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What are the problem with the Aral sea - Research Paper Example

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In the recent years, Aral has attracted the world attention following its great degradation, a factor that has been termed one of the worst man-made disasters of this age. Currently, this sea is ranked the eighth largest after dropping four steps down from its previous fourth position. …
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Download file to see previous pages Aral is translated in Kazakh to mean “island”. These islands form one important highway referred as the Silk Road, which lead all the way from Asia to Europe (STONE, 1999). In the recent years, Aral has attracted the world attention following its great degradation, a factor that has been termed one of the worst man-made disasters of this age. Currently, this sea is ranked the eighth largest after dropping four steps down from its previous fourth position. The problems experienced today are traced back to moves made in the past that saw water from rivers Syrdarya and Amudarya diverted for use in irrigation. Consequently, the sea underwent serious shrinkage that altered the climate and thus livelihood of many people whom once dependent on these sea. General Problem Background The period marking 1960s experience a robust increase in irrigation activities, this in turn posed serious implications on Aral ecosystem. Such is the case that the Amudarya delta that is situated on the southern side of the sea formed a significant irrigation area approximated to cover about 28,000 sq. km. This area was used in the production of cotton and rice considered the most lucrative crops in the region. Following the onset of cold war, this region was set apart by former U.S.S.R to serve as a land that would offer freedom from the west. Although considered less productive, the planners never considered the possible desertification occurrence. Today, the Aral Sea faces a risk of vanishing after it retreated more than 100 km from its initial boundaries. People visiting this place will come across fishing boats abandoned and other marine equipment scattered all over the place. In addition, the area is marked by dusty plains that were once covered with water (Pala, 2005). The area began experiencing the negative effects after the water quantity diminished significantly to cause a rise in salinity. Consequently, the highly saline environment proved toxic to fishes and other wildlife living in the sea. The first case of this drastic rise in salinity was reported between 1970 and 1974, when it was insinuated to have risen from 12 – 14 percent. By early 1980s, the salinity level stroked a 23 percent mark, a factor that left close to 60, 0000 people jobless due to reduction in fish. This period marked the end of commercial fishing and many other related businesses. Further reports insinuate that 200 species of the known 500 species of birds existing in the region have perished in the last four decades. As it is now, waters from Syrdarya in the north and Amudarya in the south hardly reach the sea, thanks to the heavy diversions to cater for the many irrigation activities in the region. The period between 1960 and 1995 realized a great decrease in the sea’s surface area following a loss of about three quarters of the total water volume (Pala, 2006).This also marked a significant reduction in the water depth which is placed at 19 meters. Another significant damage relates to NE winds that are said to blow off salty dust from the sea to area close and far. This process has been linked to transfer of millions of tons of salt dust every year. Such is the case that aerosols are blown into higher layers forming the atmosphere, which later spread across the globe (Glantz, 1999).This is true, as evidence gathered from Antarctic penguin showed traces of pesticides used in the Aral region. This dust forms from mixtures of agricultural chemicals and the frequently used fertilizer considered toxic to both humans and animals. In this region, the salt and pesticide used find its way deep into the ground water, a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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