Large-scale desiccation of the Aral Sea due to over-exploitation after 1960
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The Aral Sea was one of the largest lakes in the world before it started to shrink in the 1960s due to water withdrawal for agricultural irrigation. Precipitation decreased from 9.4 km3 in 1960 to 3.2 km3 in 2009, and annual river inflow into the Aral Sea decreased from 31.5 km3 in 1998 to 5.2 km3 in 2009. Comparison on the hydrological data of the Aral Sea between 1960 and 2009 showed the evaporation, water surface area, and water volume decreased by 90%, 80%, and 88%, respectively. This study employs the observed values of water volume, precipitation, runoff, evaporation, and salinity to estimate water volume and salinity from 1960 to 2009, and the efficiency coefficients for predicted water volume and salinity are 0.975 and 0.974, respectively. Regression equations calculated from the observed data are used to predict precipitation, runoff, evaporation, and salinity from 2010 to 2021, and the results are then applied in the estimation of water volume and salinity. Our estimates suggest that salinity will increase to around 200 g/L and water volume will decrease to around 83 km3 in 2021.
KeywordsAral Sea Irrigation Water volume Salinity Evaporation
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