Space photo highlights ‘catastrophic’ shrinking of Aral Sea
Shkaplerov, who is currently serving as a flight engineer on the International Space Station, posted the image on his Instagram page. “Currently the sea level is catastrophically low,” he wrote.
The Aral Sea (or the Sea of Islands), located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia, has been steadily turning into a desert. Formerly one of the largest lakes in the world with a total area of 68,000 square kilometers, it has lost 90 percent of its volume since the 1960s.
The lake began shrinking in the 19th century, but the process was sped up by Soviet-era irrigation projects, as the rivers that fed into it were reversed. The desiccation, which was described as an “environmental tragedy” by UNESCO, is a huge blow to the economy of the region, where fishing used to be the main source of income. Dams are being erected and other efforts are currently being made in order to save and replenish the Aral Sea.
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