Engage: can human actions alter water resources?

Step 1: Go to the ArcGIS Online map, Down to the Last Drop, and explore the map.

Step 2: Examine the recent view of the Aral Sea in Central Asia.

Step 3: With the Details pane visible, click the button, Show Contents of Map.

Step 4: Click the checkbox to the left of the layer name, Aral Sea, 2000 (image) & 1960 (black outline). The image is from 2000, and the outline shows the 1060 extent of the sea before humans began to alter water flow to the Aral Sea.

  • One physical change that can be seen in the Aral Sea since humans altered the water flow is the smaller, shallower, upper portion remains more intact after a dam was added between the north and south sections.

Explore: where are other lakes and rivers that are drying up due to human actions?

Step 5: Click the Bookmarks button. Select one of the other location bookmarks for a closer examination.

Step 6: Click the map marker to view detailed information about human alterations to this water resource.

  • What human events have caused changes in water resources?
  • What natural events have caused changes in water resources?

Explain: why is the water to the Aral Sea decreasing?

Step 7: Click the Bookmark, Aral Sea Region.

  • Do both rivers reach the Aral Sea? (Zoom in and out)

Step 8: Turn on the layer, Aral Sea Watershed Dams.

Step 9: Turn on the layer, Irrigated Lands in Aral Watershed.

  • Do dams or canals have the most significant impact?
  • What factors could influence the placement of the dams and canals?

Elaborate: how would the Aral Sea drying up affect the surrounding areas?

Step 10: Turn on the layer, Aral Sea Dust Impact. Zoom out to see the impact area.

Step 11: Increased dust and salt storms sometimes send dust 500 km from the Aral Sea.

  • Dry lake beds of the salty sea that have no vegetation are causing the dust and salt storms. (T/F)
  • What environmental, economic, and human health effects might this have on the surrounding areas? (Look closely at the areas within the buffer.)

Evaluate: how has human alteration affected the Colorado River?

Step 12: Press the button, Bookmarks. Select the Colorado River Basin Dams and Canals.

Step 13: Zoom in and out to identify human alterations and causes.

  • What are some similarities and differences between the effects of human alterations on the Colorado River and the Aral Sea?‚Äč


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Human Geography Lab Manual Copyright © by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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