The situation of the Aral Sea is known as one of the worst man-made environmental crises of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Many have seen the satellite photos evidencing the startling shrinkage and deterioration of the sea, as it was a few decades ago and how it appears today. Whereas the Aral Sea was the world's fourth-largest inland body of water in 1960, it has now shrunk to a small fraction of that within three increasingly saline and polluted parts, primarily due to the diversion of waters for agricultural irrigation. The Aral Sea Encyclopedia is devoted to the remarkable phenomenon of the possibility of Aral Sea's imminent disappearance from the Earth in the time span of a single human generation.
It first describes the sea before it started drying-out, and then the actions and efforts of the Central Asian countries, as well as the international community, to mitigate the socioeconomic and environmental hazards caused by this desiccation and increasing salinity. This comprehensive reference not only addresses the key environmental issues and presents national and international programs. It also documents the history of the related research studies, the involvement of prominent historical figures, and the chronology of events over three centuries, which became the milestones in the economic development of the Aral Sea and its subsequent diminution.
From the reviews: "The Aral was something between a sea and a lake: a large inland body of salty water surrounded by semi-desert, fed by two great rivers ! . Now, in some seasons, the two rivers do not even reach the Aral ! . As a result the Aral is now a shrinking collection of shallow saline lakes, interspersed with dry salt pans. ! University libraries catering for academic programmes in environmental sciences, geography or East European/Central Asian studies may find it worth acquiring this ! ." (Martin Guha, Reference Reviews, Vol. 23 (6), 2009) "This encyclopedia documents the environmental devastation of Central Asia's Aral Sea region. Contributors have synthesized the principal research about the Aral Sea, chronicling the events and actors involved in its dramatic decline. Most entries provide a succinct, clearly written narrative; some include black-and-white photographs, diagrams, or maps. ! Included is a time line of Aral Sea events from the 16th to 21st centuries. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers." (G. P. Clement, Choice, Vol. 47 (2), October, 2009)
Introduction.- A - Z.- List of geographical and hydrographical features extinct as a result of the Aral Sea desiccation.- References.
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