Aral Sea •

Last update: June 26th, 2019 at 12:46 pm

On September 22, 2004, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of the ever-shrinking Aral Sea. What was once the world’s fourth largest inland sea, Aral straddles Kazakhstan and northern Uzbekistan, and is slowly fading into the surrounding central Asian deserts.

The Sea has been shrinking since the 1990s. Every year about 60 square kilometers of water are lost to evaporation. Further, agricultural needs along the Syr Darya and Amu Darya Rivers, which feed the southern Aral Sea, have claimed almost all the Sea’s incoming water for the past four decades. By the year 2000, over 42,000 square kilometers of land had been exposed by the receding water levels.

Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

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