Above and Beyond: The Aral Sea

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A series of aerial views shows the disappearance of the Aral Sea.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory.

All images, illustrations, and videos courtesy of NASA except:
·       Dinosaur illustration courtesy of Mariana Ruiz Villarreal
·       Sea creature illustration copyright The National Library of Israel, Shapell Family Digitization Project _and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Geography – Historic Cities Research Project
·       Waterfall photos courtesy of Wikimedia users Karduelis and MattiPaavola
·       Molecule illustration by Marc Lussier (STScI) based on illustration by Luis Javier Rodriguez Lopez
·       Photo of water droplets on leaf courtesy of Thomas Bresson
·       Photo of ocean waves courtesy of Sean O’Flaherty
·       Photo of beach on the Pacific Ocean courtesy of Wikimedia user Marlith
·       “All the Water on Earth” animation by Jack Cook, copyright Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
·       Photo of artesian spring courtesy of Marc Averette
·       Photo of Santa Lucia Cloud Forest in Ecuador courtesy of Hettie van Nes
·       Photo of red panda courtesy of Jennifer Dunne
·       Photo of Graylag goose courtesy of David Graus
·       Photo of pail of dirty water copyright Pierre Holtz, UNICEF
·       Photo of bottled water on store shelf courtesy of Ivy Main
·       Photo of water park courtesy of Wikimedia user Stu pendousmat
·       Photo of pivot irrigation system courtesy of Gene Alexander, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
·       Photo of Arizona golf course courtesy of Bernard Gagnon
·       Panoramic photo of Glen Canyon Dam courtesy of Christian Mehlführer
·       Photo of man at terminus of Colorado River copyright Peter McBride, The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict
·       Photo of dry riverbed of Colorado River copyright Peter McBride, The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict
·       Photo of boy drinking from well courtesy of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Kreps
·       Photos of artesian wells courtesy of Michael Gäbler, Père Igor, and Wikimedia user Nikater
·       Photos of a spring in Indiana courtesy of Huw Williams
·       U.S. groundwater map created by Chris Poulsen, National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, _based on data from Matt Rodell, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and the GRACE science team
Music courtesy of Associated Production Music
Written by Tracy Vogel
Designed by Marc Lussier

Text, Aral Sea, Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan, 1992. An aerial view of a large lake.
The Aral Sea in Central Asia was once the fourth-largest lake in the world.
In the 1960s, the Soviet Union diverted water from the lake's two main rivers to irrigate fields.
An aerial view of a smaller lake in 2000. Text, the lake never recovered from the projects.
The lake grows smaller from 2001 to 2003. Text, as it dried, fisheries and the communities that depended on them collapsed.
The lake continues to grow smaller from 2004 to 2007.
Text, the lake's water became increasingly salty and polluted with fertilizer and pesticides.
White edges form around the shrinking lake by 2008. Text, Salty dust from the lake damaged nearby soil.
Most of the water dries up by 2009. Text, As the water vanished, local winters became colder and summers hotter and drier.
Water appears again in the lake in 2010. Text, Water returns briefly at times, but soon takes up its disappearing act again.
The lake continues to shift in amount of water from 2011 to 2016.