Thursday, January 31, 2008

Map of the Week 110 - Sea Change

Promotional materials for the upcoming 12th edition of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World include these maps of the Aral Sea. The first one is from the 1967 edition of this atlas.

The second map from the new edition (2007) shows how much the sea has shrunk since then due to water extraction and climate change. The Russian government diverted the main rivers that feed it (the Amu Darya and Syr Darya) for irrigation. Now Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have inherited a salty, polluted mess. But there may be oil and gas underneath so all's not lost.

Oh and you're supposed to admire the nice Bartholomew cartography too!


DrSchnell said...

For more Aral-Sea-related craziness, do a Google image search on "Aral Sea Fishing Boats" to see some images of stranded tankers and fishing boats left behind when the water vanished.

Michael5000 said...

And if that's not enough fun, you could always look up (for instance) an article in The European Journal of Public Health with the bracingly frank title "Safe water for the Aral Sea Area: Could it get any worse?"

When an academic writes "Attempts at sustainable provision of palatable drinking water in low chemical and microbial contaminants for the 4 million people in the two countries around the Aral littoral have been largely unsuccessful," it's time to scratch the area off your list of potential places to retire to.

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