The News Minute| October 2, 2014| 8.30 pm IST
Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world... now stands almost dry. Located between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south, the lake has now almost completely dried up, according to NASA.
Experts say that in the 1900s the sea was the fourth largest in the world, and that it was formed 5.5 million years ago.
A series of images released by NASA’s Terra satellite shows that this giant water body has now shrunk so much that no water is visible at all. The satellite began capturing these images back in 2000, but by then the lake had already shrunk to half its size, NASA says.
News reports say that a massive water diversion project that was started off by the Soviet Union back in the 1960s led to this disaster. The National Geographic reports that the lake has been surrounded by 'prosperous towns and supported a lucrative muskrat pelt industry and thriving fishery, providing 40,000 jobs and supplying the Soviet Union with a sixth of its fish catch'.
The population near the lake also went up to 60 million, ever since the diversion project came into effect, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
A dam was built in 2005 by Kazhakhstan, but it only made things worse for the dam, a Fox News report says.
NASA has reportedly said that this is happening due to the low snow pack in the nearby mountains that feed the lake. Some experts have predicted that the lake is likely to disappear by 2020.