Aral Sea Case Study
Terms in this set (22)
What is the Aral Sea a Case Study for?
Water supply problems, human interference
What was the Aral Sea once the size of?
Why did the Aral Sea shrink to 10% of its original size?
water abstraction from its 2 main tributaries, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya River, the diversion of water from these rivers was in turn a direct result of the development of cotton production in the surrounding region
How did the crisis begin?
In the early decades of the 20th century, the Soviet Union government initiated a plan to expand irrigation in the region to cultivate cotton for export and thus increase the standard of living for its growing population. The Gov realized that this would reduce inland water inflow to the Aral Sea but they thought the Trade Off was worth it
What happened in 1956?
The Kara Kum Canal was opened, resulting in the diversion of large amounts of water from the Amu Darya River.
What was the result of the opening of the Kara Kum Canal?
Reduction in River Volume of the Amu Darya River resulted in the separation of the Aral Sea ubto 2 water bodies - a small aral sea in the north and a large aral sea in tthe south, aswell as increases in salinity
Who is the greatest consumer of fresh water in the Aral Sea basin?
Uzbekestan, they use about 54% of the region's total water resources. , by 1991 - cotton accounted for over 65% of Uzbekestan's GDP and 70% of the total arable land in the Republic was devoted to cotton production
What happened between 1960 - 1990?
The development of irrigation around the Aral Sea increased from 4 million hectares (ha) to 7 million ha whilstthe surface area of the aral sea declined from 70 square metres to 40km. Whilst some economic benefits were seen in the short term, it was realized that at the expense of the environment and long term economic loss of the region
What were some of the economic impacts on the eco-system and people?
Increased use and runoff pesticides and fertilizer resulted in the pollution of surface and groundwater, whilst declining downstream water availability and increased salinity deprived the regions lakes and wetlands of their life source. As a result, the ecosystems of the Amu Darya delta in Uzbekistan and the Syr Darya delta in Kazakhstan have suffered substantial damages.
What ecological impacts occured in the Amu Darya?
In the Amu Darya delta, wetlands that had covered some 550,000 ha in 1960 were reduced by 95% or to in 1990, replaced by sandy deserts, while more
than 50 delta lakes, covering some 60,000 ha, simply dried up
What ecological impacts occured in the Syr Darya?
shrank from about 500 km2 in 1960 to 40 km2 in 19806
what happened to the forests? (What is the special type of forest called?
So-called Tugai forests, which covered about 100,000 hectares in the Amu Darya delta in 1950, were reduced to just 20-30,000 hectares by 1999
What happened to the number of bird and mammals in the river delta?
prior to 1960, there were over 300 species of bird and 70 species of mammal living in the river delta, by 2007 - only 160 and 30 remained
What happened to the number of fish in the river delta?
The number of fish species occurring in the lakes dropped from 32 to 6 due to increased salinity and loss of spawning and feeding grounds
What kind of jobs were lost? How many?
Commercial fisheries that produced some 40,000 metric tons of fish in 1960 were wiped out by the mid-1980s,with the loss of over 60,000 jobs
What happened to the soil?
Poor water management and derelict infrastructure have led to declining soil fertility, including soil erosion, which threatens 19% of irrigated land
What has happened to the climate of the surrounding region because of the climate of the Aral Sea?
has become more continental,with shorter, hotter, drier summers and longer, colder, snowless winters. The growing season has been reduced to an average of 170 days per year, while dust storms occur on average on more than 90 days per year
What has happened to people's life expectancies?
In the last 15 years there has been a 3,000% increase in reported chronic bronchitis and in kidney and liver
diseases, including cancer, while arthritic diseases have increased by 6,000%. The infant mortality rate is among the world's highest and the average life expectancy has decreased from 65 to 61 years
What kind of problem is the Aral Sea? Why?
The case of the Aral Sea can be understood as a creeping environmental problem, where changes accumulate over time, degradation is generally imperceptible and the full scale of the impact is not recognized until a crisis occurs
What was one of the earliest indicators of the deterioration of the basin?
One early indicator of environmental deterioration in the basin was the decline in cotton yields, due to
water quality and soil problems linked to irrigation
How did Uzbek farmers respond to the soil degradation and why was this a problem?
actually increased the volumes of water they consumed, by 'flushing' their fields with irrigation water in order to wash away excess salt. This practice now threatens the very survival of Uzbek agricultural production, especially cotton, as rising salt levels kill or retard the growth of natural vegetation and crops
Unsustainable irrigation practices, resulting in
water-logging, increased soil salinity and lower yields, have reduced the value of crop production by about
US$ 1.4 billion per year or approximately one-third of the value of potential output
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