Amu Darya Irrigation

January 08, 2001


Provided by: LuAnn Dahlman, Cntr for Earth & Space Science Ed
Summary authors & editors: LuAnn Dahlman

Image Source: NASA EarthKAM STS099.ESC.09112634

Where is all the Aral Sea's water going?

This rich agricultural area is along the Amu Darya River in Central Asia. It cuts through one of the world’s most desolate desert regions. Huge irrigation projects deliver water from the Amu Darya River to crops along the river and across Central Asia. The river used to carry rain and snowmelt all the way from the foothills of the Himalayas to the Aral Sea. Now, much of the water is diverted for crops, resulting in the shrinking area and increase in salinity of the Aral Sea (see the Earth Picture of the Day for December 28, 2000).

This image (as well as ~4500 others) was taken by middle school students controlling a camera onboard the Space Shuttle as part of NASA’s EarthKAM project. Images, educational materials, and details on how classes can participate are available at

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