The Aral Sea is actually not a sea at all, but an immense fresh water lake. In the last thirty years, more than sixty percent of the lake has disappeared because much of the river flow feeding the lake was diverted to irrigate cotton fields and rice paddies. Concentrations of salts and minerals began to rise in the shrinking body of water, leading to staggering alterations in the lake's ecology and precipitous drops in the Aral's fish population. Powerful winds that blow across this part of Asia routinely pick up and deposit the now exposed lake bed soil. This has contributed to a significant reduction in breathable air quality, and crop yields have been appreciably affected due to heavily salt laden particles falling on arable land. This series of Landsat images taken in 1973, 1987 and 2000 show the profound reduction in overall area at the north end of the Aral, and a commensurate increase in land area as the floor of the sea now lies exposed.
Data Used: Landsat-7/ETM+
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 188.8.131.52.0