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Jerusalem Life

| 9 eerie and stunning photos of the disappearing Dead Sea

Zev Stub    
Sunday, 10 February 10:10 AM
From Israel21c

The Dead Sea is all kinds of things – a natural wonder, the lowest place on earth, its saltiest waterbody and a fabulous place to schmear on some mud and feel all rejuvenated. It’s also technically a lake.

But most importantly, it’s fast disappearing.

View of the Dead Sea in southern Israel, October 2017. Photo by YanivNadav/FLASH90

Back in the 1930s, the Dead Sea spread over 385 square miles. Nowadays, it only reaches 250. The drop in sea level, according to Israel’s Water Authority,  is the result of two main factors: the diversion of water sources and mineral extraction.

View of salt formations on the Dead Sea shore, October 2018. Photo by YanivNadav/FLASH90

In the past, water from the Jordan River and its tributary, the Yarmouk River, flowed south and filled up the Dead Sea. In the past few decades, however, dams were built in Israel, Syria and Jordan, in effect almost completely preventing the flow of water into the salty lake.

Dead Sea photo by YanivNadav/FLASH90

If that wasn’t trouble enough, the pumping carried out by the Israeli and Jordanian mineral factories on both its shores has further exacerbated decreasing water levels.

As a result, the Dead Sea’s water level has been dropping at an astounding rate of three feet a year.

The Dead Sea is fast shrinking. Photo by YanivNadav/FLASH90

This doesn’t come as a complete surprise to visitors to the area, who from year to year have to cross more and more land to make it to the water. The lifeguard shacks that were once located on the water’s edge now stand abandoned on rocky stretches of shore as a stark reminder of the receding waterline.

Aerial view of tourists and Israelis enjoying the Dead Sea, April 2018. Photo by Menachem Lederman/FLASH90

This, in fact, is “an ongoing ecological disaster generated by human activity,” says EcoPeace Middle East, an NGO that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmentalists. This is particularly poignant in the geologically and environmentally unique Dead Sea, which is home to rare and special animals, vegetation and geological phenomena.

View of salt formations on the Dead Sea shore, February 2018. Photo by Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90

What can be done to stop the Dead Sea from retreating even farther? According to EcoPeace, enabling additional water flow into the lower Jordan River and the Dead Sea and reducing the Israeli and Jordanian mineral industries’ use of Dead Sea water could stop the natural wonder from shrinking and allow us all to enjoy its beauty in years to come.

View of salt formations on the Dead Sea shore, March 2017. Photo by Doron Horowitz/FLASH90

Dry trees grow on salt islands in the southern Dead Sea in Israel, February 2017. Photo by NatiShohat/FLASH90

         
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