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Desertificatio and the Desiccated South Aral Sea

46.7N 61.6E

April 2nd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes

Aral Sea – April 1st, 2013

While water is present in the North Aral Sea, the South Aral Sea, which lies in poorer Uzbekistan, has been largely abandoned to its fate. Only excess water from the North Aral Sea is now periodically allowed to flow into the largely dried-up South Aral Sea through a sluice in the dike.

Discussions had been held on recreating a channel between the somewhat improved North and the desiccated South, along with uncertain wetland restoration plans throughout the region, but political will is lacking. Uzbekistan shows no interest in abandoning the Amu Darya river as an abundant source of cotton irrigation, and instead is moving toward oil exploration in the drying South Aral seabed.

Attempts to mitigate the effects of desertification include planting vegetation in the newly exposed seabed; however, intermittent flooding of the eastern basin is likely to prove problematic for any development. Redirecting what little flow there is from Amu Darya to the western basin may salvage fisheries there while relieving the flooding of the eastern basin.

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