The Possible End of the Aral Sea

EarthzineOriginal, St. George's School, St. George's School 2013 VPS

Seniors gather to reflect during the kickoff of the ecosystems poster project. Image Credit: Maria Carolina Rojas.

* This project was conducted by high school-aged students at St. George’s School in BogotÌÁ, Colombia, as part of a 2013 literature review project on ecosystems.

Research Question: How has the reduction in the flow of water affected the internal and external ecosystems of the Aral Sea? Especially, how has this affected bentic and plankton species within the lake?

Abstract: This project has directly focused on the reduction of species in the Aral Sea located in Central Asia, south of KazakhstaÌÁn and north of UzbekistaÌÁn. This was caused by the shrinking of the Aral Sea that started in the 1960s when the Soviet government decided to change the course of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers for irrigating cotton and rice crops.

In our research, we found that most of the ecosystem problems in the world are mainly caused by humans. This is also an example that shows how the Aral Sea started to shrink. It can be seen in the satellite images that the Aral Sea has lost almost 90 percent of its area.

Nevertheless, the government apparently never thought about the possibility of damaging a whole ecosystem with this decision. As a result, commercial fishing was eliminated, and the concentration of salts and minerals has risen, killing almost everything within and near the area. A majority of the benthic species has died due to the salinity, and the fish harvest has decreased by 75 percent.

Team members:

Juan Antonio Barragan

Karen Bernal

Laura Copete

Lina Echeverri

Carlos RamÌ_rez

Kevin Smith.