03 March 2009

Is This the Next Aral Sea?

Ever heard of Lake Balkhash? Me neither. But now might be a good time to get to know it - before it disappears like the Aral Sea:

Lake Balkhash lies in Central Asia, and is the largest body of water after the Caspian Sea, recently earning this status with the demise of the Aral Sea. Both the Aral and Balkhash lie locked in desert and semi-desert regions with little rainfall, fed largely by rivers running through heavily irrigated, arid regions. They are bodies of water with historically dynamic shorelines, vulnerable to a wide variety of actors in the region. comparative surface areas of central asian bodies of waterThe similarity of Balkhash and Aral suggests that a closer analysis of the cautionary tale presented by the disappearance of the Aral can give some indications as to the future of Balkhash. Being prey to many of the same factors that caused the desiccation of the Aral Sea, Lake Balkhash may soon suffer a similar fate. The permanent representative of the United Nations Development Program in Kazakhstan stated “…Lake Balkhash could meet a fate similar to the Aral Sea.”

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