Effects of Shrinking Aral Sea

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Scheme of Presentation 
Location and Size of Aral Sea  Aral Sea Basin  Desiccation Process  Causes of Desiccation  Effects of Aral Sea Disaster  Efforts / Planned Projects to Solve the Problem  Measures to Save Aral Sea (Way Forward)

Aral Sea
Aktobe Kyzlorda


Lies between Kazakhstan (Aktobe and Kyzlorda provinces) in the North and Krakalpakstan, in the South

500 islands that once dotted its waters. Syr and Amu Darya are its sources of water . referring to more than 1.Aral Sea Aral Sea Syr Darya Amu Darya Aral Sea translates into "Sea of Islands".

Aral Sea In 1960 Aral Sea was one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68. Average depth 16.000 sq km.1 M and Maximum depth 68 M .

Aral Sea Basin  Basis for life in Aral Sea Basin area always was agriculture and livestock farming  Dependence of region on water storage and land resources exists from times immemorial  Ecosystem of the region is very vulnerable to manmade impacts because of arid conditions  Extensive method of economic activity and significant population upsurge prompted occurrence of numerous regional environmental. social and economic problems. including global scale catastrophe as Aral Sea tragedy  Aral Sea is recognized by world community to be one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century .

Causes of Aral Sea Desiccation .

by the early 1980s this had fallen to zero . most of it former desert. producing enough cotton to make the Soviet Union a net exporter of ³white gold´  Karakum Canal. 1400 km through desert (Turkmenistan)  From 1974 to 1986 almost no water reached the Aral Sea from Syr Darya  While the sea had been receiving about 50 cubic km of water per year in 1965.Causes of Aral Sea Desiccation  From late 1950s to 1990 large-scale programmes on land development were implemented in the Aral Sea Basin  By 1960 water diverted from rivers that feed the Aral Sea irrigated 11 million acres.

Causes of Aral Sea Desiccation  For more than 30 years. and the Aral¶s shoreline began to recede rapidly  Mismanagement / wastage of water  Seepage because of unlined water channels  Evaporation due to very high temperature . about 90% water from the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya diverted to irrigate millions of acres of land for cotton and rice production  Now these rivers irrigate 20 million acres land  Excessive irrigation substantially decreased inflow to Aral.

Aral Sea Desiccation Process .

Aral Sea 1853 Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68.000 sq km. the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet Union irrigation projects .

By 2007. Aral Sea declined to 10% of its original size. splitting into four lakes ± the North Aral Sea and the eastern and western basins of the once far larger South Aral Sea and one smaller lake between North and South Aral Sea .


Aral Sea 1989 Vozrozdeniye Island .

and the volume was down by 75% . surface area of the Aral had shrunk by nearly half.Aral Sea 2000 By 1990s.

Aral Sea 2001 .

Aral Sea 2002 Water flow into the Aral Sea decreased and water-level lowered more than 21 m .

Aral Sea 2003 .

Aral Sea 2004 .

Aral Sea 2005 .

Aral Sea 2006 .

Aral Sea 2007 .

Aral Sea 2008 .

the south-eastern lake had disappeared and the south-western lake retreated to a thin strip at the extreme west of the former southern sea .Aral Sea 2009 By 2009.

fertile Fergana Valley and Pakistan .Aral Sea 2010 Contaminated Aral dust storms have been reported as far away as the Arctic.

Effects of Desiccation of the Aral Sea .

Effects of Aral Sea Desiccation y Effects on Land y Effects on Health y Effects on Fishing Industry y Hydrological Effects y Effects on Climate y Effects on Ecology .

salty sea bed soil was exposed  More than 4 million hectares of lands turned into desert  Deltas of Amu Darya and Syr Darya are worst hit regions  Aridity of climate.Effects on Land  Over-irrigation and use of chemical fertilizers / pesticides caused toxic salt buildup in many agricultural areas  As the water retreated. land erosion. natural supplies of salts in deposits of alluvial plains. salt-dust transfer from drying bottom of the Aral Sea accentuated the problem  Loss of vegetation .

dispersing its salt particles and pesticide residues .000 tons of exposed soil annually. irrigation.Effects on Land  Contamination of water and soil with industrial and household wastes. steppes ploughing)  Decrease of number of flora and fauna species  Collapse of Tugai Forests in Aral near-shore zones  Dust storms have blown up to 75. water deficit. pesticides etc  Major part of the region has changed as a consequence of manmade activity (deforestation.

