Study: Earth's 4th largest lake shrinking

April 17, 2007

British scientists have determined the Aral Sea is drying so rapidly it has shrunk by two-thirds in fewer than 50 years.

The University College London study shows the shrinkage has left two separate lakes where the world's fourth largest lake once existed. And researchers say humans -- including Genghis Khan and the White Huns -- have negatively affected the lake's fortunes for centuries.

Patrick Austin and Anson Mackay of the college's Environmental Change Research Center deduced changes in the Central Asian lake by investigating changes in fossils and the chemical makeup of the water.

They determined the current regression is largely due to the diversion of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya -- one of the irrigation strategies of the former Soviet Union that has led to the loss of 90 percent of the lake's fish species and more than 250 species of plankton.

The study, conducted with colleagues from Kazan State University and the University of Nottingham, appears in this month's issue of the journal Quaternary Research.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Eastern basin of the South Aral Sea completely dry for the first time in modern history

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Quantifying the impact of volcanic eruptions on climate

August 31, 2015

Large volcanic eruptions inject considerable amounts of sulphur in the stratosphere which, once converted into aerosols, block sun rays and tend to cool the surface of the Earth down for several years. An international team ...

Climate ups odds of 'grey swan' superstorms

August 31, 2015

Climate change will boost the odds up to 14-fold for extremely rare, hard-to-predict tropical cyclones for parts of Australia, the United States and Dubai by 2100, researchers said Monday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.