September 25, 2004
On September 22, 2004, the Aqua MODIS instrument acquired this image of the ever-shrinking Aral Sea. What was once the world's fourth largest inland sea, Aral straddles Kazakhstan and northern Uzbekistan, and is slowly fading into the surrounding central Asian deserts. The sea has been shrinking since the 1990s. Every year about 60 square kilometeres of water are lost to evaporation. Further, agricultural needs along the Syr Darya and Amu Darya have claimed almost all the Sea's incoming water for the past four decades. By the year 2000, over 42,000 square kilometers of land had been exposed by the receding water levels.