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Aral Sea Looks Like an Abstract Painting from Space

Aral sea from space

Image credit: Copernicus data (2014/2015)/ESA. A combination of three radar scans from Sentinel-1A.

This amazing satellite image of the Aral Sea distorts the destruction it demonstrates. As the fourth biggest inland body of water in the world before, it now has lost more than ninety percent of its water volume in the past five decades, because the irrigation projects have already destroyed fishing industry in this area and left remarkably negative impact on local economy.

Based on the data from National Geographic, the Aral Sea used to cover the area of 26,000 square miles (67,300 square kilometers), enabling it to provide the Soviet Union with a sixth of its fish catch. However it was in the 1960s that great changes had taken place, when 20,000 miles of canals, a couple of dams, and around 80 reservoirs were built for irrigation of huge fields growing cotton and wheat.

To be contrary to expectation, the system was not efficient with existing leakage. As the European Space Agency (ESA) disclosed, millions of fish died and local people were distressed by severe sandstorms filled with chemicals from former weapons testing, industrial projects as well as fertilizer runoff.

The satellite image is composed of three radar scans from Sentinel-1A. The colors are each assigned a date. Colors other than those listed below stand for changes between the acquisitions.

Red: October 17, 2014

Green: December 28, 2014

Blue: February 14, 2015

In the description of ESA, in the lower right, the red, yellow and green boomerang shape reveals where water is flowing into the dry seabed from a river, and colors demonstrate the way in which the region were covered in water increased over time. Along the left side of the image, the large dark area represents the area where water is now at the moment. Colors along the water’s edge demonstrate water-level changes between acquisitions. Red reveal a lower level than blue, so it is obvious that the water level was lower on 17 October 2014 than on 14 February 2015.”

The picture below illustrates the desiccation of the Aral Sea. These images were captured from 2000 to 2014.



Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Source: Live Science

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