The Aral used to be the 4th largest inland freshwater sea.

Both images show extensive irrigated cropland, and the river seems to be at full bank. Canals can be seen stretching across the region, along with several pools of stored water. There is still plenty of water in the rivers that feed the Aral, it’s just being used before it can get there.

Aug. 22, 1964, ARGON KH-5 9066A — North Aral Sea

Sep. 1, 2, 3, 22, 1977, Landsat 2 (path/row 172–175/27–30) — North Aral Sea

Aral Sea Disaster - KazakhstanDiscovery

A dam can be seen as early as the 1998 image. It’s the straight angled lines on the southernmost part of the North Aral. This earthen dike was built in 1992 and later replaced by a concrete dam in 2005. At times, water from the North Aral is allowed to flow southward into the South Aral through the dam in the Berg Strait.

Aral Sea Disaster – cause and effect | All that is Manfred

We see a lot of change with the 40+ years of Landsat imagery, along with the historical aerial imagery in the archives at EROS. The drying of the Aral Sea is likely the most dramatic change occurring over the past several decades in this imagery.

Aug. 10, 19, 28; Sep. 27, 1987, Landsat 5 (path/row 160–162/27–30) — North Aral Sea

Nature–society linkages in the Aral Sea region - …

Other international agencies contributing to the restoration effort include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who funded the Environmental Policy and Technology (EPT) project from 1993-1998, which improved drinking water supplies in the river deltas and helped develop regional water management policies and agreements. USAID also initiated a new program in 2001 called the National Resource Management Project (NRMP), a 5 year effort focused on providing assistance to the region to improve water, energy, and land resource management. The European Union initiated a major aid program in 1995 called the Water Resources Management and Agricultural Production in the Central Asian Republics Project (WARMAP) who provided a GIS-based land and water database for the basin for the World Bank and ICAS. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has aided in supporting regional organizations that deal with the crisis and promote sustainable development to those adjacent to the sea. The UNDP was also instrumental in convincing the five Central Asian presidents to sing the Declaration of Central Asian State and International Organizations on Sustainable Development of the Aral Sea Basin in 1995, committing the 5 states to pursue sustainable development in the management of land, water, biological resources, and human capital (Micklin, 2007).

Sep. 18, 27; Oct. 27, 1998; Aug. 20, 1999, Landsat 5 (path/row 160–162/27–30) — North Aral Sea

Tuberculosis in the Aral Sea basin, ..

Previously the Tajik officials announced that the dam will use its own quota and the countries of Aral Lake basin are agreed with this. So the neighboring countries wouldn’t be affected by this process according to the announcement. This situation is accepted very serious by Tajikistan who faces power cut frequently during the autumn and winter seasons.

July, 31; Aug. 23, 30; Sep. 1, 2006, Landsat 5 (path/row 160–162/27–30) — North Aral Sea

Across the immediate Aral Sea region today, ..

The salinity of water is determined by the mass of salts dissolved in the water and the water volume. As sea level fell from water loss, the inflow of salts to the sea exceeded the salt discharge thus increasing its salinity. In the first decade of the crisis, the salinity rose by 14%. The result was the decrease in commercial catches from 43,430 tons in 1960 to zero in 1980. From 1960-2004, surface salinity increased from 10ppt in 1960 to 92ppt in 2004. The steep rise in salinity coupled with decreasing sea level is the most damaging to the landscape. (Columbia, 2008) Experts believe the ecological disaster has displaced more than 100,000 people and affected the health of more than 5 million people throughout the region. There has been a dramatic spike in anemia, brucellosis, bronchial asthma, typhoid-at approximately eight times the national average, and in tuberculosis. Today, the infant mortality rate is the highest in the country and acute respiratory diseases account for nearly half of all child deaths in the area. Such illnesses as ischemic heart disease, respiratory, kidney illnesses and illnesses of the nervous system will keep increasing. (Columbia, 2008)

July, 24; Aug. 2, 11, 2010, Landsat 5 (path/row 160–162/27–30) — North Aral Sea

Aral Sea Ecological Disaster - Uzbekistan

Today, the Aral Sea and its tributaries are a fraction of their original size, accompanied by an increase its salinity that had decimated the region’s fishing industry, a mainstay of its local economies. The overuse of pesticides to increase crop yields have both leeched into the soil and merged with the salt of a drying seabed and have led to dramatically worsening health conditions and life expectancy throughout the region (Karakalpakstan in particular). Even further, toxic dust storms only increase the health issues and the boundaries crossed by the pollutants from the region. The response to the crisis has been one of cooperation between the affected regions as well as aid from international agencies with focus on sustainable practices. In this era of globalization, the catastrophe of the Aral may underscore the necessity to identify trans boundary issues so that they can be addressed through regional, national, and international cooperation and, perhaps even more, that the solution to large scale problems can begin with small scale changes.