here for a map
of Central Asia. Note the countries of Central Asia and the location
of the Aral Sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Note also the
location of the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya Rivers. The five countries
that had been republics in the Soviet Union and gained independence with
the fall of the USSR are: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan
were repressed under the Soviet regime. One of the situations inflicted
upon them was the dictation of economic pursuits. Although Uzbekistan
is now one of the world's top producers of cotton, it comes at a very high
Sea is a terminal lake located in Central Asia. In the 1960s it was
the fourth largest lake in the world. Soviet
agricultural leaders planned to cultivate Central Asia as the USSR's
main cotton producer. Water from the main rivers draining into the
Aral Sea, the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya Rivers, was diverted for vast irrigation
projects. By the 1990s, however, mismanagement of resources, a poor
understanding of the fragile ecosystem, and general, extreme waste and
abuse rendered the area a wasteland in places. The Aral Sea itself
has shrunk to less than half its former size and volume, and the Karakalpak
Region at the delta of the Amu Dar'ya has been declared an ecological disaster
Uzbek Sand Fleet
Actually, the rapidity of the desiccation of the Aral Sea left ships stranded
in sand dunes, sometimes hundreds of kilometers from water.
"cliff" is actually the former shore of the Aral Sea.
in the Aral Sea in area has had a pronounced effect on the overall local
ecosystems. One of the many serious and urgent problems associated
with the environmental issues affecting the Aral Sea pertains to the phenomenon
of salt and sand that are blown away from the exposed lake floor.
As the Aral Sea shrinks and exposes more of its floor, the unconsolidated
sediment is redistributed by aeolian
processes. Dr. Philip Micklin, an expert on the Aral Sea crisis,
estimates that total loss ranges from 40 x 106 tons to 150 x
106 tons per year. Aral Sea sand has been found as far
away as 500 km from its area of origin.
Aral Sea, 1988
Aral Sea, 1960 and 1992
...animation by U of Texas
Sea satellite image, 1993
result of the widespread distribution of these deposits causes a wide range
of environmental problems. Salt
mixed with wind-deposited sediment has a deleterious effect on crops and
salinizes the soil. The concentration of sand and toxins, such as
herbicides, increases as the Aral dries up. As the water recedes,
it leaves this chemical and salt residue on the sand in increasingly heavy
concentrations. The problem is not just a matter of a fixed amount
of contamination that can be quantifiably associated with a certain volume
of sand; rather, the degree of contamination is magnified as the sea shrinks.
mobility of toxic sand poses a severe risk to plants and animals.
health conditions that have been linked
to Aral Sea sand include the inhalation of sand, resulting in chronic
respiratory problems, digestive tract disorders, and cancer.
In addition to the problems believed to be associated with issues of the
Aral Sea, the region is plagued by poverty, poor health, inadequate living
conditions, and other problems linked to third world communities.
PRESIDENT CRITICIZES KARAKALPAK OFFICIALS
sources: Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty
21 July 1997
Karimov visited the Karakalpak Autonomous Republic in Uzbekistan on 17
July, Interfax reported. Karimov told an extraordinary session of the local
parliament that the region's leadership is responsible for a "gigantic
cash deficit." Karimov pointed out that gross income in Karakalpak fell
by 16 percent and agricultural output by 22 percent during the past three
that targets for cotton and rice production have not been met. Karakalpak
parliamentary speaker Ubaniez Ashirbekov was sacked and replaced by an
official recommended by Karimov. Karakalpakia is likely the poorest region
in Uzbekistan and suffers considerably from the ecological effects of the
shrinking Aral Sea.
pressure to produce worsens Karakalpak's plight (Karakalpakstan is the
NW region in Uzbekistan; most affected by the ecological disaster).
SENSING OF THE ARAL SEA AREA
ARAL SEA INTERACTIVE MAP
SEA LANDSAT MSS COMPARISON: 1973 & 1987
present size of the Aral Sea compared with the previous shore line (yellow
line). Resurs-O1 satellite image. (Resurs -01is an Russian environmental
SEA ARGON AND LANDSAT 5 COMPARISON: 1964 & 1987
SEA SHORELINE: SPOT
10 Channel 2- former shoreline 25/10/94
10 Channel 3 - 1-3/08/1 True-color composition from NOAA 12 and NOAA 14
AVHRR Channel 3 data using images
at different times of a day.
14: Ice in the Aral Sea
IMAGE (AND TEXT)
image - also info on both Resurs-01 and the split of the Aral Sea
FROM THE SPACE STATION MIR
ASSORTMENT OF IMAGES AND PHOTOGRAPHS
in reading more about Central Asia and the Aral Sea?
Philip Micklin: Desiccation of the Aral Sea - A Water Management Disaster
in the Soviet Union
GIS of the Aral Sea
Encarta Virtual Globe: Aral Sea
The Aral Sea Homepage
University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Policy
The Amicus Journal: Sea Change - Ten Years after glasnost, hope is drying
up for the Aral Sea
Medicine without Borders
Mike Thurman's Chronology of the Aral Sea Problem
Links to more LINKS