Dust storm over the Aral Sea. Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a dust storm over the Aral Sea in Central Asia.
Most of the dust was blowing in from the Aralkum Desert, which has developed in areas where the Aral Sea dried up during the last 60 years.
According to NASA, dried lake beds are abundant sources of atmospheric dust because they are filled with fine-grained sediment that winds can easily lift.
The image was captured on March 24, 2020 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
Formerly the fourth largest lake in the world with an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. By 1997, it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes: the North Aral Sea, the eastern and western basins of the once far larger South Aral Sea, and one smaller intermediate lake. By 2009, the southeastern lake had disappeared and the southwestern lake had retreated to a thin strip at the western edge of the former southern sea; in subsequent years, occasional water flows have led to the southeastern lake sometimes being replenished to a small degree. Satellite images taken by NASA in August 2014 revealed that for the first time in modern history the eastern basin of the Aral Sea had completely dried up. The eastern basin is now called the Aralkum Desert.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory