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Posts tagged North Aral Sea

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.

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.

The Shrinking of the Aral Sea – December 18th, 2008

December 18th, 2008 Category: Image of the day, Lakes

The shrinking of the Aral Sea - July 1st, 2006 and December 2nd, 2008

The shrinking of the Aral Sea - July 1st, 2006 and December 2nd, 2008

The Aral Sea is a landlocked endorheic basin in Central Asia; it lies between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south.

The name roughly translates as “Sea of Islands”, referring to more than 1,500 islands of one hectare or more that once dotted its waters. There are now three lakes in the Aral Basin: the North Aral Sea and the eastern and western basins of the South Aral Sea.

Once the world’s fourth-largest inland sea with an area of 68,000 km², the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s, after the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya that fed it were diverted by Soviet Union irrigation projects.

By 2004, the sea had shrunk to 25% of its original surface area, and a nearly fivefold increase in salinity had killed most of its natural flora and fauna.

By 2007 it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into three separate lakes, two of which are too salty to support fish. The once prosperous fishing industry has been virtually destroyed, causing unemployment and economic hardship.

The two side-by-side images here demonstrate how the Aral Sea has changed in the last few years. To the left is an image taken on July 1st, 2006; to the right, an image from December 2nd, 2008.  It is easy to see how much the central lake has reduced in size. On the left, it still has some algae growth, with sediments towards the southern shore, and a dark blue area of deeper waters towards the north shore. In the more recent picture, the bright green algal bloom does not appear;  rather, the water seems light blue, shallow, and full of sediments.

The Aral Sea is also heavily polluted, largely as the result of weapons testing, industrial projects, pesticides and fertilizer runoff. Wind-blown salt from the dried seabed damages crops, and polluted drinking water and salt- and dust-laden air cause serious public health problems.

The retreat of the sea has reportedly also caused local climate change, with summers becoming hotter and drier, and winters colder and longer.

source Wikipedia

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