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While Ben Laden is hiding in a cave and Saddam stopped to torture Kurds, this creature is still at large.
In his state, one child of ten is murdered every year, millions are tortured.
Now, his dirty hand is reaching California.

Aral Sea was 450 Km East of Caspian Sea.

In the 19th and 20th century = the 4th largest lake = the 2nd largest salt lake (1960 = 66,000 Km2, average depth = 16 m, maximum depth = 69 m).

Aral international watershed = 700, 000 Km2 (China, Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan).
Main rivers: Amu River and Syr River (=Amu Darya and Syr Darya).
Irrigated fields = 70, 000 Km2.

21st century = Aral Sea split:
North = 3 small lakes, South = 2 larger lakes.
The Aral Salt Lakes (<30,000 Km2) will disappear in 2010 - 2020.

The greatest success of hydrological science

The death of Aral was predicted more than 100 years ago. This forecast was updated after the 1st World War. It was updated again after the 2nd World War. It is the only case of successful, long term, real time hydrological forecast. Usually, hydrologists are very shy to forecast, what will happen next year.

There never was any chance "to save Aral".
The desiccation started 5, 000 – 10, 000 years ago (the end of the last glaciation), population of Central Asia was steadily growing for centuries. The silt of Amu River was always considered better fertilizer, than the famous Nile silt. Irrigation was already quite advanced in 19th century. The 20th century produced the last straw.

Reading popular literature, you can have an impression that the death of Aral Sea is something unusual. In fact, desiccation and desertification is not a sensation. Much greater areas were lost in Africa, Australia, and America. Even in Central Asia, more Km2 has gone bust.

Neither it is a new phenomenon for Aral region. Aral has very complex history. Long time ago it was a part of Ocean, a bay of Caspian Sea. Separated, it became a relic lake (by hydrological classification of lakes). Aral Lake desiccated many times, without any interference of mankind, during dry spells of climate. Recently, the lake revealed a funeral complex (mausoleum). It was >10m under water, yet, it was not properly silted. Why? The archaeologists found that it is only 600 years old.

For some time Aral was a freshwater lake; Amu River and Syr River have been changing their courses; the old channel (Uzboi), that Amu River was using to flow directly to Caspian Sea, is still as good as new; the same channel was used by fresh water, spilling from Aral to Caspian; there are some bones of prehistoric men found; etc.

Why worry?

The main danger of Aral phenomena is not desiccation, but emission of large quantities of deadly substances. E.g. the Aral deposits of DDT are now becoming airborne and spread around the globe.

DDT was a very popular insectide that was used rather generously. It accumulated in farmers’ bodies and produced many troubles in human organism. So what? Farmers are farmers.

Later on, it was found that even Antarctic penguins have dangerous concentration of DDT.
And also prime ministers and presidents.
Then, naturally, DDT was banned.

Now it is released again, and any reader of this paper will have his share of Aral disaster.

Infamous in Vietnam, Agent Orange was used as cotton defoliant. The USSR military tested and dumped all sort of chemical and bacteriological weapons in Aral. The largest deposit of anthrax is on the Renaissance Island (=Ostrov Vozrozhdeniia). In 21st century it became a peninsula; just you wait till it dried up properly and get airborne.

Even more dangerous are forgotten "Andromeda Strains" of the ancient pandemics. Many centuries ago the mankind got immunity against these strains, paying for it very much indeed, by many millions of lives. This insurance lapsed long time ago and now these deadly strains have a second chance.

The tail of this poisonous cloud is growing east:
1980 = Central Asia Capitals: Akmola, Alma-Ata,…
1990 = Cities of Far East: Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, …
2000 = California
Pandora Box is getting airborne.

Box of numbers: 1960  2003

1) Water level = down 13-17m.
2) New sand dunes >100, 000 Km2.
3) 400,000 Km2 around Aral officially recognized as an Ecological Disaster Zone.
4) Salinity = 0.010  0.027 g/g.
5) Temperature amplitude = up >2 degree C.
6) Emission of sand+dust+salt=75+65+1=141 mln tons/year=500, 000tons/day=500Gg/day.
7) Persistent acid and poisonous rains = in the belt 500 Km around Aral.
8)Flora = 8000 Km2 of reed gone.
9) Fauna= 20% of species are still alive.
10) Fishing industry = caput (was 4, 000, 000 Kg/year).
11) Tourist industry = caput (was 1, 000, 000 person/year).
12) Domestic water consumption = 5 times less.
13) Mortality rate = twofold increase.
14) Every year one child of ten dies.
15) Mentally retarded >25% of population.

