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The disappearing Aral Sea...

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  • The disappearing Aral Sea...

    Anyone else familiar with this?

    NUKUS, Uzbekistan – The drying up of the Aral Sea is one of the planet's most shocking environmental disasters, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday as he urged Central Asian leaders to step up efforts to solve the problem.
    Once the world's fourth-largest lake, the sea has shrunk by 90 percent since the rivers that feed it were largely diverted in a Soviet project to boost cotton production in the arid region.
    The shrunken sea has ruined the once-robust fishing economy and left fishing trawlers stranded in sandy wastelands, leaning over as if they dropped from the air. The sea's evaporation has left layers of highly salted sand, which winds can carry as far away as Scandinavia and Japan, and which plague local people with health troubles.

  • #2
    wow, look at that! it would be pretty cool if they would just put the rivers back and let it fill back up. it would have to be seeded with fish, but I bet some plants plankton and bacteria might re hydrate an recolonize the dried up sea.


    • #3
      Yep - its an amazing story of just how thoroughly we can screw up. If you have google earth on your computer, try looking it up from 'space'. Just type in 'aral sea' in the fly to box and you can clearly see the extent of the drying (the image is a bit patchy but its still pretty obvious. If you zoom out a little bit and then scroll down south of the sea you will sea a darker green area on the Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan border. Zoom in to it and check out scale of the irrigation development. Similarly to the east on one of the other feeder rivers.

      There is also a lot of interactive material if you find it interesting (ie try checking the global awareness box and exploring some of the overlays - like the 1973 image)

      PS Excuse my passion - I'm doing my PhD in satellite image interpretation and modelling of a large wetland system in Australia and the Aral sea is just such a classic example of the impacts of this sort of development.


      • #4
        heres the evolution of that sea.


        • #5
          I read about this on HuffPost, but felt it would fall on deaf ears anyway.


          • #6
            Its very emotive to see the boats standed - but the reality of these situations (and trying to 'fix' them) is hugely complex. Not only the feasibility of undaming a river and whether or not the ecosystem will actually bounce back (I'm sure it would, but perhaps not in our lifetimes). If you do look at the irrigation infrastructure that has been created, and then start to think about how many people now rely on that for their livelihood - what do you do to keep them employed if you did take away the water? The Aral Sea also has about four countries (I think) criss-crossing the catchment so getting agreement on any action is very difficult.