Case Study: The Aral Sea

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  • Created on: 27-11-17 12:54
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  • Case Study: The Aral Sea
    • Background
      • Located on the Southern boarder of Kazakhstan and also crosses into Uzbekistan.
      • In the 1960s it was the 4th largest freshwater sea in the world - covering an area of 68,000km2. However today it is just 90% of its original size.
      • In previous centuries the sea has shrank and then recovered. In 400-600AD the lake was just 10m above sea level, between 1000-1500 it fell to 29m above sea level. From 1600 to the Soviet era the lake was increasing in size and in 1961 the surface was 54m above.
    • Stakeholders
      • Farming community
      • Fishing community
      • Former Soviet government
      • Current Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan governments
      • Local villagers
      • Countries expected to house the 10million environmental refugees
    • Future
      • Oil companies want to attempt to find oil resources on the dry sea bed
      • Fishermen are expected to breed camels to make a living.
      • In 2011 the salinity of the water had dropped significantly and if this trend continues it expected that much of the flora and fauna will return.
      • Another dam may be built at the entrance of the Saryshaganka gulf to create a reservoir.
      • The World Bank donated $84m to help increase the flow of the tributaries to the sea.
      • There are hopes that the sea may return naturally
    • Causes
      • In the early 1960s, the Soviet government diverted the two main tributaries  that fed the Aral Sea, the Amu Darya in the S and the Syr Darya in the E, to irrigate the desert farms in an attempt to grow rice, melons, cereals, and cotton.
      • Many of the irrigation canals were poorly built, meaning a lot of water was lost unnecessarily.  From the Qaraqum Canal, the largest in Central Asia,  30 to 75% of the water went to waste. Today, only 12% of Uzbekistan's irrigation canal length is waterproofed.
    • Effects
      • Expected to cause 10million environmental refugees.
      • Infant mortailty rates are among the highest in the world with 10% of newborns dying before their 1st birthday
      • Only 160 of 310 bird species, 32 of 70 mammal species and very few of the 24 fish species remain
      • The land has become infertile due to the amount of pesticides, fertilisers, nuclear weapons test and industry that has taken place.
        • Drinking water is polluted.
        • The dust that is blown up from the sea bed contains all of these chemicals and is causing respiratory issues, kidney failure and heart problems for local people


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