93 Aral Sea Facts: Learn More About The Sea Of Islands | Kidadl

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93 Aral Sea Facts: Learn More About The Sea Of Islands

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The Aral Sea is an endorheic salt lake between Kazakhstan's Kyzylorda and Aktobe districts and Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan independent territory.

The Aral Sea, once the world's fourth-largest lake, is now recognized as one of the world's worst ecological disasters.

The Aral Sea drainage basin comprises Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Iran. The Syr Darya and the Amu Darya rivers supply it, reaching the Sea from the north and south, respectively. If you love learning about nature and other fun things about the water bodies in the world - then you'll love reading about the Aral Sea! Make sure you check it all out and do not forget to share it with your friends and other nature lovers!

Facts About the Aral Sea

Towards the conclusion of the Neogene Period, the Aral Sea depression developed (which existed from about 23-2.6 mya). The hole was partly flooded with water during that process, some of which flowed from the Syr Darya.

This body of water is historically and geographically significant.

However, because of the drying of its now-depleted waters, the Aral Sea began to shrink rapidly.

The average depth of the Aral Sea in the north is 29 ft (8.8 m) and in the south is 46-49 ft (14-15 m).

The Aral Sea is a vast, shallow brackish lake hidden between two nations in isolated deserts.

According to legend, the Aral Sea was once as big as West Virginia that had more water than Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

The term 'Aral Sea' means 'Sea of Islands' about the numerous islands encircle their waters.

Aral signifies island or archipelago in Turkic and Mongolian languages.

Following a drop in sea level that coincided with the rise of the adjacent Caucasus and Elburz Mountains, the enormous lake developed 5.5 mya.

One of the lake's two major tributaries, the Amu Darya, did not flow into the valley that today creates the Aral Sea till the Holocene.

It had previously entered the Caspian Sea via the Uzboy Channel.

During the Pliocene epoch, the lake's other river, the Syr Darya, created an immense lake in the Kyzyl Kum called the Mynbulak depression.

The Aral Sea was 175 ft (53.3 m) above sea level around 1960, with a surface size of 26,300 sq mi (68,116.6 sq km).

Its most considerable extent was nearly 270 mi (434.5 km) from north to south and a little over 180 mi (289.6 km) from east to west.

The Aral Sea had retreated by 1989, forming two different portions, the 'Greater Sea' in the south as well as the 'Lesser Sea' in the north, each with a salinity about quadruple that of the '50s.

From its northern seaport of Aralsk of Kazakhstan towards the Amu Darya river harbors, the Aral Sea had abundant fish sources and a thriving shipping population.

In the '40s, massive and numerous irrigation canals were built.

The enormous irrigation system consisted of 20,000 mi (32186.88 km) of canals, over 80 reservoirs, and 45 dams.

On the Vozrozhdeniya island, which is now a disputed area between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, an underground Soviet bioweapons lab was established in 1948. The lab was left after the Soviet Union disintegrated.

The Problems Faced By The Aral Sea

The ecology of the Aral Sea was mainly damaged due to higher salinity, fertilizer runoffs, and weapons testing. Water mismanagement and over irrigation were two key factors why the Aral Sea area fared poorly. 'The salinization of the ground water, chemicals in the environment as well as food chain, and sandstorms' are some of the environmental effects of changes in the Aral Sea area that may influence human health.

The government is thought to be mostly accountable for the Aral Sea's collapse.

The imbalance has caused the ocean to progressively dry up over the last forty years due to a shift in river direction.

The population's lifetime is one of the fascinating Aral Sea facts to consider.

In comparison to Almaty, the life expectancy is only 66 years.

Human health concerns in the Aral Sea region are caused by the rising mineralization and salinity of water sources and the continuous usage and predominance of industrial chemicals.

The Amu Darya and the Syr Darya are the primary rivers of Central Asia, which is one of the world's harshest areas.

Soviet planners created a network of irrigation channels in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the '60s to redirect the waters into cotton farms, depriving the sea of its vital blood.

The drinking water in the region comprises four times the WHO recommended maximum of salt per liter.

Salt contamination limits the amount of land that may be planted, degrades pastures, and results in a lack of feed for cattle.

In the region, the livestock population has plummeted.

It has an internal sewage system.

The Aral Sea is an endorheic basin among fascinating Aral Sea facts.

An endorheic basin is a drain basin that stores water.

It needs no drainage to other natural water bodies like rivers or seas yet converges into perennial or temporary swamps or lakes that balance evaporation.

They're also called terminal or closed basins, internal drainage networks, or basins.

The Aral Sea and the surrounding Central Asia region soon felt the effects of irrigation modifications.

As a result, as per the World Bank, freshwater sources have declined, while public health risks have worsened.

In addition, the once-thriving fishing industry in the area was decimated, resulting in job losses and economic hardship.

Due to waste, a significant amount of water was wasted.

The canals were unlined and unprotected.

Before it touched the crops, much of the water dried or flowed into the soil.

Furthermore, the cotton-growing program was implemented around the same time that fibers began to appear on global markets.

The cotton industry never made as much money as it was expected to, and most of it ended up in Moscow rather than Central Asia.

After 50 years, the lake has shrunk to 25% of its original size, with only 10% of its original water capacity remaining.

However, the government has implemented several policies and steps to restore the water flow of the Aral Sea.

Aral sea is one of the most interesting natural phenomena happening across the world!

Aral Sea's Ecosystem

The receding water left plains sprinkled with salt and various toxic chemicals originating from weapons testing, sloppy industrial ventures, and fertilizers. In addition, dust storms erupted on the freshly exposed ocean floors, carrying harmful dust loaded with salt, fertilizer, pesticides, and other pollutants. As a result, the ecosystems of the Aral Sea, as well as the deltas that feed it, are practically gone.

