Tuesday, September 30, 2014
NASA finds that Earth's fourth-largest lake is almost completely dry
Images from NASA's Terra satellite have revealed some alarming results. The Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, which once was the fourth-largest lake in the world, is almost completely dry,.
The lake by two major rivers, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, which flowed through the Kyzylkum Desert, meeting at the basin's end. Scientists attribute to an irrigation project by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, which took water from the rivers to turn the desert into a farmland for cotton. The desert thrived, but the Aral Sea .
The images, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on the Terra satellite, reveal that the Aral Sea's eastern lobe has . NASA began collecting the images in 2000, when the effects of the '60s-era project were already evident. The photos show that the Northern Aral Sea separated from the Southern Aral Sea, and the lake has become "a fraction of what it had been before the irrigation project started,".
After the north and south parts of the lake became divided, the lake's eastern lobe completely dried up in 2014, NASA found. The has caused trouble for the local communities, too — the water that's still in the Aral Sea with fertilizer and pesticides, causing a public health hazard, according to the NASA Earth Observatory. And "to compound matters, more water has been taken from the rivers to flush out the cropland affected by the contaminated dust that had blown up from the lakebed," notes, leading to colder winters and warmer summers.
"This is the first time the eastern basin has completely dried in modern times," Philip Micklin, an Aral Sea expert at Western Michigan University, for NASA's Earth Observatory. "And it is likely the first time it has completely dried in 600 years."
Posted by John MacHaffie at 5:20:00 PM