The Shrinking of the Aral Sea Facts

The Shrinking of the Aral Sea Facts
The Aral Sea is a saline lake located in Central Asia that was once the world's fourth largest salt lake. In the 1960s the Aral Sea, which was the drainage basin for Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan, began to shrink as the Soviet Union began to divert water for agricultural purposes. The Aral Sea, which was once 26,300 square miles in size had decreased in size by 2007 to only 10% of its original area. The fishing industry in the Aral Sea was subsequently destroyed, and heavy pollution has taken over. The shrinking of the Aral Sea is now known around the world as "one of the planet's worst environmental disasters".
Interesting The Shrinking of the Aral Sea Facts:
The Aral Sea is believed to have formed approximately 5.5 million years ago when the sea level fell and mountains emerged.
It is believed that the original inhabitants of the land around the Aral Sea were desert nomads.
Russians have been present on the Aral Sea since the mod-1800s when they founded a Navy base.
In the 1960s the Soviets determined that the two main rivers that drained into the Aral Sea - the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya - should be diverted to irrigate the desert. The Soviet government believed that cotton, cereals, rice, and melons were more important to the economy than the Aral Sea'
Between 1960 and 2000 the amount of water being diverted from the Aral Sea doubled. Cotton production also doubled.
As the size of the Aral Sea decreased the salinity of the water increased, from 10 g/l to 45 g/l between 1960 and 1998.
As the Aral Sea shrunk it split into the North Aral Sea and the South Aral Sea.
Much of the water diverted from the Aral Sea is actually wasted and absorbed into the desert where it provides no benefit.
Only one fifth of the water in the Aral Sea comes from rainfall. It relied on the two rivers (Syr Darya and Amu Darya) to provide water. Once the rivers were diverted the Aral Sea could not sustain itself by rainfall alone.
The impact on the environment, public health, and on the economy due to the shrinking of the Aral Sea has included destroyed ecosystems, toxic chemical plains, toxic dust, lack of water, health issues, lost incomes due to the loss of the fishing industry and trapping industry, hotter summers and colder winters, and destroyed river deltas.
The impact on public health in the region of the Aral Sea includes increases in kidney and liver problems, eye issues, high cancer rates, high lung disease rates, drug resistant tuberculosis, anemia, digestive issues, and an increase in infectious diseases.
Prior to the shrinking of the Aral Sea trappers were able to obtain half a million muskrat pelts each year. This industry has been destroyed.
The fishing industry in the Aral Sea provided roughly 40,000 jobs. It also supplied the Soviet's with one-sixth of their fish supply. Today the fishing towns are merely ship graveyards, as many ships can be seen on the dried up sea bed.


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