Sunday, June 8, 2008

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Aral Sea

Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
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The name "Aral Sea" comes from the word "aral" meaning island. The sea's name reflects the fact that it is a vast basin that lies as an island among waterless deserts. The Aral Sea was once the world's fourth largest inland sea. Its problems began in the 1960s and 1970s with the diversion of the main rivers that feed it to provide for cotton cultivation in arid Soviet Central Asia. The surface of the Aral Sea once measured 66 100 km2 (25 521 square miles). By 1987, about 60 per cent of the Aral Sea's volume had been lost, its depth had declined by 14 m (45 feet), and its salt concentration had doubled, killing the commercial fishing trade. Wind storms became toxic, carrying fine grains of clay and salts deposited on exposed sea floor. Life expectancies in the districts near the sea are significantly lower than in the surrounding areas.

The sea is now a quarter of the size it was 50 years ago and has broken into two parts, the North Aral Sea and the South Aral Sea. Re-engineering along the Syr Darya River delta in the north will retain water in the North Aral Sea, thereby drying the South Aral Sea completely, perhaps within 15 years. View detailed information

1 comment:

Tomi Nurminen said...

It always hurts to see these pictures, even if you have seen then before. The pictures clearly demonstrates the ultimate incapability of human mind to maintain the balance with the nature. I don't know which kind of project this was in the beginning, but hopefully the "drying thing" wasn't in the scope.

Tomi Nurminen, Finland