Once the world’s fourth-largest inland saline body of water, the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s, after the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya that fed it were diverted by Soviet Union irrigation projects. By 2004, the sea had shrunk to 25% of its original surface area, and a nearly fivefold increase in salinity had killed most of its natural flora and fauna. The once prosperous fishing industry has been virtually destroyed, and former fishing towns along the original shores have become ship graveyards.
Aral Sea from space, August 1985
Aral Sea from space, July 2009