What will be the future of the Aral Sea: The changing distribution of the water resources and the establishment of huge irrigation systems in Central Asia by the former Soviet Union are the main reasons that the Aral Sea is running dry. Once it was the fourth largest inland lake on the globe, but since 1960 almost 90% of the water body and more than 70% of the surface area have disappeared. Today, the Aral Sea exists only in the form of remnants: the Small Aral Sea in the north (Kazakhstan) and a salt lake (the rest of the Large Aral Sea) in the south-west. The huge, but very flat south-eastern basin will continuously run dry. The Small Aral Sea in the north has a good perspective. Its future surface area will be about 4,000 km2 and the salinity about 1.5–2.5% after the planned dam east of Kokaral was erected. On the dry sea floor (new Aralkum desert) salt and sand deserts have developed, being the source of salt- and sand-dust-storms. The situation of the environment, the threatened land-use in the whole area and the worsening health-situation is alarming. Necessary counter-measures to prevent further environmental degradation (in terms of the UNCCD-Convention) in the region of the whole Aral Sea basin are urgently needed (BRECKLE & WUCHERER 2005).
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