Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Dying Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is shrinking. Every year the surface level of the Dead Sea drops more than a metre. In the 1980's the tourist resort of Ein Gedi proudly sat on the coast of the Dead Sea. Tourists now face a 2km walk from Ein Gedi to reach the sea.

You can see how much the Dead Sea has shrunk since 1973 on this interactive Dead Sea Map. The map contains six overlays which show the surface area of the Dead Sea for six different years. If you hover over any of the colored squares you can view an overlay showing the size of the Dead Sea in the selected year. An information window reveals the year selected, the satellite source for the overlay and the area in kilometres of the Dead Sea in that year.

You can compare satellite images of the Dead Sea yourself on NASA'a Earth Observatory. The shrinkage of the Dead Sea is very apparent on NASA's three satellite images from 1972, 1989 and 2011.

The shrinking of the Dead Sea is not yet as severe as that suffered by the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world. Due to Soviet irrigation projects the Aral Sea is now less than 10% of the size it once was. In fact the eastern basin of what used to be the Aral Sea is now called the Aralkum Desert

Lots of people have used satellite images to document how the Aral Sea has dwindled in size over time. This NASA Earth Observatory feature uses a series of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite to document the water loss in the Aral Sea from 2000-2017.

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