and its effects on circulation and radiative processes. The climate of East Kazakhstan is generally transitional from temperate continental to dramatically continental. In the winter the whole territory of the region falls under the western spur of a powerful Asian (Mongolian-Siberian) anticyclone. Anticyclone determines the prevalence of the northern, northwestern and northeastern cold intrusions. In the summer the area is affected by a powerful Asian depression, which occupies almost the whole territory of Kazakhstan. The depression center is located over the Iranian plateau and the Thar Desert on its eastern periphery. The hot, dry air masses from the south and southwest often penetrate to the region during the summer. Winter in the East Kazakhstan region is long and cold with strong frosts. The summer is hot. Temperature conditions in the winter are formed under the influence of negative radiation balance and frequent emissions of the Arctic north air masses, which create an extremely harsh winters. In the mountains in winter there is an intense radiative cooling, the flow of cold mountain air and its stagnation in the foothills and valleys of closed areas. The upper parts of slopes that have good air exchange with the atmosphere have a higher temperature compared to the valleys and hollows.

A characteristic feature of the spring and autumn periods is the widespread instability of weather and frequent recurrent cold. In the mountains of East Kazakhstan at altitudes ranging from 600 to 1400 meters an increased frequency of clear sky conditions and intense solar radiation zones are allocated. According to the number of hours of sunshine this zone is not inferior to the famous Swiss Davos resort and that is great potential for development in the tourism and recreational facilities in the foothill and mountain areas in all seasons.

The wind regime in the region is characterized by extraordinary diversity mainly due to a variety of the relief. In the winter on the plains the winds of the southern and south-western areas dominate. Closer to the mountains in the piedmont area south and south-east winds dominate. In the mountains the wind direction depends on the orientation of the mountain valleys. All the main valleys in the area are oriented from west to east and it is noted here mainly the west-east transporting. In the summer, everywhere, except the mountain valleys of northern winds the north-eastern direction prevails. In the mountain valleys as in winter West-east winds dominate. Wind speeds mostly have small values. Foothills and mountain areas of the field are characterized by the low-speed and high frequency of calms (80%). Average wind speed is 2.5 - 3.5 m / sec. However, in some areas strong winds (15 m / s and more) are no exception, and the average number of days per year with such wind reaches 18-20. The greatest wind activity is observed at the station Zhangiz-Tobe, Karaul, Zharma. In the long-term average for the autumn-winter period (October - March) it is observed here from 70 to 105 days with strong wind (force 15 m / s and more). These areas are mostly favorable for wind power development.

Moisture regime caused by the fact that the territory of the region is inaccessible for moist air masses in winter and summer. The incoming air masses here are generally poor in moisture so the climate of the region is almost universally characterized by a denominated aridity. As we approach the mountain ridges, which are activated under the influence of atmospheric fronts, precipitation increases. Depending on the altitude, landforms and the exposure of the slopes in mountainous areas the amount of precipitations is about 400-800 mm and on the western slopes of the open west-east transport this number is up to 1500 mm (Malaya Ulba). Drier inland valleys are narrow leeward slopes. Especially dry southern slopes are the Altai Mountains slopes facing the basin of Lake Zaysan, the annual amount of which is only about 160 mm.

The radiation natural factors include elevated levels of background radioactivity with characteristics in the field of local anomalies and the locations of granitic masses of different ages. All the total radioactivity increases and natural radioactive elements in the region are due to the outputs on the active surface of volcanic-sedimentary rocks and granitoids. Natural radiation background field is high and reaches 31-56 mc / hr. At the same time the territory of Eastern Kazakhstan is poorly studied for the radon danger. Landscapes of Eastern Kazakhstan are very different, not only because of the history of development of the region, but also because of the fact that it joined the Western Siberia, Central and Middle Asia. "The continent that has been compressed to the limit" gives an opportunity to visit these northern “singing” sands of the desert, halophytic in semi-arid landscapes, in grass-forb and feather grass steppes, crossing the mountain taiga belt blackened forests and pine forests, to appear in alpine splendor of magnificent sub-alpine and alpine meadows, then into the mountain tundra belt, and finally ascend to the eternal snows and glaciers. The region is isolated 3 subclasses, 3 types and 20 species of plains landscapes and class 3 type, 7 high-altitude zonal geosystems, 19 geocomplexes and 37 species of mountain landscapes of the class.

