1.0 Introduction- 1 -
2. History- 1 -
3. Effects of the Dying Sea- 3 -
4. Remediation- 5 -
5. Conclusion- 6 -
References- 7 -
List of Figures
Figure 1. Location of Aral Sea. (Google Maps, 2013)- 1 -
Figure 2. Comparison of the Aral Sea Before 1960 and present day.- 4 - Figure 3. Old Fishing Vessels (Francios, 2010)- 4 -
The Aral Sea is located in central Asia and is situated between the south of Kazakhstan, more specifically Aktobe and Kyzylorda provinces and northern Uzbekistan which is an autonomous part of Uzbekistan. Alternative to what the name suggests, the Aral Sea is not in fact a sea, it was, at least up until the second half of the 20th century, among the four largest land locked seas or saline lakes in the world. Since this time, around the 1960’s the sea has been shrinking at a steady rate and between 1960’s to 2007 it had shrunk from 68,000km2 down to 10 % of this original figure (Achmad 2010).
Figure 1. Location of Aral Sea. (Google Maps, 2013)
During the 1900’s, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest saline lake in the world which was used to provide communities with a valuable source of ecosystem services which included food from the vast quantities of fish present in the lake and the preserving of the surrounding soil for agriculture. The Aral Sea has been fed by two main rivers, the Syr Darya on the east which flows into the sea through the north of the lake and the Amu Darya River which flows into the south of the sea. Thompson (2008) highlights that both rivers flow from the Pamir Mountains and once provided four fifths of the seas volume while the remaining one fifth was supplied by rainfall. It is known that the presence of Russian military existed in the region prior to 1900 at approximately 1847 which at this time Raimsk was founded which not too long after was recalled Aralsk which is located at the mouth of the river Syr Darya (Valikhanov et al., 2013). A. Butakov led the first expedition to explore and discover the sea in its entirety which was followed by the first accurate scientific survey and creation of the first map of the Aral Sea which was carried out by the Russian Hydrographical department of the Russian Empire. The sea once had ports and at least 34 species of fish, this lead to the introduction of industrial fishing on the sea which was started by Russian merchants. The sea was soon thriving with ships and fishing vessels conducting activities from industrial scale fishing to trading supplies, materials, and food. The Aral sea was once part of the East-West trading passage, over the years the region has developed a tradition of utilising drainage and systems of irrigation for agricultural purposes prior to Soviet presence in the area. The development of these early systems was not believed to have any effect on the volume of the sea mainly due to the fact that the developments were mostly situated within valleys and river deltas which would have already been at higher moister levels than the desert that surrounded the region. The Soviet Union was known for a less than caring approach to nature when it came to engineering for energy and agriculture. During the 1930’s the Soviet Union had constructed large-scale irrigation systems that had no regard for any water management practices which had kept the life and civilisation within the region for hundreds and even thousands of years prior to this. As technology advanced which enabled bigger project and construction developments, the Soviets began planning ideas to benefit the agricultural industry which at the time was rice melons cereal growth along with the most cost beneficial of the cotton industry or ‘white gold’ as the Soviets called it. This led to the construction of large canals in the 1960’s which led the water from the rivers to farmland as irrigation water, farmlands that would have been considered as unreachable prior to this date. These...