Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Optimism grows for Aral Sea

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Water
Boat stranded in the Aral Sea Boat stranded in the Aral Sea Shutterstock
01 Apr
2014
Short-term prospects for the Aral Sea catchment in Central Asia better than previously thought

Over the past 50 years, the Aral Sea has lost 90 per cent of its water – mostly due to removal for irrigation for cotton growing. Using data from NASA’s GRACE satellites, Kirk Zmijewski and Richard Becker mapped monthly changes in mass within the lake’s 1.5-million-square- kilometre catchment between 2003 and 2012. These changes are directly related to changes in water volume, both on and below the land surface.

The results, obtained by a new study by scientists from the University of Toledo in Ohio, and published in Earth Interactions, indicated that over the study period, the catchment area lost an average of 12–14 cubic kilometres per year. However, this was only about half the rate at which the Aral Sea itself lost water during that period. ‘That means that roughly half the water lost from the Aral Sea has entirely left the watershed, by evaporation or agricultural uses, but half is upstream within the watershed,’ said Becker.

A closer examination of the data indicated that the central part of the catchment, where almost all of the region’s farming takes place, actually increased in mass during the last four years of the study. The researchers suggest that this increase was due to a combination of improvements in water conservation and water seeping out of unlined ditches into aquifers.

This story was published in the April 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Julysub 2020

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Cities

Scientists are using sophisticated data modelling to predict how cities…

Places

The most populated country of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has been…

Forests

To protect the forests that act as natural carbon reservoirs,…

Forests

Recent research finds that climate change-induced drought is having a…

Cities

The city of Calais struggles with its reputation. More often…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig and Tina Gotthardt map the coronavirus

Water

The controversial practice of cloud-seeding has always been difficult to…

Forests

The impact of wildfires on water supplies has received little…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps the two sides of global malnutrition –…

Cities

Thomas Bird reports on the coronavirus, speaking to those trapped…

Forests

The world’s second largest tropical forest receives significantly less funding…

Cities

The world’s first water-borne dairy farm has been erected on…

Cities

Continental Europe’s most extensive underground rail transport network, the Madrid…

Cities

A central highway in Brazil’s largest city is about to…

Cities

Urban photography marries themes and passages from TS Eliot in…

Mapping

From Leonardo da Vinci’s genius and the history of Starbucks,…

Mapping

How do you usually travel to work? Question 41 in…

Water

The Nile is home to mysteries both ancient and modern…

Places

While researching his main article on the world’s smallest countries,…

Places

Vitali Vitaliev briefly meets the down-to-earth ruler of Liectenstein