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Desertification, Water Loss and Temperature Changes in the Aral Sea – June 9th, 2013

45.2N 59.8E

June 9th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes MODISAqua

Aral Sea – June 9th, 2013

The primary effect of the Aral Sea desiccation has been the significant loss of water in the sea. The water level has dropped approximately 23 meters since the onset of its primary sources of water being diverted. Although the water level has fluctuated up to a few meters in the past due to natural variability in the water flow from the rivers, by 1970, the water loss exceeded the limit of natural water level variation that has occurred in the past.

The desiccation of the Aral Sea has been accompanied by the change in the Sea Surface Temperature. We see that the summer SSTs have been increasing, while winter SSTs have been decreasing. This is expected because as the sea loses volume, its heat capacity is reduced, therefore it can warm up and cool off faster than before. The day to night variations in SSTs, which are responsible for the sea breezes, have also increased.

In a sense, Aral sea has started to exhibit a monsoon climate, which is characterized by seasonal climate change due to warming and cooling of the sea. The desiccation period was also characterized by less ice covering of the sea. This can be explained by the fact that increased salt concentration lowers the freezing point of water; therefore the temperature would now need to be lower for the water to turn into ice (click here for more information).

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