Perfume river, Hue, in Vietnam, Southeast
Mount Fuji and lake Kawaguchi, in Japan.
Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, rising to 3,776 meters. It is a
volcano that has been dormant since its last eruption in 1707.
The Mosque of al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Aral Sea, Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan. It was once the world’s fourth largest lake, now the world’s eight largest lake
(image at right). The Aral Sea sits in a basin surrounded by the arid Ustyurt Plateau to the
west (bottom right), the Kara Sandy Desert to the south (upper right), the Kyzyl
Sandy Desert to the east (center left and upper left), and the Aral Mangy Desert
to the north (bottom left). Two rivers originally fed the Aral Sea, the Syr
Darya from the east (left center) and the Amu Darya from the south (right center
to upper right). The former Soviet Union began irrigating vast areas along both
rivers in the early 1950’s for cotton production. High volumes of water were
diverted causing the rivers to sometimes run dry by the time they reached the
Aral Sea. Already situated in a semi-arid location, surface evaporation from the
Aral Sea began to accelerate and the sea began to shrink. The Aral Sea lost over 40 % of its surface area between 1960 and 1995. In some
areas of the sea, the present shoreline lies 81 km or more from its former
shores. The waters of the sea have increased in salinity and a large fishing
industry has collapsed. Millions of people in the area are affected by the winds
carrying salt, sand, and mineral particles from the former lakebed. Though little can be done to save the Aral Sea,
it could eventually shrink to a tenth of its former size (NASA - August 1997).
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