Doctor Paddy Ryan
7 January 2013
The Aral Sea
The Aral Sea use to be the forth-largest saline sea in the world, that is until in the 1960s. The former Soviet Union diverted the two rivers that fed the Aral Sea, to make water available to the surrounding cotton fields and other crop farming regions in the desert like area. Due to the diversion of the rivers, the Aral Sea has begun to evaporate into the Aral Sea we see today. Even though the irrigation of the desert did wonders to the farming industry, it has left the Aral Sea a complete disaster. The Aral Sea is located in the northern part of Uzbekistan and the southern part of Kazakhstan, and primarily fed by the Amu-Darya River from the South and the Syr-Darya River from the North. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were part of the former Soviet Union during the 1960s, the time when they began to divert the rivers flow of water. This caused the surface level of the lake, which in the 1960s was 26,250 square miles, to shrink about 75% of that (ARAL SEA). It has now been split into three smaller lakes. There is now a smaller northern lake and the larger southern lake that splits into two basins. The rivers flow has been so diverted over the past couple decades that the Amu-Darya River no longer feeds the lake in the southern area. Water now flows only into the northern part of the lake (Wiki). Many problems have come about since the shrinking of the large sea, including health issues. There are four major environmental issues caused by the evaporation of the lake, these include desertification, health problems of the surrounding populations, dust/salt wind and climate change of the surrounding regions. “Desertification is the rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semiarid regions, usually caused by a combination of drought and the overexploitation of grasses and other vegetation by people” (Dictionary). As the sea dried up so did...
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