The first question people have when seeing these images of the Aral Sea over time is, Where did the water go?
The images that go along with this section show where a lot of it is going. These images are from a Landsat scene south of the Aral Sea, upstream along the Amu Darya. The urban area in the center of the close-up image is Urgench, Uzbekistan.
Both images show extensive irrigated cropland, and the river seems to be at full bank. Canals can be seen stretching across the region, along with several pools of stored water. There is still plenty of water in the rivers that feed the Aral, it’s just being used before it can get there.