MASSIMO BREGA / EURELIOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MASSIMO BREGA / EURELIOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Drying of the Aral Sea. Aerial photograph of the former port of Muynak, Uzbekistan. This port used to be on the shores of the Aral Sea, in Central Asia. The Aral Sea was once one of the world's largest inland seas, but canals dug by the Soviet Union in the 1930s diverted the sea's major rivers to irrigate cotton fields. From the 1960s, the sea started to shrink, and by 2004 some 75 percent of the sea's area had been lost. The shoreline has receded by over 100 kilometres, leaving the inhabitants of former fishing ports to survive on herding animals in a dry, arid landscape. The salinity of the Aral Sea has tripled, the land is contaminated with salt and agricultural chemicals, the seasons are harder, and the old fauna and flora is disappearing.
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