Christopher Robertson

Christopher Robertson is a student at Hunter College majoring in Environmental Studies with as focus on policy as it pertains to sustainability in urban areas of developed countries.

Aral Sea Catastrophe

Abstract

The Aral Sea was once one of the largest terminal lakes located in Central Asia. Its most recent desiccation began in the 1960s due to the expansion of irrigation the caused the draining of its two tributary rivers. The lake level has fallen 23m, area has decreased 74%, volume reduced 90%, and salinity increased from 10 to more than 100g/l, all of which have caused adverse ecological changes including the decimation of aquatic species, initiation of dust/salt storms, degradation of deltaic biomes, climate change around its former shoreline, and severe health and economic impacts for local populations. It is vital to repair and preserve what remains of the deltas and two tributary rivers, Syr Darya and Amu Darya, not only for their ecological and economic value but also for the health and well being of the populations in its vicinity. Restoration to portions of lake has seen dramatic improvements and may provide a framework for minimizing trans boundary pollution issues.

Key words: Amu Darya; Syr Darya; Aral Sea; Central Asia; irrigation; salinity; Karakalpakstan; pesticides; toxic dust; restoration

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