The Shrinking Aral Sea

Another image showing the ecological destruction of the Aral Sea.

Aral Sea 2000-2008

From EO Newsroom:

This natural-color satellite image shows the Aral Sea on August 16, 2008. The colored contour lines show the approximate shorelines of the sea since 2000. The image is from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The contour lines are based on MODIS data from both the Aqua and Terra satellites. The image documents the progress of a conservation plan to stabilize the North Aral Sea, and the continued decline of the South Aral Sea. Deeper, clearer waters are darker blue; shallower, murkier waters are greenish.

A dam separates the northern and southern parts of the sea, allowing the flow of the Syrdar’y to recharge the North Aral Sea. Meanwhile, the South Aral Sea continues to dry out. The lake has split into eastern and western lobes, with the eastern lobe drying more rapidly. The lakebed is lined with pale, salty sediment, which is kicked up during dust storms. The lakebed sediments also contain agricultural chemical residues and other pollutants, which have contributed to widespread public health problems.

The transformation of the lake into dry land changed the regional climate. Previously, the large lake helped to stabilize the area’s continental climate. Continental climates exhibit large seasonal extremes in temperature. Compared to locations at the same latitude, places with continental climates have hotter summers and colder winters; they are also drier. As the Aral Sea has disappeared, summers have become even hotter, winters have become colder and longer, and the dry climate has become drier.

7 thoughts on “The Shrinking Aral Sea”

  1. Great graphic, Garry. It would be nice if you could add 1990 and 1980 lines (isobars?) showing the retreat. Alternatively you could add your 9/10/07 map image for effect.

  2. This is such a tragic event- too bad the dam was so well made (could the hands of time be turned back). Thank you for this updated visual!

  3. In alte parti unii au prea multa apa si nu stiu cum sa mai scape de ea iar in in situatia prezentata asistam la o situatie foarte trista. Numai in cazul in care ar fi sistate irigatiile sau daca ar sari in ajutor mai multe tari (care sa trimita utilaje si echipe de lucru) si s-ar lucra intr-un ritm nebunesc astfel incat apa mai multor rauri sa fie captata astfel incat fluviile Amu Daya si Sar Darya sa primeasca mai multi afluenti si sa aiba un debit mai mare, poate ca s-ar mai putea vorbi despre o minune. La toate acestea ar trebui sa intervina – in tandem – si provocarea in mod repetat a ploilor artificiale. Ar fi nevoie de foarte-foarte multi bani, sistem politienesc (pentru a fi evitata deturnarea de fonduri, furturi de materiale,executarea cat mai rapida a lucrarilor ameliorative etc.), multa forta de munca si utilaje cat mai performante.

  4. Hello.
    I`m in master`s course at Konkuk Univ. in Korea.
    Actually, I ask you using the image aboved as a reference to publish a book in Korea.
    The author is Dr. Lee worked in Geography department at Konkuk Univ.
    The book`s subject is ‘Climatology’.
    I`ll wait your message.
    Thank you very much.
    best regards.

  5. The sea is currently close to a balance because its surface has shrunk so much that evaporation has gone down too, so that even the insignificant river and underground water flow balance the sea.

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