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The Aral Sea pp 361-380 | Cite as

Efforts to Revive the Aral Sea

Chapter
Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH, volume 10178)

Abstract

The Aral Sea between 1960 and 2012 lost 85 % of its area and 92 % of its volume, while separating into four residual lakes. The Large Aral on the south endured a level drop of 25 m and rise of salinity from 10 g/l to well over 100 g/l. Over this period, the sea suffered immense ecological and economic damage including the destruction of its valuable fishery and degradation of the deltas of its two influent rivers. Nevertheless, in spite of this calamity, and contrary to reports that the sea is a lost cause (popular reports that the sea will “disappear” are simply false), hope has remained that the sea and its deltas could be partially rehabilitated. Various restoration scenarios are discussed. Full revitalization of the sea in the foreseeable future is extremely improbable, but cannot be ruled out for distant times. The project implemented in the first decade of the present century to partially restore the Small (northern) Aral Sea so far has been eminently successful. Partial restoration of the Large (southern) Aral is more problematic as it would be more costly and complicated than the north Aral project. Nevertheless, it is certainly worthy of further investigation. Projects to improve the deltas of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya are also underway. The interested reader should also see  Chap. 14 which analyses the potential for biological rehabilitation of the Aral and  Chap. 16 focusing on the grandiose Siberian water transfer schemes developed during the Soviet era to radically improve the water balance of the Aral Sea Basin.

Keywords

Small Aral Large Aral Amu Darya Delta Syr Darya Delta Western Basin Eastern Basin Siberian diversion Tshche-bas Saryshaganak 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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