Apocalypses now

In Aral Desert about 4 000, 000 persons are serving as guinea pigs to show you what will happen, when the global warming starts to bite.

The same situation will occur when Lake Eyre (Australia) will dry out.
In the summer 20002-2003 the kangaroo liberation activists suddenly found that some terrorists sprayed their cars with dirt, ruining the nice car polish.

Yet, there were no terrorists.
The massive dust storms, visible from satellites, reached from central Australia to the most populated Eastern Australia Cities.
Good News: contaminated drizzles also ruin the chauvinist pig cars.

Many thousands of kangaroo, sheep, platypuses and other animals perished.
In Australia there are >1, 000, 000 asthmatics.

The Dead Sea is >15m down.
Suppose, the Sodom and Gomorra dirt will become airborne. The population there are too busy with their "politics" to transfer water from Red Sea or Mediterranean. Will Damask, Amman and Jerusalem become ghost cities?

In USA many deadly compounds were making the agriculture more profitable.
What will happen, when the Bible Belt starts to desiccate? It has already happen once - before the Second World War, but then the Pandora Box was not loaded. Will we wait till the poisonous clouds reach NY and California?

You can create many computer models for these scenarios, but the experimental answers to all these questions are in the Aral Desert.

An obvious solution to the emission problem is to seal Aral Desert.

Not a new idea. In every city there are there are many deadly contaminated areas that are sealed and frequently used as car parks.
However, 100, 000 Km2 car park is a bit too lofty, so let's build a city.

Aral City is not supposed to look like New York, more like Los Angeles.
It is seismically active zone.
So: small cheap houses, solar air conditioning, huge highways, super modern airport for supersonic planes, no trees, indoor plants and swimming pools, etc.

It could be also Astronauts City. The Baikonur spaceport is very close indeed and badly needs an extension.

It will be a rich city. Aral is an Eldorado: oil, gas and ores. The large multinationals, e.g. JNOC and Shell, are already very active in Aral. Yes, Sir, there is plenty of gold in this area.

It has to be a refugee heaven. Previous attempts to attract population to desert (e.g. in Libya) were a failure, even when the plentiful water supply was provided. The refugees are ready to go anywhere; they want a refuge temporarily. Yet, after they return to their homeland, there is always the next wave of refugees. In fact, the problem is so persistent, that there are rather permanent, well established international organizations that manage millions of refugees.

A tent camp is an embryo of unemployment, famine, epidemics, violence and terrorism. In the Aral City the migrants would not need to vegetate in tents. They could earn their bread as construction workers, building new houses for themselves and for the next wave of refugees.

The money are available now: many countries want to close their tent camps at any cost.
The indigenous population is leaving, abandoning ghost cities. So there may be no objections.

Medical Colonies: there were large leper colonies in this region. There are still more than one hundred dangerous diseases. And the sufferers are still treated as enemies of the people.

The Aral City could be the only city in Central Asia that will survive in 21st century. A biological explosion is accompanying the changes in this region, as many creatures are moving in. These colonists have left their enemies far back and they breed as rabbits in Australia. E.g. the termites are a major problem.
So, the bad news = Aral Desert soils are contaminated.
The good news = the poison will protect Aral City from bioexplosions.

Use this arithmetic for your own apocalypse

So, we have a contaminated area and we want to rehabilitate it.
How much will it cost?

You can find the answer in any report of any mining company.
New environment laws require restoring the mining areas to "natural" state.
The price is about $10 per m2.

These companies also have to restore or build linear structures: roads, pipelines, channels etc. The cost is $1, 000 per metre.

Aral Desert = 100, 000 Km2= 100, 000, 000, 000 m2.
You need about a trillion dollars ($1012).