After the Neogene Period, the Aral Sea depression developed.

As a result, only a portion of the water in the basin came from the Syr Darya, and it was only partially filled.

By 2003, the Aral Sea was rapidly disappearing.

Because of the rise in salinity, the water became unfit to drink.

Unfortunately, the bottom waters were considerably saline than the surface waters, and because they didn't mix, the lake's surface evaporated quickly.

In the same year, the South Aral Sea was split into two basins, one Eastern and one Western.

The evaporation of the Aral Sea also caused a shift in the Ocean Temperature.

Summer sea surface temperatures are rising, whereas winter sea surface temperatures are falling. One of the most depressing Aral sea facts is this.

The area around the lake is quite filthy.

People living near the lake confront a lack of pure drinking water regularly, as well as a variety of health issues such as cancer, lung disease, liver disease, and renal disease.

The Aral Sea fisheries sector, which employed over 40,000 people and supplied one-sixth of the Soviet Union's fishery resources, is now extinct.

According to the facts concerning the Aral Sea, the imbalance that caused the ocean to dry up over the last 40 years slowly was caused by a shift in river direction.

Steps To Reduce The Aral Sea's Shrinkage

Previous levees were reinforced, banks were leveled, and old Soviet bottlenecks were eliminated to improve the flow from the river Syr Darya. In addition, fish hatcheries would be supplied, and land-based fishing vessels would be placed back into operation.

The five republics that share the Aral Sea Basin banded together to establish a strategy to address the internationally acknowledged environmental problem of the increasing desiccation of the Aral Sea.

The UN agencies and  World Bank collaborated to create the Aral Sea Program, initially sponsored by the five nations and other contributors.

Between the southern and northern seas, a 10 mi (16 km) dike was created in the early '90s to block a canal that brought water from the northern Sea to the southern ocean.

Reduced irrigation could aid in the re-establishment of the Sea.

However, Uzbekistan is in severe need of funds, and it is hesitant to reduce its water consumption.

Having wide-ranging weather, cold winters, hot summers, and rare rainfall, the local environment has been defined as desert-continental.

Over the years, many potential remedies to the current situation have surfaced.

Increasing the quality of irrigation canals, implementing desalination plants as well as dams to replace the Aral Sea, prohibiting the use of chemicals near the lake and on cotton plantations.

In addition, there have been discussions about using a pipeline to pump saltwater from the Caspian Sea and mixing it with fresh water from the surrounding catchment region.

Improving existing irrigation systems and focusing water infrastructure on a local scale.

One of the most significant efforts was undertaken to restore the North Aral Sea, and a proposal to link the South Aral Sea and the West Aral Sea by a dam over the Berg Strait was under consideration.

In addition, the government announced a plan to build Dike Kokaral, a concrete dam, in October of 2003.

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan joined the ICWC in 1992, forming the Interstate Commission for Water Management of Central Asia.

Their significant goals were river basin management, conflict-free water distribution, automation of head buildings, scientific study, collaboration with hydro-meteorological observatories, and organized water conservation.

After the Caspian Sea, Lake Superior, and Lake Victoria, the Aral Sea was the world's fourth inland sea 50 years ago.

It began to decline due to Soviet irrigation operations, with its surface area decreasing by more than half, from 25868.9-11583.1 sq mi (67,000-30,000 sq km), between 1960-1996.

During 1997, the water level had dropped to 10% of its maximum level, forming four lakes: the western and eastern bowls of the once-vast, the North Aral Sea, South Aral Sea, and the in-between Barsakelmes Lake.

Mishandling of land as well as water resources has resulted in deterioration throughout the Aral Sea basin, affecting fish output and resulting in high salinity, pollution, and violent sand storms.

As a result, when Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it promised to return its section of the Aral Sea.

Similar attempts have proved impossible for Uzbekistan, where most river water is still used for cotton cultivation, which is one of the country's primary economic pillars.

The south continues to contract.

The World Bank, for example, doubts that the Aral Sea will ever be restored to its previous extent.

The Soviet Union was decommissioned and abandoned.

Thankfully, the Kazakh administration assured that the areas where microbes were hidden have been decontaminated.

The fact that the Aral Sea is a lake is one of its distinctive features.

Until the '70s, it had a surface area of 26254.95 sq mi (68000 sq km), a length of 261 mi (420 km), and a breadth of 174 mi (280 km).

It was so large that it was referred to as a sea.

The Sea of Islands is named after the existence of a thousand islands.

There are even other names for it! It's known as Khwarazm or Khorezm in Arabic.

Sinyeye More is how the Russians refer to it.

The waters of the Aral Sea cannot be discharged into any oceans or rivers.

The Kara-kum Canal is the longest agricultural canal in the world.

From Haun-Khan till Ashkhabad, it stretches.

It transports water from the Amu-Darya to populated regions in Turkmenistan's south.

It runs the length of Turkmenistan, emptying the Amu-Darya and providing water for cotton plantations.

The canal loses a lot of the water it transports and is in desperate need of repair.

From the air, it appears to be a thin ribbon of weeds flanked with kilometers-wide bands.

The government of Turkmenistan acknowledges that 28% of the water evaporates before it reaches its target. Scientists estimate that the number is close to 60%.

Written By
Devangana Rathore

With a Master's in Philosophy from the prestigious University of Dublin, Devangana likes to write thought-provoking content. She has vast copywriting experience and previously worked for The Career Coach in Dublin. Devanga also possesses computer skills and is constantly looking to boost her writing with courses from the universities of Berkeley, Yale, and Harvard in the United States, as well as Ashoka University, India. Devangana was also honored at the University of Delhi when she undertook her Bachelor's Degree in English and edited her student paper. She was social media head for the global youth, the literacy society president, and the student president.

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