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Beginning about 1960, the Aral Sea’s water level was systematically and drastically reduced, because of the diversion of water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers for purposes of agricultural irrigation.

In 1994 those same states—Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, with the addition of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—established a joint committee to coordinate efforts to save the Aral Sea. With the climate mitigating effects of the Aral Sea diminished, winters are now colder and summers hotter.

That change resulted primarily because of the diversion (for purposes of irrigation) of the riverine waters of the Syr Darya (ancient Jaxartes River) in the north and the Amu Darya (ancient Oxus River) in the south, which discharged into the Aral Sea and were its main sources of inflowing water.

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The desolate area has replaced a once vibrant fishing and tourist industry. Updates? Ghost ships at the former shore of the Aral Sea in Moynaq, Uzbekistan. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. BBC. Frederick, Kenneth. We use cookies on our website to give you the most relevant experience by remembering your preferences and repeat visits. This provided some success with reducing salinity levels and the return of some of the fishing industry which one provided one of the major sources of income for the area. By the 1980s, during the summer months, the two great rivers virtually dried up before they reached the lake. At around 17,000 square miles (45,000 square kilometers), the Aralkum Desert is the world’s youngest desert, created entirely due to man-made disturbances.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. Although the average depth was a relatively shallow 53 feet (16 metres) or so, it descended to a maximum of 226 feet (69 metres) off the western shore. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. Aral Sea, Kazakh Aral Tengizi, Uzbek Orol Dengizi, a once-large saltwater lake of Central Asia. The Aral Sea area is characterized by a desert-continental climate that features wide-ranging diurnal air temperatures, cold winters, hot summers, and sparse rainfall. Read More Berlin: Springer, 2012. The water level had dropped to 125 feet (36 metres) above sea level, and the water volume was reduced by three-fourths of what it had been in 1960.

Most of these desert regions support slight vegetative cover fed by subterranean groundwater. The Aralkum desert was once the Aral Sea. How Often Does it Snow in the Sahara Desert? By the end of the century the Aral Sea had receded into three separate lakes: the Greater Sea had divided into a long, narrow, western lake and a larger, broader, eastern lake, with the remains of the Lesser Sea to the north. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. It straddles the boundary between Kazakhstan to the north and Uzbekistan to the south. By 1992 the total area of the two parts of the Aral Sea had been reduced to approximately 13,000 square miles (33,800 square km), and the mean surface level had dropped by about 50 feet (15 metres). INTAS, Aug. 2007. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. The sea’s northern shore—high in some places, low in others—was indented by several large bays. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Unfortunately, the southern section of the Aral Sea is beyond saving and is projected to completely dry out by the end of the decade. Almost no water from the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya ever reached the Aral Sea anymore. Covering much of present-day Turkmenistan, the Karakum Desert lies east of the Caspian Sea, with the Aral Sea to the north and the Amu Darya river and the Kyzyl Kum desert to the northeast. The Aral Sea, located in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, is a completely enclosed sea (lake) with a large inland catchment area (Laity, 2008). Rapid Growth Shortens Trees’ Lifespans – and Adds to the Climate Crisis, Review | The Selected Letters of Cassiodorus: A Sixth-Century Sourcebook, WWF Report: Wildlife Has Declined 68% Since 1970, The Speaking Style of Some Languages May Help Spread COVID-19. Northwesterly winds prevail in autumn and winter, and westerly and southwesterly winds are common in spring and summer. Aral, also known as Aralsk or Aral'sk, is a small city in south-western Kazakhstan, located in the oblast of Kyzylorda. It was a huge natural lake along the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan just east of the larger (and much more well-known) Caspian Sea. Over the centuries, variations in the water level exceeded 20 feet (6 metres), while annual and seasonal variations of between 10 feet (3 metres) and less than 1 foot (0.3 metre) were recorded. When an ill-judged Soviet decision caused the Aral Sea to dry up, a fleet of fishing boats was left abandoned and rusting in the middle of the desert. With continuing irrigation and declining river flows due to climate change, the desert is only set to expand. The white salt terrain left behind by the desiccation of the southern Aral Sea is now known as the Aralkum Desert.

The Aral Sea was once the fourth-largest inland water body in the world with an original area of 26,300 square miles (68,000 square kilometers). The Aral Sea began to quickly shrink because of the evaporation of its now unreplenished waters. ‘The Disappearing Aral Sea’. Replacing the shrinking areas of the Aral Sea, the Aralkum Desert is located in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, making it the world’s youngest desert.. The Shrinking Aral Sea. The difficulty of coordinating any plan between those competing states, however, hampered progress. The average lifespan has dropped significantly with the current average age at 51, down from 65. In the early 21st century the eastern portion of the Aral Sea suffered the most drastic and immediate decline—diminishing by some four-fifths between 2006 and 2009. By 1989 the Aral Sea had receded to form two separate parts, the “Greater Sea” in the south and the “Lesser Sea” in the north, each of which had a salinity almost triple that of the sea in the 1950s. By clicking “Accept”, you consent to the use of ALL the cookies.