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THE EVIL THAT MEN DO

Posted by feww on November 18, 2010

Bleeding Heart!

How to Turn the World’s Fourth Largest Lake into a Desert


The Bleeding Heart of Central Asia! The vast salt plain that encompasses what was once the Aral Sea is now called the Aralkum Desert.
Image Source: ESA. Click image to enlarge. Download HI-RES (JPEG 818 kb)

Original caption: This Landsat image features the heart-shaped northern tip of the western half of the Large Aral Sea (or South Aral Sea) in Central Asia. The whitish area surrounding the lakebed is a vast salt plain, now called the Aralkum Desert, left behind by the evaporating sea. The Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5, jointly managed by NASA and the US Geological Survey, acquired this image on 24 July 2010. ESA supports the Landsat series as a Third Party Mission, meaning it uses its ground infrastructure and expertise to acquire, process and distribute Landsat data to users.


Map of Aral Sea. Source: World Bank.

Once described as the world’s fourth largest lake, fed by two major rivers of Amu Darya in the south, and the Syr Darya in the north,  Aral Sea spanned an area of about  70,000 km² with a total volume of more than 1 trillion cubic meters  (1,000 cubic km) in 1960. The bountiful sea provided annual catches of about 50,000 tons without fail.  The scenic deltas of its major tributaries, dotted with dozens of smaller lakes, were rich wetlands and marshes teeming with life, covering an area larger than half a million hectares.

The Aral Sea has been shrinking steadily since 1960, as water was diverted for irrigation. It reduced to a pond measuring about 8% of its original size in 2007, and split into three lakes: North Aral Sea, and the two heavily shrunk eastern and western basins of the South Aral Sea.

The south-eastern lake completely disappeared last year, leaving behind the south-western lake, now a thin strip of shallow water. (See image).


Aral Sea captured by MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite –  true-color image dated March 26, 2010. A plume of dust blows from the sediments of the South Aral Sea toward the southeast, along the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan border. Northeast of the plume, two red outlines indicate hotspots associated with fires.The lakebed sediments, prone to forming dust plumes, have become a repository for salt, fertilizers, and pesticides and pose a threat to human health in the region. Source: Nasa/Modis website.


Two images of Aral Sea. L: 2008. R:1989.  Source: Nasa


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 MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The contour lines are based on MODIS data. 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. Source: NASA

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