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Turkmenistan. An Environmental Overview By : Matt Sherman Spring Semester – UW Eau Claire Geography 308 – Eastern European and Russian Geography. Turkmenistan Overview. Left the USSR in 1991 Population of 4,863,169 (July 2004 est.) which ranks 115 th in the world.

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Turkmenistan l.jpg


An Environmental Overview

By : Matt Sherman

Spring Semester – UW Eau Claire

Geography 308 – Eastern European and Russian Geography

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Turkmenistan Overview

  • Left the USSR in 1991

  • Population of 4,863,169 (July 2004 est.) which ranks 115th in the world.

  • Bordering Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and the Caspian Sea

  • Sub-tropical climate

  • Niyazov Dictatorship still in place

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Turkmenistan and Environmental Problems

  • Irrigation problems

  • The soil contamination from sediments river water

  • Decline in the water level of the Amu Darya

  • The disappearance of the Aral Sea

Karakum River

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Irrigation Problems

  • Amu Darya (River)

    • Main source of water for drinking, agriculture, and supply to the Karakum (Garagum in Turkmenistan) Canal and the Aral sea

    • Accounts for 90% of water used in country

    • Contamination of surface

      water with agricultural

      chemicals and pesticides

      is a serious problem

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Past Solutions

  • The Karakum Canal

    • Provides water to the more areas along southern Turkmenistan

    • Criticized because of the amount of water diverted from the shrinking Aral Sea

    • With out the Karakum Canal there would be little to no agriculture in the Southern parts of Turkmenistan

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Current Solutions

  • Construction of a new lake in the middle of the Karakum Desert

  • Cost is about 4.5 billion US dollars

  • Estimated to be complete in 20 years

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Possible Negatives

  • The lake could pollute massive amounts of land with salt.

  • Most of the water would evaporate from an open-air lake in the type of climate the Karakum desert has.

  • Could take even more water away from the Amu Darya and Aral Sea.

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Problems with the Soil

  • The soil used for agriculture is full of chemicals and pesticides

  • The lack of adequate soil causes the over use of the main growing and grazing lands

  • The increasing salinity levels are making it harder and harder to produce agriculture

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Categories of Soils by Salinity Levels

  • As salinity levels increase, plants extract water less easily from soil. High soil salinity can also cause nutrient imbalances and cause the process of desertification to speed up.

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Water Levels Falling in the Amu Darya

  • From 1960-1996 the volume of water has dropped 80%

  • The lower reaches of the river once contained a large delta that supported extensive vegetation, but most of the delta has dried up due to reduced water flow.

  • Major reason is the Karakum Canal

  • Amu Darya also supports Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and the Aral Sea

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Amu Darya River Basin

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River Basin Problems

  • Overuse of the river

  • Any and all chemicals used in area of river basin make it to the river and pollute the water

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The Disappearance of the Aral Sea

  • Was once the 4th largest sea in the World

  • Largest contributor to the disappearance is the over use of the Amu Darya River

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Consequences of Disappearing Aral Sea

  • Climatic consequences

    • Mesoclimatic changes (increase of continentality)

    • Increase of salt and dust storms

    • Shortening of the vegetation period

  • Health consequences

    • Increase of serious diseases( e.g. cholera, typhus, gastritis, blood cancer)

    • Increase of respiratory system diseases (asthma, bronchitis)

    • Birth defects and high infant mortality

  • Ecological / economic consequences

    • Degeneration of the delta ecosystems

    • Total collapse of the fishing industry (originally 44,000 t/a)

    • Decrease of productivity of agricultural fields

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Possible Solutions

  • Kazakhstan government, along with the World Bank, began a massive restoration project for the Aral Sea.

  • The southern Aral Sea has been considered beyond saving, and the restoration effort will instead focus on the much smaller, but less polluted and saline, northern sea

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  • Turkmenistan is helping destroy the Aral Sea but without the use of the Amu Darya River Turkmenistan would be destroyed.

  • The soil is going through the process of desertification and becoming less and less useful.

  • The Amu Darya River is losing water because of the Karakum Canal and other tributaries.

  • Production of a giant artificial lake being created in Karakum desert will help the country's growing water needs but may also cause more problems than it solves.

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