Earth Snapshot RSS Feed Twitter

Posts tagged Amu Darya River

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.

Amu Darya River Flowing Towards Aral Sea – August 24th, 2011

46.7N 61.6E

August 24th, 2011 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers, Salt Flats

Aral Sea - July 26th, 2011

Once the fourth largest inland water body on earth in terms of surface area, at 26,000 square miles (67,300 square kilometers), the Aral Sea  shrank to hold just one-tenth of its original volume, becoming a tragic shadow of itself.

Here, the remains of the sea can be observed at the upper left, now separated into three basins. These basins, the shallowest of which appears lime green, are surrounded by desert and salt flats where the waters receded.

The sea shrank because it was drained by the Soviet government  to feed thirsty cotton fields planted in the inhospitable landscape surrounding it. As one can see here, a large area of desert is located south and southeast of the lake.

Crossing this arid area is the Amu Darya River. In the past, it twisted north through 1,500 miles of harsh steppe before fanning into a delta at the south end of the Aral Sea. However, the 1960s, reports National Geographic, the Soviet Union built huge farms in the perennially arid steppe, digging long canals to water them.

By 1965, the Amu Darya stretched across seven million acres (three million hectares) of wheat and cotton, two of the planet’s thirstiest crops. The river’s flow fell drastically, from 28,000 cubic feet per second (793 cubic meters) to just 5,500 cubic feet (156 cubic meters). Eventually, the Amu Darya receded from the Aral, and it now ends at a dam, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) away.



Partially Frozen Southern Basins of Aral Sea – January 17th, 2011

44.4N 58.8E

January 17th, 2011 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Salt Flats

Aral Sea - December 27th, 2010

The Aral Sea appears partially frozen in this image of Kazakhstan (upper half of image) and Uzbekistan (lower half). The southwestern basin appears to have a greater coating of ice, while than in the southeastern basin shows less.

Visible south of the basins are various channels of the Amu Darya River. In the full image, Sarygamysh Lake can be seen west of the river as well. The white area west of the channels in the image thumbnail is a salt flat, rather than another frozen lake.

Amu Darya River Between Aral Sea and Sarygamysh Lake – January 12th, 2011

42.8N 59.1E

January 12th, 2011 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - December 25th, 2010

This image focuses on the part of the Amu Darya River closest to the Aral Sea (above) and near Sarygamysh Lake (left). About 1,385,045 square kilometres (534,769 sq mi) of land is drained by the Amu Darya into the Aral Sea endorheic basin.

This includes most of Tajikistan, the southwest corner of Kyrgyzstan, the northeast corner of Afghanistan, a long narrow portion of western Turkmenistan and about half of Uzbekistan.

Caspian Sea and Nearby Bodies of Water

42.0N 57.3E

December 29th, 2010 Category: Lakes, Mountains, Rivers

Iran - December 22nd, 2010

Several differently colored bodies of water can be noted in this image of Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (from bottom to top). At the upper right, Sarygamysh Lake appears dark blue. It is situated near the Amu Darya River.

The largest body of water is the Caspian Sea, on the left side of the image. Some sediments can be observed along the southeastern shores, and Karabogas Bay, just north of those sediments, appears a lighter shade of blue. The southern shoreline is framed by the the Alborz Mountains of Iran.