Aral Sea: the death of a unique reservoir
The Aral Sea can serve as a monument to the irresponsible management of man and a symbol of his consumer attitude to nature. Destroy the whole huge water basin - the history of our civilization was so rich in events! However, first things first. The Aral Sea is a drainless salted sea-lake located between two Central Asian republics - Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Even in the fifties, the area of this unique reservoir was 68 thousand km2, and already by 1990, it was reduced to 36.5 thousand. Until quite recently, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest indoor water basin of our planet. And the greatest depth of the Aral Sea was 54.5 m. This sea-lake has over three hundred islands, the largest of which are Barsakelmes and the Renaissance. Most recently, the length of the Aral Sea was equal to 428 km, and the width was 283 km.In the past half century, the ecological situation in the Aral Sea has deteriorated sharply. Now it has disintegrated into two isolated and strongly shallowed reservoirs, called the Big and Small Aral.
In the middle of the Cenozoic geological epoch (about 20 million years ago), the Aral Sea was connected to the Caspian, forming a single water basin with it. An interesting fact is that ancient burial places were found at the bottom of the Aral Sea, which scientists date back to the first millennium BC. Based on this, experts concluded that the cyclical nature of the fluctuations in the water level. At the bottom of this unique reservoir, a mausoleum was even discovered, the estimated date of construction of which is about six hundred years ago. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the next lowering of the water level began, due to which some islands were formed, and many river arteries ceased to flow into the Aral. But these were quite natural changes that could not cause the problems of the Aral Sea. It continued to remain a large and affluent salt water body with a rich ecosystem. Here at that time was developed quite intensive shipping.There was even an Aral military imperial flotilla, whose ships with gunfire reminded the locals that they were subjects of the Russian crown. Also in the waters of this unique sea-lake was a lively research activity.
The tragedy of the perishing sea
The construction of the Central Asian irrigation canals necessary for the reclamation of vast cotton plantations, which form the basis of the economy of this region, became a disturbing signal and a harbinger of a future ecological catastrophe. The popular enthusiasm that flared up in the thirties of the last century marked the beginning of the tragedy of the Aral Sea. But for another thirty years this salt water reservoir remained in relative safety, the water level in it remained unchanged. It was not until the beginning of the sixties that the contours of the disaster began to emerge clearly. The environmental problems of the Aral Sea began in 1961, when the water level dropped by twenty centimeters, and by 1963, this figure had fallen by another eighty. By the beginning of the nineties, the area of the reservoir was greatly reduced, and the salinity of the water increased three times.All this has a negative impact on the local ecosystem. At all times, the Aral Sea flourished fishing. Fish factories and canning factories functioned around the coast around the clock. Nowadays there is practically no fishing in the Aral Sea.
Causes of disaster
Most experts see the main cause of the tragedy of the Aral Sea in the improper distribution of water resources of the main power sources of this reservoir - the Amudarya and Syrdarya. If they previously supplied the Aral 60 km3water annually, now this figure is five. As a result, global climate changes are observed in the Aral Sea region. This unique sea served as a natural regulator of the climate of the whole region. Thanks to the water masses of the Aral Sea, the harsh Siberian air currents softened, the summer temperature dropped to a comfortable level. Now, powerful winds blowing from the north raise thousands of tons of fine dust from the exposed bottom, which includes salts, various chemicals and toxic substances. All this, rising to the upper layers of the atmosphere, falls as precipitation on the heads of careless Europeans. Thus, it is appropriate to talk about the fact that the tragedy of the Aral Sea has long gone beyond the region and acquired the scale of a global catastrophe.