by Aileen Graef
Astana, Kazakhstan (UPI) Sep 30, 2014
New photos from NASA are showing the Aral Sea as just a sliver with the entire basin diminished as a result of a Soviet-era irrigation diversion project.
The draining of the Aral Sea began in the 1960s when the Soviet Union began a project to divert the two major rivers that flowed into the basin, the Syr Darya and Amu Darya, to irrigate the deserts of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The project successfully let farms and crops flourish in the arid terrain but sacrificed the Aral Sea.
A new series of photos from NASA show the devastation done to what was once the fourth largest lake in the world from 2000 to 2014 and compare them to the original size in 1960 -- marked by a black outline.
According to NASA's Earth Observatory, Kazakhstan built a dam in 2005 to separate the northern and southern parts of the sea to save it at least partially. It killed the southern sea, draining the basin. The dam has caused parts of the lake to rebound, but the results have been minimal.
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