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Hydrogeology - Aral Sea

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Veronika Stoyanova

on 19 January 2014

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Transcript of Hydrogeology - Aral Sea

Aral Sea - Environmental disaster
Photograph by Sebastian Kluger
Presented by: Veronika Stoyanova
Liam Perera
Max Baillie
In 2005 a dam was built to stabilise the Small (Northern) Aral, sponsored by the World Bank.
The water stabilised at 42m, still 11m bellow 1960’s level, and 20 km away from Aralsk harbour.
The salinity dropped from 100g/L to 14 g/L.
Fish returned to the sea, and some part of the fishing industry was restored.
Local dreams of turning Aralsk into a tourist destination
A follow-up dam improvement project was to commence in 2009. ($300 million)
This project will allow The Small Aral to reach the Shores in Aralsk. Started in 2012.
The Small (Northern) Aral

“Apart from running some public awareness campaigns on the necessity of preserving water, the government is doing nothing substantial.” (EurasiaNet, 2012, Mar 22)

There are no real efforts to save the Large Aral Sea.
The Uzbekistan Government is more interested in sustaining the cotton production.
Uzbek and Russian companies are prospecting for oil and gas deposits under the former bed of the sea
Rehabilitation of Amu Dar’ya delta and its wetlands has been a priority since 1980s.
Expected to disappear completely by 2020.

The Large Aral
The total restoration of the Sea is too costly to be feasible:
- $16 billion investment in improvement of the Uzbek irrigation system
- Switching to less water intensive crops, like fruit and vegetables
- Reduction of the 43% reduction of the irrigation area
- 34 years

Will the Aral Sea ever return?
EURASIANET. 2012, Mar 22. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan: Differing Approaches on Aral Sea [Online]. Available: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65167 [Accessed 06 Oct 2013].
MICKLIN, P. 2007. The Aral Sea Disaster. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet Sci 35:47-72, from http://www.iml.rwth-aachen.de/elearning/srw/uebungsmaterial/AralSeaDisaster.pdf
MICKLIN, P. 2010. The past, present, and future Aral Sea. Lakes & Reservoirs Research and Management, 15, 193-213. 
ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANICA ONLINE, 2013. Aral Sea. Retrieved 06 October, 2013, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/31983/Aral-Sea
COLUMBIS UNIVERSITY. 2008. The Aral Sea Crisis. www.columbia.edu/~tmt2120/introduction.htm [Accessed 09 October 2013].
ATLAS OBSCURA. 2013. Aral Sea. www.atlasobscura.com/places/aral-sea [Accessed 06 October 2013].
NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY. Aral Sea Dust Storm. earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=43299 [Accessed 09 October 2013].
WORLD RESOURCE INSTITUTE 2008. Disappearance of the Aral Sea (Web Page) from http://www.wri.org/stories/2008/05/disappearance-aral-sea [Accessed 9 October 2013]
The Future?
Bringing water from elsewhere?
- The Siberian Project
- Obtaining water from Lake Zaysan
Weather becomes more extreme, with summer temperatures set to rise and winter temperatures set to fall.
Precipitation to increase significantly by 2050.
Winds strengthening, particularly from the north-east, resulting in more intense and frequent dust storms.

Climate Impact
Uzbekistan has abnormally high cancer and anthrax rates.
Potentially due to the intensification of these dust storms.
Vozrozhdeniya Island former Soviet biological testing ground for cures to tuberculosis and smallpox, for example; hence why the surrounding land is highly contaminated.

Health Issues

Salinity of Aral Sea has increased from 10 g salt/l to between 100 and 200 g salt/l (once perfect conditions for freshwater fish and other ecosystems, but now depleted and sustains little life).
Water levels fallen by ~92% since 1960.
Water levels fell at a rate of ~21 cm/yr initially, then increased to today’s value of ~57 cm/yr.

Environmental Impacts
Better agriculture? More jobs provided for growing population? Enhanced Cotton Trade?
Cotton is one of the main trade sectors for Uzbekistan; hence the fragile economy relies greatly on the trade.
Conditions are gradually becoming very poor for cotton production, so most has to be made from it (use money made from cotton trade to fund exploration into new resources?).

Socioeconomic Impacts

Dust Storm
over the
Aral Sea
Inflow + Precipitation = Evapotranspiration

56km³yr­¯¹ + 9km³yr­¯¹ = 66km³yr­¯¹
43.4km³yr­¯¹ + 8km³yr­¯¹ = 65km³yr­¯¹
9 km³yr­¯¹ + 1-4km³yr­¯¹ = 15-25km³yr­¯¹
Nasa http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop/EFS/photoinfo.pl?PHOTO=STS51F-36-59
Amu Darya
Syr Darya
Length - 2212km
Source - Tien Shan Mountains
Discharge - 1060m³/s
Length - 2400km
Source - Pamir Mountains
Discharge - 2500m³s
Pre 1950s
Irrigation widly practiced with no problems
Virgin Lands Campaign
Karakum Canal
1987 First split - North Aral vs South Aral
1991 Kazakhstan Independence
Western Aral
North Aral
Deficit of
Deficit of
Photo by Juri Fontana
Aral Sea Basin
Located in Central Asia: Between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
Basin Area: 1.8 million km2
Aral Sea: 67,000 km2
Seven Nations: Uzbekistan Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iran
Water Balance
International effort for water management required.
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