Monday, June 9, 2008

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Dead Sea

Jordan, Israel
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For decades, heavy demands have been placed on the land-locked Dead Sea to meet the needs of growing populations in the countries that border it. Both Israel and Jordan draw water from rivers that flow into the Dead Sea, reducing the amount of water that would naturally replenish it. The amount of area devoted to evaporation ponds for producing salt has greatly expanded over the past three decades. The creation of salt works tends to accelerate evaporation, further contributing to the reduction in water level. Currently, it is estimated that the water level of the Dead Sea is dropping at a rate of about one metre (3 feet) per year.

These two images, from 1973 and 2002, reveal dramatic changes in the Dead Sea over a period of about 30 years. Declining water levels, coupled with impoundments and land reclamation projects, have greatly increased the amount of exposed arid land along the coastline. The near-complete closing off of the southern part of the Sea by dry land (2002 image) reveals the severity of water level decline.

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