Satellite images show the changing water levels in the Aral Sea from to Timeline of shrinking In the early s,  the Soviet government decided the two rivers that fed the Aral Sea, the Amu Darya in the south and the Syr Darya in the east, would be diverted to irrigate the desert, in an attempt to grow rice, melons, cereals, and cotton. This temporarily succeeded, and inUzbekistan was the world's largest exporter of cotton. Most of the sea's water supply had been diverted, and in the s, the Aral Sea began to shrink.
From ancient times it was known as an oasis. Traders, hunters, fishers, and merchants populated this fertile site littered with lagoons and shallow straits that characterised the Aral landscape. Once the fourth largest inland body of water in the world, in the past few years the Aral Sea has gained The aral sea desertification attention as one of the greatest man-made natural disasters in the world.
Now it is the eighth largest inland body of water on account of large amounts of water diverted for crop irrigation from the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers. Extreme shrinkage of the once abundant Sea has altered the climate and the livelihood of millions of people. In the days of the Cold War, the Aral Sea basin was designated by the former Soviet Union as land that would provide independence from the West.
Although the region did produce heartily for a time, the devastating effects of desertification were not anticipated by the central planners.
Now the Sea has in places retreated more than km from its original boundaries. Abandoned fishing boats and scattered marine equipment litter the dry, dusty plains previously covered with water. As water quantity diminished, salinity rose to levels toxic for fish and other wildlife.
An estimated 60, people abandoned their fishing livelihoods. Carp, bream, pike-perch, barbel, sturgeon, and many other types of commercial species of fish used to bolster profitable businesses.
Commercial fishing ceased inand soon muskrat farms and other game trades followed suit. Water had been so heavily diverted that by hardly a stream reached the Sea from either the Amudarya in the south or the Syrdarya in the north.
Due to a strong NE wind, over million tons of salty dust blows away from the Sea annually. Aerosols are carried up into the higher layers of the atmosphere and spread all over the globe; Aral region pesticides have even been found in Antarctic penguins.
The dust contains an unhealthy mixture of fertiliser and other agricultural chemicals and household waste. Salt and pesticide chemicals have seeped into groundwater and caused health disasters and further complications for agriculture.
Polluted water runs down into lowland reservoirs causing secondary salinization and making irrigation less effective. The latter exacerbates the agricultural difficulties because more water is needed to attain a healthy crop. The State Hydrometeorological Committee of Uzbekistan reported data in that the content of 6-valent chromium, copper, phenols, and sulphates reached well above the maximum allowed concentration of contaminants allowed in Russia and the former USSR.
Top Disease Perhaps the most significant factor of the Aral Sea crisis is the health of the people. Hospitalisation rates increased from 20 to 25 per persons between and Mortality rates have increased by 15 times in a ten year period, and diseases such as cardiac, vascular, gallstone, and tuberculosis have risen significantly.
The rise in child mortality has been attributed to environmental deterioration and now ranks highest in the former Soviet Union. The ecological disaster has been directly linked by medical studies to diseases of blood, cancer, asthma, and heart malfunction.
Medecins Sans Frontieres MSFa non-governmental organisation, has begun a cooperation with the governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to implement DOTS, a World Health Organisation strategy used in over countries world-wide to reduce tuberculosis.
MSF began to pilot projects in and vouches to stay committed to the Aral Sea area in order to be certain the disease is effectively combated. Top Efforts An estimated five million people have been devastated by the Aral Sea disaster.
So far the largest effort to address the issues have been conducted by the World Bank and UN with goals to stabilise the Aral Sea level, rehabilitate the region and improve its water management.A massive irrigation project has devastated the Aral Sea over the past 50 years.
These images show the decline of the Southern Aral Sea in the past decade, as well as the first steps of recovery in the Northern Aral Sea. The Aralkum Desert is a desert that has appeared since on the seabed once occupied by the Aral Sea. It lies to the south and east of what remains of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
The Aral Sea is an example of the effects of water abstractions for irrigation from the Amu Darya and the Syr-Darya, the rivers which feed the Aral Sea, to grow cotton in the desert (Chapagain ). With desertification of the area the poorly constructed system for irrigation has become a much more worrisome problem.
The Aral region.
Nov 02, · The Aral Sea, located on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan might not be dying as quickly as it once was and might even be coming back to life. Kazakhstan built a dam to divert the water of the Syr Darya river into the portion of. Fifty years after its water sources were diverted, the Aral Sea is virtually gone.
Some estimates suggest that the lake is just 10 percent of its original size.
iPad users can view more images of the Aral Sea by downloading the free NASA Visualization Explorer app. Those images are also available on the Web. of the Aral Sea: desertification, dust and salt winds, changes in regional climate, and health problems of the local population (Roll, et al., ).
Because the Aral Sea lies in a.