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THE PROBLEM OF THE ARAL SEA IS A GLOBAL PROBLEM

The primary effect of the Aral Sea desiccation has been significant loss of water in the sea. The water level has dropped about 23 meters since onset of its primary sources of water being diverted. Although the water level has fluctuated up to a few meters in the past due to natural variability in the water flow from the rivers, by 1970, the water loss exceeded in the past.

The water budget is determined by several components: inflow from the river, evaporation, precipitation rates, and groundwater inflow. Net evaporation is defined as the difference between evaporation and precipitation at the surface.

In the first desiccation period, water level dropped by about 21cm/year. In the next decade, water level decreased by 57cm/year, and afterwards the drop in water level started accelerating faster. As lake loses water, it becomes shallower. The incoming solar radiation for a given square area now has to heat up a smaller volume of water, thus the water lowers the specific humidity at the surface, which further increases the rate of evaporation, thus eating a positive feedback loop.

After 1990 the rate of water loss has been slowly decreasing. There are negative feedback systems that could have slowed down the loss of water in the region. First, is that as the sea surface area decreases, so does evaporation, which slows down the desiccation process. Another negative feedback is due to increased salinity- as salinity increases, the evaporation also goes down, which partially offsets the positive feedback of water loss. Overall, the presence of both positive and negative feedback systems influences the rate of water loss in the area.

The primary effect of the Aral Sea desiccation has been the significant loss of water in the sea. The water level has dropped approximately 23 meters since the onset of its primary sources of water being diverted. Although the water level has fluctuated up to a few meters in the past due to natural variability in the water flow from the rivers, by 1970, the water loss exceeded the limit of natural water level variation that has occurred in the past.          

The water budget is determined by several components: Inflow from the river, evaporation, precipitation rates, and groundwater inflow. Net evaporation is defined as the difference between evaporation and precipitation at the surface. The river inflow has been rapidly decreasing since 1960. Net evaporation has also decree

This obvious correlation explains how the diminishing level of water creates more salinity, as a given amount of salt gets diluted into a smaller volume. The diminishing level of the Aral Sea has therefore caused the steep rise in salinity. Considering this fact, and based on changes over the last 40 years, we can predict that melting glaciers, growth population, and an increasing trend of water usage will lead to less water flowing into the Aral and thus to an increase in salinity seed, but at a slower rate while the groundwater inflow has remained approximately the same. As a result, there was a net deficit of water to the sea. The figure below shows the components of water balance that resulted in the net deficit of incoming water flow.

(Photo by uzssgzt.uz)
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