“Ulytau-Aral” expedition

The “Ulytau-Aral” research expedition took place from June 15 to June 25, 2016.

One goal of the expedition is water sampling of the Aral Sea for further hydro-biological research. Besides the northern Aral, which is now recovering, we will also explore the part of the reservoir, which is now experiencing a strong environmental catastrophe.

Another goal of the expedition is to develop a new tourist route along the currently available roads. Ulytau is located in close proximity to the “Western Europe – Western China” road which is being constructed now at the state level, this road in the future will make it easier to get to the tourist sites in the region.

The expedition team will explore the southern part of the Ulytau region, which is historically significant, yet least explored in terms of tourist potential and almost not involved in the tourist routes, offered by tourist companies in Kazakhstan.

One of the results of the expedition will be a developed tourist route connecting the central part of the country (Astana) via the Ulytau region with the Aral region and a practical pocket-size tourist guide for Ulytau.

The expedition route is as follows: Astana – Zhezkazgan – Baikonur – Koskol – Saksaul – Aralsk – Karateren – Aral-Assar settlement and Kerderi mausoleum – Barsakelmes Reserve – Kaskakulan – Yangikent settlement – Kazalinsk – Baikonur Cosmodrome – Korkyt-Ata – Zhusaly – Kalmakkyrgan valley – Zhezkazgan – Astana. The total length of the route from Astana and back is about 4500 km.

Field work

In June of this year the research team of the professor of Nazarbayev University Jay Sign in cooperation with “Ulytau-Aral” expedition team went to the Aral Sea for a field work.

In order to investigate the problems of using an integrated monitoring of remote sensing data, the head of the research team Jay Sagin chose a project area – the Aral Sea region, predominantly the territory of Aral district in Kyzylorda region as a reference site for a study of desertification processes.

In this regard, the field work initiated by Jay Sagin became a part of “Ulytau-Aral” expedition, organized by PA “Kazakh National Geographic Society» (QazaqGeo) in June of this year.

The main task of the research group was to measure the coordinates of control (reference) points for further georeferencing of space images. Simultaneously, the observational works over desertification and land degradation processes were conducted.


Figure. A schematic location of ground control points

The main task of surveying ground control points made, received 29 points in the study area.

Through using a high-precision equipment the GPS-coordinates of long term objects were measured and in the future by using the images of satellite monitores the advances of deserts in the region will be constructed.

As for coordinate measuring equipment was dual-frequency GPS Leica Zeno 20, which has been proposed by Leica representative in Kazakhstan:

– With Zeno 20’s straightforward and intuitive design;

– Multiple feature sharing the same location can be measured with one observation;

– Map interaction using the Zeno Mobile is as simple and intuitive as using a smart phone;

– The out-of-the-box experience lets you flexibly start your field projects collecting the data you need;

– Manage and improve your data quality. As accurate as you need it – from meter to centimeter;

– One-click access to professional, high-quality imagery with the embedded Hexagon Imagery Program;

– Zeno Mobile is backed up by Zeno Office and works with a wide selection of GIS systems, supported data collection workflows;

All field work data can be download here https://cloud.mail.ru/public/3XXe/ovCiJNzek

Interactive web map  http://aral.drinu.org

You can download the measured Ground Control Points of Aral Sea region GCPs_Aral.pdf

Article Aral Sea region desertification study

Presentation Collecting GCP in the Aral Sea Region through using GPS / Aral Sea region desertification process


This research was funded under the target program №0115РК03041 “Research and development in the fields of energy efficiency and energy saving, renewable energy sources and environmental protection for years 2014-2016” from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan