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Climate of Kazakh small hills.

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“The climate is continental with sharply increasing aridity towards the south. Average temperatures in January are from - 14 to - 18 °C, in July 20 - 24 °C. In winter, frosts reach -40 °C, and in summer daytime temperatures rise to 35 °C or more (in the south). Annual precipitation is 200 - 300 mm (up to 370 mm in the northern mountain ranges). The snow cover is thin. Droughts are common in summer.”

N. A. Gvozdetsky.

Photo tours in mountains of Central Kazakh.

Most of the Kazakh hillocks are located in the semi-desert zone, and the northern, smaller part is in the desert zone. The northern part of the Kazakh small hills in its climate belongs to the West Siberian Lowland in the same way as almost the entire Turgai Plain.
The southern part of the small hills is climatically characterized by great similarity with the climate of the Turan Lowland. The island mountains - Ulutau, Karkaraly, Chingiz-Tau and others are distinguished by altitudinal climatic zonation. During the year, the territory is dominated by air of temperate latitudes (polar air).
This air borders on arctic in the north, and tropical in the south. The arctic and polar fronts separating these air masses move, and the territory of the small hills may be exposed to invading masses of cold arctic air, and from the south - warm tropical air.
This causes frequent and rapid weather changes - a typical feature of the mid-latitude climate. The predominance of one or another type of weather in certain seasons of the year determines the nature of the climate of the territory. The climate of the Kazakh small hills is sharply continental, insufficiently humid and dry, with moderately severe winters with little snow, warm and hot summers.
With the territory extending from north to south, reaching 10°, the climatic conditions of its northern and southern regions differ significantly. These differences are enhanced by the fact that through the central part of the Kazakh hillocks, approximately 50° N. sh., passes an axis of high pressure, which is most clearly expressed in winter.
The complete dominance of continental air of temperate latitudes throughout the year is associated with the great remoteness of the territory from the oceans of the small hills, which are characterized not only by large amplitudes of daily and annual air temperatures, cold winters and hot summers, but also by large amounts of precipitation.
The total radiation within the Kazakh small hills varies from 110 to 140 kcal/cm2 per year. Due to the inland location and the resulting low cloudiness, the number of hours of sunshine here is large (2000 - 3000) and most of the solar energy comes in the form of direct radiation.
But this is also associated with large effective radiation, so the radiation balance is 37 - 43 kcal/cm2 per year, and the amplitudes of daily temperatures are very large, especially in summer. Continental air masses of temperate latitudes dominate here throughout the year. In addition to them, arctic and continental tropical air arrives, as well as transformed Atlantic air in rare cyclones coming from the west.
The low moisture content of air masses and the predominance of anticyclonic weather cause a small annual amount of precipitation, varying from 400 - 450 mm in the northern and mountainous regions to 200 - 250 mm in the Balkhash region.
The coldest month is January. The average January temperature is from -16 to -190, absolute minimums are up to -450. The warmest month is July. The average July temperature is 220, absolute maximums reach 450. Annual precipitation is about 250 mm.
The greatest amount of precipitation falls in summer. Thus, in the Karkaralinsk region, about half of the annual precipitation falls in summer - 132 mm, and in winter only 10% of annual precipitation - 31 mm. The mountain ranges within the small hills receive more precipitation compared to the surrounding areas - about 300mm.
Annual rainfall can fluctuate wildly. In some years, about half of the annual precipitation falls. Frequent winds of significant speed (5 - 6 m/sec) increase evaporation, and evaporation from the water surface reaches 2000 mm per year. The greatest cloudiness occurs in winter (December), and the least cloudiness in summer (August). Average annual cloudiness is approximately 50%.
The highest relative humidity occurs in winter, in January it reaches 835, and the lowest in summer is in July, about 35%. In winter, the area is under the influence of a spur of high pressure extending from the Asian High. To the north and south of it, the pressure decreases, so in the northern part of the country southwestern and southern winds predominate, and in the southern part, northeastern and northern winds prevail.
Anticyclonic conditions contribute to the cooling of the area. Average January temperatures vary from -18 in the north to -14C in the south, which is 8 - 10 degrees below the average latitude. On some days the temperature drops to -42 - 45C, and in the northeast to -49C.
With heat advection from the south and southwest during the passage of cyclones, the temperature rises to +5 - 7C. In winter, about 20-30% of the annual precipitation falls, so the thickness of the snow cover averages 20 - 25 cm in the north and about 15 cm in the south.
The distribution of snow cover is greatly influenced by strong winds and thaws. Strong winds are accompanied by blizzards; during the winter there are 40 - 60 days with blizzards. Winter thaws do not lead to snow melting, but significantly compact it.
Ice crusts form on the surface and become covered with freshly fallen snow. The small thickness of the snow cover, its uneven occurrence, and low air temperatures contribute to seasonal freezing of soils on average to a depth of 90 - 140 cm in the north and 50 - 60 cm in the south.
Spring is short and friendly. This is favored by a thin snow cover, the melting of which does not require a large amount of heat. The exposed soil quickly heats up, and the ground layer of air also heats up. The increase in air temperatures occurs very quickly, and the duration of spring is often about two weeks.
Frosts are common. Vegetation in the spring is provided with moisture in depressions of the relief, since snow compacted by thaws and winds melts more slowly in them; In the spring it rains, air temperatures are relatively low, and evaporation is not yet great.
In spring, extremely friendly rapid growth and flowering of ephemerals is observed. In summer, the surface becomes very warm. Partly cloudy or clear weather without precipitation prevails. Average July temperatures vary from + 19 – 200 to + 20 – 260 C.
In mountain ranges, a decrease in temperature with height is observed. In the south, July temperatures are 5 to 60 degrees above mid-latitude. The absolute maximum temperature reaches + 40 - 42 C. Summer precipitation is associated mainly with the origin of cyclones along the frontal zone separating the continental air of temperate latitudes and Central Asian (Turanian) tropical air.
Maximum precipitation falls in the northern part in June, and in the southern part in May. Summer rains have the character of downpours, and therefore poorly moisten the soil. In summer, the frequency of dry weather is high, which on average ranges from 25 - 30% in the north to 75 - 80% in the south.
Most often, droughts are associated with the invasion of Arctic air in anticyclones. In summer, northern winds predominate. They are dry and increase evaporation. With strong winds, dust storms and haze occur due to the significant content of dust in the air.
Autumn is a more extended period than spring; The decrease in temperatures occurs more slowly than their increase in spring. In autumn, just like in spring, the meridional circulation of air masses intensifies. The invading Arctic air creates anticyclonic conditions with clear, calm weather and low temperatures at night.

N. A. Gvozdetsky, N. I. Mikhailov “Physical Geography of the USSR”, Asian part, Third edition, corrected and expanded, Moscow “Thought” 1978.

Photos by:
Alexander Petrov.