Central Asia's Aral Sea has been drained of its lifeblood water to slake our thirst. Photo: NASA
Formerly the world's fourth largest lake, the Aral Sea in central Asia has become a dustbowl of its former self after more than 40 years of irrigation that has sucked water from the rivers that feed it. These upstream diversions irrigate cotton and other farms in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan in central Asia, arid countries surrounding the Aral Sea that use more water per person than any other nations on earth.
The August 2009 image above from NASA Earth Observatory highlights the Aral Sea's former shorelines and the few areas on its western and northern shores where water remains. A 10-year sequence of the lake's deteriorating condition also has been posted.
Shoreline of desiccated Aral Sea in Uzbekistan, Sept. 5, 2009. Photo: kvitlauk/flickr