Dead Sea | WWF

Dead Sea

A dying lake

Scary enough that the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth with temperatures reaching a scorching 50°C in the summer, but with water levels dropping at a rate of about 1m per year, some believe the biblical salt waters between Israel and Jordan may disappear completely within the next century.
The Dead Sea has already lost over 1/3 of its surface area and has fallen over 25 metres. Water inflow levels have been reduced to just 5% of its original volume, with annual surface inflows in the future predicted to only further decrease.

The dramatic lowering of the Dead Sea's water level since the 1970s is largely attributed to the diversion of water sources upstream in the Jordan River by Israel and Jordan to meet domestic, agricultural, tourist and industrial demands.

The fall in the level of the sea has receded so much that the surrounding shores are now dotted with collapsing sinkholes, some 15m in depth and 25m in diameter. On the western shores of the Dead Sea, 2,000 of these sinkholes have been identified.
	© Xavier Eichaiker
The wetland surrounding the Dead Sea supports endangered species such as ibex, hyrax and even a few Arabian leopards.
© Xavier Eichaiker
Dead Sea.

Saving the Dead Sea

One option being discussed for stopping the Dead Sea from shrinking is  channelling water from the Red Sea. The Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project has been touted by some as a possible panacea for providing desalinated water to the people of the area and stabilizing the level of the Dead Sea.

Supported by the international community, including the World Bank, the proposed pipeline is expected to cost billions of dollars and pump some 1.8 billion cubic meters of water per year from the Red Sea near Eilat and Aqaba to the Dead Sea, a distance of 190 km. 

However, environmental groups are concerned that the proposed canal can damage the unique natural system of the Dead Sea, including the coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba. They are calling for an integrated regional development plan and better water management such as diverting some of the waters of the Jordan River back to the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea Facts & Figures

    • 420m (1,378 ft) below sea level
    • 33% salinity - the world's saltiest large water body
    • 8.6 times saltier than the ocean
    • 67km (42 miles) long; 18km (11 miles) at its widest point
    • Summer temperatures range from 35-50°C

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