The severe shrinkage of Aral Sea and water resources coordination issues in upstream and downstream regions lead to the serious ecological crisis in the Aral Sea Basin (ASB). Comprehensive ecological carrying capacity (ECC) assessment is of great significance for the ecological restoration and sustainable development. Based on the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and Experts Mark, this paper established the index evaluation system according to the specific ecological situation of the ASB. Combining remote sensing (RS) data and geographic information systems (GIS) technology, the paper assessed the ECC from 2001 to 2018 and explained the variations of the ECC by various data. The results indicate that the ECC is getting better in eighteen years. In 2009, the ECC condition is the best. ECC of the upstream region is better than that of the downstream region. The cause analysis that highlights the precipitation and enforcement of ecological policy has a positive impact on the ECC change. And the disparity of water body in upstream and downstream watercourses contributes to the regional difference of ECC. The paper provides an evaluation system of the ECC in the ASB. The analysis of the ECC variations is instructive to the sustainable development and ecological restoration in the ASB and other similar areas.
Keywords: Ecological carrying capacity; Remote sensing assessment; Sustainable development; The Aral Sea Basin.
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