Earthshots: Satellite images of environmental change – Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

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Abstract

Earthshots introduces remote sensing by showing examples of how environmental changes look from space.

Before the 1960s, fishing in Central Asia's Aral Sea was an important resource for surrounding communities. When the rivers flowing into the Aral Sea were diverted to irrigate cotton and other crops, many more consequences than the loss of fishing resulted.

Beginning in the 1960s, the Soviet Union began to divert water from the two major rivers in Central Asia—Amu Darya and Syr Darya—that flow into the Aral Sea to irrigate millions of acres of cotton and rice farms. Consequently, the volume of the Aral Sea has reduced from more than 700 cubic kilometers in 1960 to 75 cubic kilometers in 2007.

As the water levels dropped, the water salinity increased. One liter of Aral water once had 14 grams of salt, but in 2007, the same volume had more than 100 grams—twice the salinity of the ocean.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Dataset
Publication Subtype Website
Title Earthshots: Satellite images of environmental change – Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description HTML Document
Country Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
Other Geospatial Aral Sea
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N