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Aralkum with the remaining areas of the Aral Sea in 2008
Countries Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Animated map of the shrinking of the Aral Sea, and growing Aralkum

Aralkum is the name given to the new desert that has appeared on the seabed once occupied by the Aral Sea.[1] It lies to the south and east of what remains of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.



Although the level of the Aral Sea has fluctuated over its existence, the most recent level drop was caused by the former Soviet Union building massive irrigation projects in the region. The consequent severely reduced inflow subsequently caused the water level in the Aral Sea to drop. Although the North Aral Sea is presently rising, the South Aral Sea is still dropping, thus expanding the size of the desert.

Geological makeup

The bed of the former Aral Sea in Uzbekistan in 2004

The sands of the Aralkum are made up of a salt-marsh consisting of finely-dispersed sea depositions and remnants of mineral deposits, washed away from irrigated fields. The dusts which originate from it contain pollutants. The desert's location on a powerful east-west airstream has resulted in pesticides in the dust being found in the blood of penguins in Antarctica. Aral dust has also been found in the glaciers of Greenland, the forests of Norway, and the fields of Russia.

See also


  1. ^ Aral Sea State of Environment of the Aral Sea Basin. Regional report of the Central Asian States. (2000)

External links

Coordinates: 44°40′N 60°40′E / 44.667°N 60.667°E / 44.667; 60.667



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