July 16, 2012 / Nature / 0 comments
Yes, this dessert with its multitude of shipwrecks used to be the Aral Sea, full of aquatic animals and ships taking cargos to different destinations. The Soviet Union began to use the waters in irrigation projects until it was all gone, leaving just the blowing sands and shipwrecks. Although irrigation made the desert bloom, it devastated the Aral Sea. As the lake dried up, fisheries and the communities that depended on them collapsed. The increasingly salty water became polluted with fertilizer and pesticides. The blowing dust from the exposed lakebed, contaminated with agricultural chemicals, became a public health hazard. The salty dust blew off the lakebed and settled onto fields, degrading the soil. Croplands had to be flushed with larger and larger volumes of river water. The loss of the moderating influence of such a large body of water made winters colder and summers hotter and drier.