Situated between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea was once the world's fourth largest freshwater lake. It is now 10 percent of its former size. Treehugger explains what happened:
In what the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling one of the most shocking disasters on the planet, the Aral Sea has literally all but dried up. So how does one of the most massive bodies of water in the world vanish? A giant, Cold War-era Soviet project comes to town, that's how. A project intended to boost cotton production in an arid region of Uzbekistan diverted the rivers that feed the Aral Sea away from their natural source. Without the rivers feeding into the lake, it has simply and steadily dried up over the years. And now, 90% of the entire Aral Sea is gone.The disappearing waters have left behind a graveyard of ships-not unlike the one featured on this site last week-and underscore one of the more dramatic ways that the hand of man can reshape the world. Head to Treehugger for more information, as well as photos and video that show the scope of the situation.Photo via Vienna Cafe (via Treehugger).