The rapid drying of the Aral Sea
• The rapid shrinking of the Aral Sea
Aral Sea - a salt lake in Central Asia, which is on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The level and volume of water in the sea with the 1960s of the XX century is rapidly declining due to diversion of water from the main supply Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers.
Before the beginning of the shallowing of the Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world.
The Aral Sea is now gone for 100 km from its former coastline near the town of Muinak in Uzbekistan.
For thousands of years the channel Amu Darya took away from the Aral Sea (to the Caspian Sea) and thereby causing a decrease in the size of the Aral Sea. However, with the return of the river, the Aral Sea has always restored to its former borders. Currently, intensive irrigation fields of cotton and rice takes up a large part of the flow of the two rivers, which sharply reduces the flow of water into their deltas and thus into the sea itself.
In the Soviet Union, the Aral Sea deteriorating condition was kept secret for decades, until 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev made this ecological disaster public. At the end of the 1980s. the water level has fallen so much that the whole sea was divided into two parts: the northern Small Aral and the southern Large Aral.
By 2007, in the southern part of clearly recorded deep western and eastern shallow waters as well as the remains of a small separate bay. Large Aral volume decreased from 708 to just 75 km 3, and salinity of the water rose from 14 to more than 100 g / l. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Aral Sea had been divided between the newly formed countries: Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
The drying up of the Aral Sea has led to serious consequences. The sharp decrease in river flow caused the termination of spring floods, which supplied the marshes lower reaches of Amudarya and Syrdarya fresh water and fertile sediments. The number of species of fish lived here decreased from 32 to 6 - the result of increasing levels of salinity, loss of spawning and feeding grounds.
When reached 40 thousand. Tons in 1960 fishing, by the mid-1980s. local commercial fishing simply ceased to exist, and has been lost more than 60 thousand. related jobs.
Shipping on the Aral Sea has stopped due to the fact that the water receded many kilometers from the main local ports: city of Aralsk to the north and the city Muinak the south. And to maintain the navigability of the increasingly long channels to the ports proved too costly affair.
On the former coastline of hundreds of skeletons of ships.
recovery of all of the Aral Sea is impossible. This would have to quadruple the annual inflow of waters of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, compared with the current average of 13 km 3. The only possible way would be to reduce the fields of irrigation, which takes 92% of the water intake. However, four of the five former Soviet republics in the Aral Sea basin (except for Kazakhstan) intends to increase the volume of irrigation of farmland - mostly to feed a growing population.
The worst thing is that the sad fate of the Aral Sea are starting to repeat other large bodies of water of the world - most notably, Lake Chad in Central Africa and the Salton Sea Lake in the south of the US state of California.