Sarykamysh Lake: Collector of drainage water - The past, the present, and the future

Leah Orlovsky, Offir Matsrafi, Nikolai Orlovsky, Michael Kouznetsov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Sarykamysh is one of about 2,500 artificial lakes-collectors of drainage water in Central Asia. The Lake is located in a natural depression in the northwestern part of Turkmenistan, it receives irrigation surpluses and soil washing drainage water from Dashoguz and Khoresm oases. The area of the Lake has grown from 12 km2in 1962 to 3,955 km2in 2006. In terms of volume the change is from 0.6 km3to 68.56 km3, respectively. Currently, the national plan is to create a new lake-accumulator in the Karashor depression - the Golden Age Lake. Nowadays, less water is being discharged into the Lake, and in the future its area/level will decrease significantly. With average annual evaporation rates of 1.2-1.4 m/year, the drying process is expected to be rapid. The study attempts to model the possible scenarios in the development of the Lake following a change of inflow. This research deals with the retrospective study of the parameters of the lake in the past 40 years using GIS and remote sensing methods in order to suggest a forecast of these parameters. The forecasted parameters will enable the mitigation of the negative regional impacts of the Lake’s changes. A three-dimensional model of the Sarykamysh depression was built using the 1940s topographic maps. Topex/ Poseidon altimeter data, early Corona satellite images, and time-series of the Landsat satellite images were applied on Digital Elevation Model (DEM) together with ground measurements of the parameters of the Lake and meteorological data. The model was calibrated and validated, and the water balance of the Lake was calculated, enabling us to suggest with higher accuracy, an optimal future inflow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-140
Number of pages34
JournalHandbook of Environmental Chemistry
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Aral
  • Central Asia
  • Forecast
  • Model
  • Remote sensing
  • Turkmenistan
  • Water balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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