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Lying between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south, Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth largest lake, and contained 10 grams of salt per liter.

Aral Sea’s water level was systematically and drastically reduced since the 1960s due to decreasing water flow into the sea. By 1997, it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes.

Now, a recent research by scientists from Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences predicted that the remaining southeastern part of the Aral Sea may entirely dry up by 2025.

Water surface of the Aral Sea has shrunk by more than 66%, their long term Landsat imagery analysis showed. Judging from extrapolating current trends in the last four decades, southeastern part of the Aral Sea will disappear completely in seven years.

Dry-up of the Sea left large areas of lake bed exposed to wind erosion and salinization. “The human-induced desiccation of the Aral Sea has generated large amounts of salt dust and has been posing great threat to local ecological environment and human health,” said Jilili Abuduwaili, leading researcher from XIEG.

Projected land cover for 2025 revealed more serious desertification of the landscape with potential expansion in the salt soils and bare area, according to researchers.

Their study was published on International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology entitled “Remote sensing-based land surface change identification and prediction in the Aral Sea bed, Central Asia”.

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