Dead Sea

Article

May 25, 2022

The Dead Sea is a closed salt lake located in the gorges of the Jordan Valley within the Syrian-African rift, on the border line separating Jordan and historical Palestine (the West Bank and Israel). The Dead Sea is famous for being the lowest point on the surface of the globe, as its shore level reached about 400 meters below sea level according to records in 2013. The Dead Sea is also distinguished by its high salinity, as the percentage of salt in it is about 34%, which is nine times the concentration of salts in the Mediterranean, and one of the highest levels of salinity in water bodies in the world. These salts have resulted because the lake is the final destination of the water that flows into it, as there is no way out beyond it. The Dead Sea is at most 17 km wide, while its length is about 70 km. In 2010, its area amounted to about 650 km2, which has shrunk over the past four decades by more than 35%. The desert climate of the region, which is characterized by extreme heat, drought and high evaporation rates, plays a major role in increasing the concentration of these salts in it. The level of the Dead Sea has recently suffered a continuous decline, as this is due to a number of main reasons, such as the extensive use of water sources, the most important of which is the Jordan River pumping water into the southern basin, where the Dead Sea currently consists of two basins; North and South are divided by the peninsula of the tongue. As a result of the continuous decline of this level, the southern part of the lake was exposed to drought, as the southern part is less deep than its northern counterpart, and its shore level reaches 401 meters below sea level. With the draining of the southern part, evaporation ponds were established for the production of potash and other chemicals such as manganese, magnesium and bromine in the Israeli potash plants, and the Arab Potash Company in Jordan. These ponds require a large pumping and evaporation of the Dead Sea water, which has had a significant impact on the increase in sea level decline. The annual rate of sea level decline during the past decade has reached an amount equivalent to the loss for a whole year, where the level has decreased by about one meter every year . This rate has increased significantly in 2012, when the sea level decreased by 1.40 metres. The cumulative decrease in the water level has also led to significant changes in the topography of neighboring regions and in the Mediterranean including irreversible changes in the northern part, creation of sewage, withdrawal from beaches, damage to infrastructure (roads and bridges) and nature reserves The Dead Sea is very important for industry and tourism in the region, as the composition of its waters is different from that of the rest of the world.