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The changing water cycle: Burabay National Nature Park, Northern Kazakhstan

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Water resources in Central Asia are scarce, so complicated issues arise from this. Kazakhstan is a Central Asian landlocked country, which has mostly closed drainage basins, characterized by endorheic lakes that do not drain to the oceans. These endorheic lakes are very sensitive to climate change and anthropogenic influences. Very few studies have been conducted on the hydrological cycle of the small endorheic lakes. This work reviews the endorheic lakes within Burabay National Nature Park (BNNP), Northern Kazakhstan. BNNP is a small ecozone consisting of terminal lakes watersheds covered by mixed forests and grasslands. These endorheic lakes have been drying out during the last one hundred years or so with the water level decrease accelerated in the past few decades. According to historical observations (1935–2014), on the one hand precipitation amounts did not significantly change, while on the other hand, air temperature steadily increased. The lake level decrease is most probably caused by a water budget deficit, with evaporation exceeding the precipitation inputs in the long term. The direct anthropogenic impact (water abstraction) plays a minor role in the deterioration of water levels, with most significant impacts through localized land‐use changes such as road and building construction in the catchments. The future of the park's sensitive ecosystems in a changing climate is uncertain; therefore, BNNP requires modern ecohydrological monitoring methods and analysis tools to improve our understanding of its hydrological cycle variability, and to enable us to develop adequate adaptation and mitigation measures. WIREs Water 2017, 4:e1227. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1227

The reconstructed long‐term lake levels for main lakes of Burabay National Nature Park: (a) Shortandy (red line), (b) Burabay (blue line), Ulken Shabakty (green line), Kishi Shabakty (black line), Maybalyk (brown dash‐dotted line). For sources of data and additional information, see Table .
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Lake water levels 2008–2015: Shortandy Lake (brown), Burabay Lake (blue), Ulken Shabakty (green). Zero datum level (msl, Baltic reference): Shortandy Lake—380.04 m; Burbabay Lake—311.23 m; Ulken Shabakty—289.5 m.
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Long‐term annual precipitation (blue line) (a) with 3‐year moving average (red dotted line), mean 336 mm (black line); and mean yearly air temperature (b) both at Shuchinsk Weather Station, 1935–2014.
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The seasonal cycle of precipitation (a) and temperature (b), at Shuchinsk weather station (most southern station in Figure ), for the period 1935–2014.
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Burabay National Nature Park location and main lake drainage basins: 1, Kishi Shabakty (Maloe Chebachie); 2, Ulken Shabakty (Bolshoe Chebachie); 3, Burabay (Borovoe); 4, Shortandy (Shuchie); 5, Tekekol; 6, Maybalyk. Former names of the lakes are given inside parentheses. Also indicated are the three main weather stations in the area (red stars), Shuchinsk town and Burabay settlement.
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Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems
Engineering Water > Planning Water

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