Effects on Population Health  Population health was changed for the worse because of environmental problems including water contamination and air pollution. lack of potable water. arthritis by 60 times. poor sanitation  More than 5 million people living in Amu Darya and Syr Darya deltas affected directly  Airborne salt and dust is linked to a rising incidence of respiratory illnesses and may be a cause of throat and esophageal cancer  Cancers have increased by 30 times. chronic bronchitis by 30 times .

defoliants. frequently obtained from rivers and irrigation canals. anemia.Effects on Population Health  Poor quality drinking water. dysfunction of thyroid gland etc . and fertilizers  Drinking water contaminated with viral and bacterial pathogens is responsible for high rates of typhoid. high rate of tuberculosis. viral hepatitis. and dysentery  Maternal and infant mortality rate in epicentre of the disaster zone is one of the highest in CARs  Decrease of life expectancy. cancer. asthma. paratyphoid. has a high salt content and contains pesticides.

donkeys. guinea pigs and hamsters . Vozrozhdeniye Island in the Aral Sea was selected for open-air testing. monkeys and on laboratory animals. sheep.  World's largest biological-warfare testing ground  Experiments conducted on horses.Vozrozhdeniye Island  In 1952. such as white mice. the former Soviet Defence Force started to conduct experiments with biological agents and aerosols for a range of military purposes  Due to its remoteness.

Vozrozhdeniye Island .

Vozrozhdeniye Island .

Lab Complex Vozrozhdeniye Island .

tularemia. botulinum toxin typhus. plague. smallpox.  Agents tested at the Island included anthrax. the island¶s climatic conditions and the isolation from the neighbouring mainland reduced propagation and transmission risks brucellosis. .Vozrozhdeniye Island  Sparsely populated deserts and semi-deserts surrounding the Aral Sea. Q fever.

creating a lasting source of contamination .Vozrozhdeniye Island  In 1992. environmental specialists have for many years been concerned about the contamination of the island by pathogenic microorganisms. the Russian Government declared the closure of facility  Structures were dismantled. and the island was decontaminated and transferred to Kazakh control  In August 1995. some of them resistant to standard antibiotics  Anthrax spores can survive in soil for decades. specialists of the US Department of Defense confirmed this after site visits  Because of the tests.

Vozrozhdeniye Island  Desiccation of Aral Sea resulted in the increase of Vozrozhdeniye Island¶s surface  Its initial surface of 200 km sq expanded to 2000 km sq in 1990  Vozrozhdeniye Island connected to the mainland which undermine safety aspects  Contamination poses continuous and increasing threat to the environment and the health of the population around the Aral Sea .

the Kazakh government announced with great fanfare that the Aral Sea region contains major oil deposits .Vozrozhdeniye Island  In 2001.

Effects on Fishing Industry  Increasing salinity became intolerable for various kinds of fish beginning in the 1970s. and fishing villages are now up to 50 km from water .000  Region's once prosperous fishing industry has been virtually destroyed. bringing unemployment and economic hardship  Ships lie abandoned on salt-encrusted sea beds. commercially useful fish had been eliminated. shutting down an industry that had employed 60. and by 1977 the formerly large fish catch had declined by over 75%  By the early 1980s. its salinity increased. and some species unique to the Aral Sea are now extinct  As the Aral shrank.

Abandoned Aral Fish Harbour .

Abandoned Ships / Fishing Trawlers .

