Aral Sea

Aral Sea
  • Credit:

    Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

This series of true-color MODIS image features the shrinking Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Aral Sea has been shrinking since the 1970s when the two main rivers that feed it - the Amudar’ya and the Syrdar’ya - were diverted to support agricultural endeavors - mainly rice and cotton. The Vozrozhdeniye peninsula in the middle of the Sea (which is actually a lake) was once an island separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of water.

The larger, eastern, portion of the Sea appears a cloudy beige-green because of sunlight reflecting off of silt and other particles in the shallow waters. The western portion of the Sea also features some sediment in its deeper waters, though not as much. The Syrdar’ya River empties into agricultural land in the northeast, while the Amudar’ya flows in the south. Also visible are four fires (marked in red) along the plains of the Amudar’ya. These images were acquired July 10 and 12, and September 17 and 19, 2002.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    September 17, 2002
  • Visualization Date:

    October 10, 2002
  • Sensor(s):

    Aqua - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration