Aral Sea Has Partially Healed

August 25, 2008 / No Comments

For the last few decades, the Aral Sea in Central Asia suffered of what the Russians did, back in the 50s. They diverted the two tributary rivers into irrigation for cotton and rice crops and caused what scientists called an irreversible environmental disaster.

aral sea satellite view Aral Sea Has Partially Healed
Aral Sea Nowdays (Google Maps)

The smaller bodies of water became much saltier destroying the fishing industry leaving only one single species of fish and also affecting the local weather.

But call it a miracle or whatever you like, nature knows how to heals itself when we stop harming her. It’s a real example for future ecological recovery and reversal projects. In 1990 the World Bank financed a project that involved several actions to reduce the damage of which the most important was the Kok-Aral Dam.

aral sea 1964 Aral Sea Has Partially Healed
Aral Sea in 1964 – things looked better at the time

Aral Sea - 1997
Aral Sea in 1997 – the ecological disaster became worse and worse

The project was finished in 2005 and just one year later an article in the New York Times mentioned:

In dozens of villages in the region, frigid green water now laps against long-abandoned harbors, and fishing vessels retrieved from open-air desert graves have been put back to sea.

The Aral Sea, which was once drained of 75 percent of its water, has this year taken on millions of cubic feet of new water years ahead of schedule, surpassing even the sunniest predictions made when a new dam was completed last summer.

Though it’s a miracle it’s not complete. Things are starting to look better only in the Northern Aral Sea, because the South is still both highly polluted and salty. Another critical example is the port of Aralsk that is still stranded 25km above the shoreline.

Seeing how things got better in the North, there is hope, though. It’s all in our power to change the world we live in.

Satellite images courtesy of EarthShots