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Southern Basins of the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

45.3N 59.5E

April 9th, 2010 Category: Lakes

Kazakhstan - March 5th, 2010

Kazakhstan - March 5th, 2010

The Aral Sea, on the border of Kazakhstan (above) and Uzbekistan (below), has been shrinking since the 1960s. At 10% of its original size as of 2007, it now appears divided into three virtually separate bodies of water:  the North Aral Sea and the eastern and western basins of the once far larger South Aral Sea.

As can be observed here, by 2009, the south-eastern lake had disappeared and the south-western lake retreated to a thin strip at the extreme west of the former southern sea. Here, the basin of the south-eastern lake (right) appears greyish in color, while the thin south-western lake (left) stands out against the surrounding snow-covered landscape. Here, the lower reaches of this lake are covered in ice.

2 Responses to “Southern Basins of the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan”

  1. 1

    Aral Sea is slowly recovering. The lowest water level/surface area was registered in 2009. Ever since, the easter lobe of the southern lake has largely recovered by winter of 2011. The northern lobe is in fact overflowing with waters from the Syr Darya river, impounded by a hasty dam built to save the northern lobe. As such, water is being released from the northern lobe via the openings in the dam, into the southern basin, creating yet another lake in the vast basin of the former Aral Sea.

    While man is largely the culprit in the natural disaster, the 1994-2001 catastrophic drought in the entire Central Asia-eastern Middle East, played a major role in the drying up of the Aral Sea. The rains/snow has returned to the area, allowing the two major rivers feeding the Aral Sea to begin filling up the basin once again. Let us keep our fingers crossed!!

  2. 2

    This process of the refilling of the Aral See can be clearly seen in the sequence of the satellite photos posted here, covering 2009 through winter of 2011.

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