World
Fact-checked

At CulturalWorld, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

Is the Dead Sea Really Evaporating?

The Dead Sea is indeed evaporating, with water levels dropping at an alarming rate of more than one meter per year. This unique saline lake, renowned for its therapeutic properties, faces threats from human activity and climate change. As the shoreline recedes, sinkholes appear, posing new challenges. What does this mean for the future of this natural wonder? Explore the implications with us.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Studies of the Dead Sea or Salt Sea, a unique geological feature between Israel and Jordan, have revealed that it is indeed evaporating at an alarming rate. Evaporation is actually part of the process which gives the sea its unique properties, but the evaporation has become unsustainable because of the diversion of fresh water from the river which once fed the body of water. In the early twenty-first century, it was estimated that the Dead Sea could essentially vanish within several decades at the current evaporation rate. This has led to concerns among environmentalists and the people who live in the region, since the Dead Sea is ecologically very intriguing, and it is a large source of revenue for both of the neighboring governments.

The Dead Sea is a massive inland lake. Two things make this body of water intriguing. The first is the hypersalinity of the water, which has a high concentration of mineral salts from the Earth's crust. The concentration is so high that the salts often pile up on the shore, and people swimming in the sea bob like corks. The second point of interest is the fact that the sea is slowly sinking, because it is located in a rift between two tectonic plates. As the plates pull apart, the rift deepens, and the Dead Sea sinks lower; around one foot (30 centimeters) every year.

The salts of the Dead Sea accumulate on the shore.
The salts of the Dead Sea accumulate on the shore.

The body of water first got its name when visitors noticed a lack of life in the area. It was believed that no organisms could survive in the extremely salty conditions. Some extremophilic bacteria have since proved this theory to be untrue, but there is certainly a dearth of large animal and plant life in the region.

The Dead Sea was originally connected to the ocean through the Red Sea, but over millions of years, it slowly became an inland lake. The largest supply of water for the Sea is the River Jordan, which carries water into the Sea to replace water lost through evaporation. As water evaporates, it concentrates the salts in the sea, maintaining a high level of salinity. Unfortunately, both Israel and Jordan use the river extensively as a water supply for irrigation and municipal water stores. As a result, by the time the Jordan reaches the Sea, it is a heavily depleted trickle. This trickle is not enough to replace the water lost from the slowly evaporating Dead Sea, and as a result, the Sea is shrinking.

The Dead Sea is sinking because it's located in a rift between two tectonic plates.
The Dead Sea is sinking because it's located in a rift between two tectonic plates.

The problem is compounded by extraction and evaporation of water from the Dead Sea to extract the valuable mineral salts. The salts are believed to be beneficial for human health, which is why people flock to the Sea as a vacation destination. They can also be processed to yield useful chemical compounds. However, extensive evaporation also contributes to the lowering water level.

Sea salt from the Dead Sea is value for its supposed medicinal properties.
Sea salt from the Dead Sea is value for its supposed medicinal properties.

Ultimately, evaporation will cause the Dead Sea to reach a point of such high salinity that it will essentially stop evaporating. However, the size of the Sea would shrink dramatically. Over thousands of years, the remaining water would be slowly extracted, leaving a large salt deposit behind. To save the Sea, the neighboring nations need to change their water usage policies, or consider importing water through canals to refresh the rapidly shrinking and irreplaceable Dead Sea.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Dead Sea actually evaporating?

Yes, the Dead Sea is indeed evaporating. According to a study by the Geological Survey of Israel, the water level of the Dead Sea has been dropping at an average rate of more than one meter per year, primarily due to human water consumption from its tributaries, especially the Jordan River, and mineral extraction industries. This has led to a significant reduction in its size over recent decades.

What are the consequences of the Dead Sea's evaporation?

The evaporation of the Dead Sea has several environmental consequences. It has led to the formation of hazardous sinkholes around its shores, negatively impacting the local ecosystem and tourism. Additionally, the receding waters threaten the unique mineral-rich properties of the sea, which are valued for therapeutic and cosmetic products. The loss of such a unique natural resource also has cultural and historical implications.

What efforts are being made to save the Dead Sea?

Efforts to save the Dead Sea include regional cooperation and environmental initiatives. One such project is the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance, which aims to channel water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. Additionally, organizations and governments are working on sustainable water management practices and promoting the use of treated wastewater for agriculture to reduce the strain on the Dead Sea's tributaries.

Can the Dead Sea be restored to its former levels?

Restoring the Dead Sea to its former levels is a complex challenge. While projects like the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance offer some hope, they are expensive and face geopolitical and environmental hurdles. Complete restoration would require significant changes in regional water management and international cooperation. The feasibility of full restoration remains uncertain, but efforts can still mitigate further decline.

How does the evaporation of the Dead Sea affect the global environment?

The evaporation of the Dead Sea has a localized impact rather than a global one. However, it serves as an indicator of the broader issues of water scarcity and environmental mismanagement. The Dead Sea's decline reflects the challenges faced by many bodies of water around the world and underscores the importance of sustainable practices and international cooperation in addressing environmental issues.

For more detailed information and the latest research on the Dead Sea's evaporation, please refer to credible sources such as the Geological Survey of Israel and environmental studies published on the topic.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a CulturalWorld researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a CulturalWorld researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

You might also Like

Discussion Comments

anon129566

It is Israel who is using the water of Jordan River, and not both countries as mentioned above.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • The salts of the Dead Sea accumulate on the shore.
      By: Victor B
      The salts of the Dead Sea accumulate on the shore.
    • The Dead Sea is sinking because it's located in a rift between two tectonic plates.
      The Dead Sea is sinking because it's located in a rift between two tectonic plates.
    • Sea salt from the Dead Sea is value for its supposed medicinal properties.
      By: bit24
      Sea salt from the Dead Sea is value for its supposed medicinal properties.