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Day 14 – Q 2.Examine the factors leading to the drying up of the Aral sea. Can you cite some other examples of water bodies being dried up? Why is this happening? Discuss.

2. Examine the factors leading to the drying up of the Aral sea. Can you cite some other examples of water bodies being dried up? Why is this happening? Discuss. 

अराल समुद्र के सुखने के प्रमुख कारकों की जांच करें। क्या आप सूखे जा रहे जल निकायों के कुछ अन्य उदाहरण बता सकते हैं? ऐसा क्यों हो रहा है? चर्चा करें।


The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world and it produced thousands of tons of fish for the local economy annually. Since the 1960s, however, the Aral Sea has been sinking. In the early 1900s, it was providing a wealth of important ecosystem services to communities, including fishing stocks and preservation of surrounding water and soil quality.

Factors lead to drying up of Aral Sea:

  • In the 1920s, the Soviet Union turned lands of the Uzbek SSR into cotton plantations and ordered the construction of irrigation canals to provide water to the crops in the middle of the plateau of the region.
  • These hand-dug, irrigation canals moved water from the Anu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, which were the rivers that fed the freshwater Aral Sea.
  • Climate change and human activity are threatening the existence of some of the world’s largest lakes.
  • The Soviet Union regarded the cotton crops as far more valuable than the Aral Sea fishing economy, which had once been the backbone of the regional economy.

Other lakes which are drying up around the world:

According to the World Preservation Foundation one third of the world’s major rivers and lakes are drying up, and the groundwater wells for 3 billion people are being affected.

  • Poopó, once Bolivia’s second largest lake, which has vanished into the thin air of the Andean highlands.
  • In eastern China’s Lake Tai,
  • East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika
  • After the Caspian Sea, Iran’s Lake Urmia was once the largest saltwater lake in the Middle East.
  • Great salt lake

Reasons for lakes being drying up:

  • Climate change has intensified droughts and elevated hot summer temperatures around Urmia, speeding up evaporation.
  • Illegal wells and a proliferation of dams and irrigate on projects that divert water from tributary rivers for agriculture.
  • Mining is another problem, which can be witnessed in Poppo Lake of Bolivia.
  • Indifference to government is one of the culpability in the crisis, pointing to natural cycles of drying and recovery.

Impact of lakes being dried up:

The loss of rivers, lakes and underground water reserves are impacting the livelihoods of millions of people, hitting animals, farming and electricity production, as well as threatening to exacerbate climate change further through the release of CO2 and methane. While climate change is playing a role, the building of dams, over extraction and mismanagement of water and over-fishing are all playing a part in the disappearing of the world’s lakes and rivers.

For e.g. more than 60 million people live around the Aral Sea basin. The lack of water has devastated the region’s fishing industry, leaving ship graveyards as well as large areas of salted sand, which is easily kicked up by winds and contributes to health problems.

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