The Shrinking Aral Sea

February 26, 2007


Provided by: NASA/GSFC
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

The Aral Sea, formerly the fourth largest inland body of water in the world, is now a series of connected saline lakes rather than a prominent sea (1/2 its original size). It straddles Uzbekistan (to the south) and Kazakhstan (to the north). The Aral Sea is referred to as an endorheic, sea (meaning no water flows out of it). It's fed by the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya Rivers to the east. However, diversions for irrigation, made when this area was part of the Soviet Union Soviet, have robbed the Aral Sea of much of its water supply.

In 2001, the World Bank funded the construction of an 8-mile (13 km) dam to separate the North and South Aral, thereby saving the smaller and less polluted northerly lake. Actually, the North Aral Sea has been growing since completion of the Kok-Aral Dam in the summer of 2005.

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