Monitoring of the drained bottom of the Aral Sea

Monitoring of the drained bottom of the Aral Sea

April 22, 2021

In 2019-2020 UNDP has supported the two expeditions of the Scientific Information Center of the Interstate Commission for Water Management of Central Asia (SIC ICWC) on the drained bottom of the Aral Sea.

Desiccation of the Aral Sea brought to appearance of the Aralkum salt desert on the site of a drained bottom with an area of about 5 million hectares, 2.7 million hectares of which are located in Uzbekistan. This territory with an unstable ecological system poses a threat to both the environment and the health of the local population. Mitigating the negative consequences of the drying up of the Aral Sea, improving the conditions and quality of life for the local population are defined as the priority areas of the State Programme for the Development of the Aral Sea Region for 2017-2021. It is necessary to have a complete understanding of the current state of the ecological disaster zone, the changes taking place there in order to create a basis for the implementation of the Programme. For this purpose, monitoring of the drained bottom was initiated, where, in addition to natural processes, intense anthropogenic pressure takes place.

Representatives of the International Innovation Center for the Aral Sea Basin under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as a number of specialists in the field of ecology, soil science, hydrogeology, dendrology, botany and GIS were involved in the both SIC ICWC expeditions organized within the framework of the joint UNDP-UNESCO project "Addressing the urgent human insecurities in the Aral Sea region through promoting sustainable rural development", funded by the MPHSTF for the Aral Sea region in Uzbekistan. The total coverage of the study area was 1.2 million hectares, from Chink to the Akpetka Island system, and from the water's edge to the historical sea level.

Monitoring and analysis of the dried seabed soil are presented in this publication.