Abandoned Ships / Fishing Trawlers .

and sandstorms. maintain humidity in the region and during winters large water body helped maintaining temperature to a reasonable level  Desert land has spread.Effects on Climate  Local climate has shifted  Aral Sea used to absorb heat during summers. stirring up pesticide-laden dust. are more common  Summers are hotter and dryer and winters colder . wetlands have dried up.

and hayfields .Hydrological Effects  Aral Lake's salt concentration increased from 10% to more than 23%  Ground-water level dropped resulting into drying wells and springs and degrading natural plant communities. pastures.

spawning grounds for commercial fish.Deterioration of Ecosystem  Diminished flow of the Syr Dar'ya and Amu Dar'ya has had devastating effects on rivers' deltas  Prior to 1960. and opportunities for commercial hunting and trapping  Between 1960 and 1974. these oases surrounded by desert not only possessed great ecological value because of the richness of their flora and fauna but provided a natural feed base for livestock. the area of natural lakes in the Syr Dar'ya Delta decreased  11 of the 25 largest lakes disappeared and 4 of the remainder significantly receded . reeds harvested for industry.

Effects on Natural Habitat  Livestock raising suffered considerable damage because of a decline in yields and a reduction of suitable areas  Between 1960 and 1980 the area of hayfields and pastures decreased by 81% and yields fell by more than 50%  At one time 173 animal species lived around the Aral.000 in 1960 . 38 have survived  Commercial hunting and trapping have largely disappeared  Harvest of muskrat skins in the Amu Dar'ya Delta has fallen to 2. mainly in the deltas.500 per year from 650.

Projects to Save Aral Sea

Projects to Save Aral Sea 
Soviet planners prepared a plan to transfer waters from

Siberia's Ob-Irtysh and the Volga Rivers 
Canals would drain water from each of these rivers and

move it south to the Aral Sea 
Ob River pours 385 cubic km of water into the Arctic

Ocean, the Volga River pours 240 cubic km of water per year into the Caspian Sea 
This is about 10% above normal and has gone on for


Plan to Transfer Water from Ob-Irtysh and Volga Rivers

and began to have the freedom to petition and protestIn 1988.Projects to Save Aral Sea  Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost put an end to this scheme. so that the Aral Sea could receive water in gradually increasing amounts of water  There was some reduction in water diversion as a result  Dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 ended central authority and Aral Crisis was in the hands of the five Central Asian nations . the Soviet Central Committee decreed that cotton growing was to be reduced. as the Soviet populace became aware of ecological disasters.

but little action has been taken  Efforts to address the crisis have focused on preventing further shrinkage of the Aral Sea  International Fund to Save Aral Sea  Numerous Studies  Another meeting. and promises of money for an Aral Fund . resulted in offers to reduce water consumption.Projects to Save Aral Sea  They signed an agreement in 1992 pledging efforts toward Aral rehabilitation. in January 1994.

the water level in this lake had risen by 24 m from its lowest level in 2007 .Projects to Save Aral Sea  Full restoration of entire Aral Sea would require a large scale regional changes. such as a shift away from agriculture and huge amount of funds which under the prevalent environment may be a difficult proposition  An effort to save and replenish the North Aral Sea was made by Kazakhstan  As part of this effort. a dam project was completed in 2005. and by 2008.

Measures to Save Aral Sea .

though it would still be incapable of supporting its former fisheries . and the current problems of pollution and lost habitat is likely to go unaddressed  Substantial but feasible irrigation improvements. but would remain incapable of supporting most fauna. would allow partial restoration of the sea. and some reduction in cropland.Measures to Save Aral Sea  Damage is so severe that it is practically irreversible  Sea can be stabilized with improvements in the efficiency of irrigation.

might facilitate shift from existing irrigation practices  Wasteful and inefficient Irrigation System developed during the Soviet era needs to be modernized  Genetically engineered crops that need less water  Israeli engineers experimenting on an Uzbek cotton farm claimed they had increased yield by 40% while reducing water consumption by two thirds .Measures to Save Aral Sea  Urbanization. combined with large revenues from oil and gas projects.

Thank You .

Amu Darya .

Syr Darya .

North Aral Sea .

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