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The Dead Sea is really dying

October 28, 2012

The Dead Sea, due north of Ein Gedi, December 2011. Jordan is visible in the background. Click to enlarge.

A new AP report says “the Dead Sea is shrinking at a record rate.” Actually the problem is not new, but the shrinkage is accelerating.  Signs along a pathway from the Ein Gedi Spa to the Dead Sea’s shoreline chronicles the steady decline.  What once was saline rich sea is now only dry salt bed.

At the Ein Gedi spa on the Dead Sea, signs along the path to the sea indicate the sea’s earlier shorelines. The 1985 sign (left) is the same small rectangular sign visible in the left mid-point of the center image. Click to enlarge.

According to the AP article:

The salty inland lake bordering the nations dropped a record 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) over the last 12 months because of industry use and evaporation, the Hydrological Service of Israel said. That’s the steepest Dead Sea decline since data-keeping started in the 1950s. Half the drop was caused by Israel Chemicals Ltd. and Jordan’s Arab Potash Co., said Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of the Friends of Earth Middle East.

Dead Sea, Ein Gedi Spa, marker showing 1991 shoreline of the sea (left) and close up of the exposed sea bed (right). Click to enlarge.

Again, from the Ap article:

The makers of potash, a raw material for fertilizer, are competing for water with a centuries-old tourism industry on the Dead Sea, Israel’s most crowded leisure destination last year with 857,000 visitors. That’s more packed than Tel Aviv and Eilat’s beach resorts, the Tourism Ministry said.

It isn’t only pumping causing the degradation of the Dead Sea, a biblical refuge for King David. Agriculture diverts water for crops from the Jordan River that feeds into the Dead Sea, adding to a decline that’s created potentially life-threatening sinkholes by the shore.

Dead Sea, Ein Gedi Spa. At the sea’s 2000 shoreline is a boardwalk leading to the lowest point on earth. It was once surrounded by the saline rich sea. Click to enlarge.

Dead Sea, Ein Gedi Spa. These three people are crossing the sea’s 2000 shoreline border. They still have a way to go before reaching the shore. Click to enlarge.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 1, 2012 10:31 PM

    So sad what is happening to the Dead Sea!! What a shame.

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