Compare it with the annual budgets of Central Asia Republics (GDP, 2002):
Kazakhstan = $100 billion
Uzbekistan = $62 billion
Turkmenistan = $24 billion
Tajikistan = $8 billion

These simple calculations show the real cause of the Aral disaster.
Forget about conspiracies, evil empires and Islamic fundamentalism.
The dragon is too big for any knight, idiot or superman.

Using the same arithmetic you can forecast results of any "humanitarian" activity.
For example, on December 1996 the World Bank approved generous $7, 000, 000 loan.
Results: "the most corroded sections of Aral water distribution network were improved".
Simply speaking, the leaks in the pipes were plugged.

You can also estimate the scale of improvement:
$7, 000, 000 / $1, 000 per metre = 7 Km.

Is it very pessimistic?
Well, why don't you see the World Bank News Release #97/1119 ECA ?
Listed: 7 Km of Aral-Surbulak pipeline, 6 Km in Aralsk City, and 6 Km in Novokazalinsk City.

O.K., suppose we will have a trillion dollars ($1012).
Who will do the work?
Well, somebody with the similar experience.

Alas, no state, no international organization, no corporation has ever successfully rehabilitated
1, 000 Km2. The only kind of spatial infrastructure of this size, which was successfully built: cities. In the desert (Las-Vegas), in tropics (Singapore), in permafrost (Norilsk), everywhere it produced reasonable return for investors.

So, we really have very little choice.
Either we damp money in the green public relation exercises, or build the Aral City.

Aral City Development Corporation

Aral managers, advisers and donors: UN, World Bank, CIS (USSR), EU, UNDP, WHO, UNEP, USAAID, UNESCO, UNICEF, etc., etc.

No wonder that Aral is a Zone of International Mismanagement Disaster.

To stop this comedy, Aral has to be managed by a single accountable corporation.
Objective = to build Aral City really fast = in 3-4 years.
The budget = several trillion dollars.

Although “generous” contributions of donors are still welcome, the main capital could be raised from one source only = international share market.
Nowhere else to go for a trillion dollar project.

Political problem: the Central Asia Republics will never sell any land. This is an area of the fresh Islamic nationalism, recently acquired independence and farmers’ mentality. However, it is easy to lease or rent Aral temporarily, say, for 200 years.

Diplomatic problem: the boundary between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is in the middle of Aral.
Two agreements are necessary.

The water supply for Aral City is not a problem. The main problems of Aral are economical: small towns have no money to pay for water. Building a large city and developing profitable industries will automatically solve this problem.

Any chance to resurrect Aral Sea?

Well, almost 100%.
No, the aqueducts from Siberia will never do it. Any water transfer to this region will be used for irrigation. The Central Asia Republics have very simple choice: either boost their agriculture, or have the same problems as Afghanistan.

But there is something else: the sea level is rising. As the Black Sea becomes "heavier" it will tilt the adjacent territories. The water from Black Sea will spill to Caspian Sea. There is Manych-Gudilo channel, connecting these seas. Today it is just a chain of lakes, but it is <26m above sea level; ocean could rise 50-100m above the 2000 sea level.

The heavier Caspian Sea will sink the territory between Caspian and Aral. Geology of this area is "soft", and as satellite measurements showed recently, the fall of the Caspian Sea level always produces some bottom uplift.

Then, Aral will again connect to the World Ocean.

When exactly will it happen?
Well, nobody really knows.

Anyway, let us not build anything everlasting in Aral City.
No pyramids, please.


There are many rather emotional publications in the popular press, but it is just a green noise. Authors often propose to close irrigated fields and to starve all population of Central Asia. Ideas "to save water" by application of better irrigation technique are OK, but any additional water has been already earmarked for the local irrigation. Weather modification in Central Asia is more problematic, than in any other region. Too far from oceans, climate is dry, continental: average rainfall <0.3m/year; evaporation >1.2m/year.

The main body of hydrological literature is now useless, as it dwells in the past. The monitoring network in Aral is out of order, almost all staff has been made redundant. No decent roads reach water bodies of Aral Salt Lakes.

Do not use any maps.
For this region they always were "secret", mainly because of their poor quality.
The main source of data = satellite pictures.

Do not use satellite pictures, published or damped on Internet.
Only satellite data < 1year old are of some value. See:


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