The Aral Sea

The Aral Sea

The Aral Sea
by Shawni Hedberg-Sola

Volume 1, Issue 1 8 Jun 2011 The Aral (Turkish for island) Sea is located in Central Asia between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Positioned between the Black Desert and Red Desert, the Aral Sea was once the fourth largest inland sea in the world fed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. This flourishing body of water spanned over 25,000 square miles providing fish and wildlife a sustaining ecosystem. Surrounding villages thrived comfortably from the economy of fishery and beach holi- Fishing on the Aral. Fishing was big business and brought in over 50,000 tons of fish per year. (Courtesy day resorts, but between 1960 and 1970 the 53 meter O. Dosanov/Orient Express Central Asia) Inside this issue: (174 feet) sea level would slowly decrease over the next fifty Aral Sea Level 2 years leaving only a baron, flat sea bottom exposed. Devastation would Ecological Deterioration 3 succumb the ecology, climate, econoClimatic Changes 4 my, and health of this once prosperous Asian community due to environEconomic Decline 5 mental degradation and human acVillage Health 6 tivities. Restoration efforts eventually began to raise the sea level, but Restoration Efforts 7 the catastrophic human affects were Authors Comments 8 irreversible and continue.

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The Aral Sea

Satellite and Map Views of the Aral Sea

Satellite view and map of Aral Sea. From 1976 to 1997, the sea level decreased by 50% following by another 25% from 1997 to 2007 (above). (Courtesy of World Bank). Map of Kazakhstan which includes the Areal Sea (below). (Courtesy of World Bank)

Volume 1, Issue 1

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Ecological Deterioration
Between 1960 and 1970, water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya was diverted from the Aral Sea to the Kara Kum Canal. This water was used to irrigate cotton and rice export crops. As desertification and salinity levels increased over the years, the sea level decreased. With continued high-focus on irrigating exSea floor....

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