Natural landscapes, mountain and river systems in the East Kazakhstan are joined by the main water artery Irtysh River. The length of the Irtysh River is 4248 km, which is longer than the largest Siberian river Yenisei and Ob. The catchment area of the Irtysh is more than the Volga River and covers an area of 1,595,680 km2. East Kazakhstan is a major area of the Irtysh river basin with flow modulating of 3.8 - 5.6 liters / sec from 1sq. km per year. Water losses on evaporation from water surfaces in the East Kazakhstan are insignificant in comparison with other regions of the Irtysh River Basin. The hydrological regime is subject to rapid changes and is different from the natural, which is associated with regulation of river flow in the territory of Eastern Kazakhstan in three reservoirs. The main purpose of water reservoirs is energy. The nature of the natural flow of the Irtysh River basin is mainly under the influence of melting snow and glaciers. River East Kazakhstan belongs to the basin of the Arctic Ocean and Inland drainage basin of Lake Balkhash - Alakol. East Kazakhstan region has a fairly dense network of rivers and lakes and it is rich with underground water. Its mountain ranges are the centers of the Southern Altay glaciating. Water is closely linked to climate and other natural components and has a direct impact on them. The valley of the Irtysh intersects region from the south-east to the north-west. On the right bank of the Irtysh mountain landscapes are characterized by predominance of forest, herb-grass species, and abounding in great density of river network. Rivers are characterized by significant deviations (40-50 m by 100 m and more), high-velocity flow (2.5 m / s).

All the rivers in the area are mostly snow fed. Water in the rivers during floods is little mineralized, in low water salinity increases. According to the chemical composition the water is mainly hydro-carbonate-calcium during the year and is suitable for all types of domestic and agricultural water supply, irrigation of fields and technical needs.

East Kazakhstan has significant groundwater resources of good quality. There are outcrops of thermal water (radon sources) with a water temperature of 43 degrees, plus 23-24 degrees. (Near the Rakhmanov lake and the Zaysan hollow). Within the Kazakhstan Altay region there are more than 350 glaciers with a total area of 99.1 square kilometers.

Flora and fauna of the East Kazakhstan region is known for its richness in rare species due to a large variety of natural conditions. The region has preserved relics of the Tertiary period - turangа pegs, and Priirtyshsk Kaindinsky pine forests, fir grove Sinegorsk.

With very limited forests in Kazakhstan, which constitute only 4% of the total area of the country, the East-Kazakhstan region takes a special place in the forest and hunting resources. It contains almost 70% of the forests of the Republic. Most of the forests are classified as mountain forests and have a soil, climate and water protection value.

Knowledge and study of regional features of natural areas is one of the components for a successful and effective management of natural resources and environmental management in the region, reducing the risks to human health, agricultural development and the adverse environmental factors. The East Kazakhstan region (as it was shown above) has a great natural potential for developing renewable energy sources, primarily wind, solar and hydropower. When analyzing and assessing the ecological state of the territory of East Kazakhstan region, the development of regional environmental programs and strategies must be considered on the basis of the natural characteristics of the territory and the impacts on the environment.


1. Zinchenko Y.K., Zinchenko E.S. Physical geography of East Kazakhstan - Alfa-Press, Ust-Kamenogorsk, 2002.

2. The World Bank for Reconstruction and Development report, a newsletter, "Current problems in the Irtysh basin". – Semey, 2006.

3. Berkinbayev G. D., Fedorov G.V., Demchenko A.I., Belyavcev E.P. “The radon demonstration of the East Kazakhstan region”. - Collection of Scientific Works of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Almaty 2006.

4. Egorina A.V. "The East-Kazakhstan region - "The continent compressed to the limits”, East-Kazakhstan informational and analytical yearbook "Ecosphere", 2003.

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №2 - 2011

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