Once the Aral Sea was indeed a sea. Back in the 50s of the XX century, this reservoir, located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, had an area of 68 thousand square kilometers. Its length was 428 km, and the width was 283 km. The maximum depth was up to 68 meters. At the beginning of the 21st century, the situation became completely different. The area of the reservoir was 14 thousand square kilometers, and the deepest places corresponded only to 30 meters. But the sea not only decreased in the area. It also broke up into two isolated reservoirs. The northern one became known as the Small Aral, and the southern one became the Great Aral, since it has more area.
20 million years ago the Aral Sea was connected to the Caspian Sea. At the same time, at the bottom of the reservoir were discovered ancient burials, dated to the middle of the I millennium. Consequently, the sea became shallow, and then again filled with water. Experts believe that changing the water level is subject to certain cycles. At the beginning of the XVII century, another of them began. The level began to decrease, islands were formed, and some rivers ceased to flow into the reservoir.
But this did not mean a catastrophe. The sea, or rather the lake with salt water, since it is not connected with the World Ocean, continued to be a large reservoir. Sailing ships and steamboats sailed along it. The salt lake even had its own Aral military flotilla. Her ships fired from guns and reminded the Kazakhs that they were subjects of the Russian emperor. In parallel, research and scientific work was carried out to study a huge deep water basin.
An alarming messenger of the future tragedy was the beginning of the construction of irrigation canals in Central Asia. People's enthusiasm broke out in the 30s of the XX century, but for another 30 years the reservoir was relatively safe. The water level in it was at the same level. Only from the beginning of the sixties slow, and then faster, lowering has begun. In 1961, the level decreased by 20 cm, and after 2 years by 80 cm.
In 1990, the area of the reservoir was 36.8 thousand square kilometers. At the same time, the salinity of water increased 3 times. This, of course, negatively affected on the local flora and fauna. At all times, fishermen worked on the sea. They caught thousands of tons of the most diverse fish in the year. Fish factories worked around the clock on the banks of the reservoir, canneries and fish receiving points.
In 1989 the Aral Sea ceased to exist as a single whole. Splitting into 2 ponds, it ceased to be a source of fishing. In the Great Aral these days there is no fish. It was all killed because of the high concentration of salt. Fish is caught only in the Small Aral Sea, but compared to the past abundance - it's tears.
The reason for Aral Sea drying out
The fact that the Aral Sea has ceased to exist as a deep-water reservoir is a big problem, first of all for those people who live along its banks. The fish industry is practically destroyed. Accordingly, people were left without work. This is a tragedy for the indigenous people. And it is aggravated by the fact that the fish that is still found in the lake is "stuffed" with pesticides above any norm. This has reflects not the best way on the health of people.
But why did the tragedy happen, what is the reason for the drying out of the Aral Sea? Most experts point to the incorrect distribution of those water resources, which at all times fed the Aral Sea. The main water sources were the Amudarya and Syr Darya. In a year they gave a water basin of 60 cubic kilometers of water. Today, this figure is 5 cubic kilometers per year.
It split into two water bodies: the Small Aral and the Great Aral
These Central Asian rivers begin their path in the mountains and flow through such states as Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Since the 50s of the last century, river flows have been diverted to irrigation of agricultural land. This involved the main rivers, and their tributaries. According to the initial draft, people wanted to irrigate up to 60 million hectares of land. But taking into account water losses and irrational use of the diverted streams, 10 million hectares are irrigated. Practically 70% of the collected water is lost in the sands. It does not fall on the fields or in the Aral Sea.
But there are, naturally, supporters of other theories. Someone sees the cause in the destruction of the bottom layers of the reservoir. As a result, water flows into the Caspian Sea and other lakes. Some experts sin on the global climate change of the blue planet. They also talk about negative processes occurring in glaciers. They are mineralized, which affects poorly in the Syr Darya and Amu Darya. After all, they originate from the mountain streams.
Climate change in the Aral Sea area
In the 21st century, the process of changing climatic conditions in the Aral Sea began. It largely depended on the huge water mass. The Aral Sea was a natural regulator. It softened the cold of the Siberian winds and reduced the summer temperature to a comfortable one. Today, the summer has become dry, and a significant drop in temperature is observed already in August. Accordingly, vegetation is dying, which affects not the best way on the domestic cattle.
But if everything was limited to the Aral Sea area, the problem would not look so globally. However, the drying up reservoir affects on a much larger area. The thing is that powerful air currents are passing over the Aral Sea. They rise from the naked bottom of a thousand tons of a dangerous mixture consisting of salt, chemicals and poisonous dust. All this falls into the high layers of the atmosphere and spreads not only over the territory of Asia, but also over Europe. These are whole salt streams that move high in the air. With precipitation they fall to the ground and kill all life.
Today, the Aral Sea is known throughout the world as a territory subject to an ecological catastrophe. However, the Central Asian states and the international community are concerned not with the restoration of the reservoir, but with the smoothing of the conflict situation that has arisen as a result of its drying out. Money is allocated for maintaining the standard of living of the population, for preserving infrastructure, which is only a consequence, but not a cause of the tragedy.
We can not discount the fact that the Aral Sea is located in a territory rich in natural gas and oil. International corporations have long been geological developments in this field. If the world's investments flow like a river, then local officials will become very rich people. That's only a dying pond that does not bring any benefit. Most likely, the situation will become even worse, and the ecological situation will worsen.