Aral Sea, astronaut photograph. View of the Aral Sea (centre) taken from the space shuttle Atlantis during the STS-106 mission. This inland lake is found between Uzbekistan (west) and Kazakhstan (east) and used to be the fourth largest lake in the world. Since the 1960s it has lost more than half of its volume. This is due to overuse of the feeder rivers (the Syr Darya and Amu Darya) in irrigation of cotton and paddy fields, and a severe drought that lasted from 2006 to 2009. In 2014, for the first time, the sea's eastern basin was completely dry. Photographed in September 2000.
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