Crystallized Salt Deep Inside The Dead Sea Warns Of Extreme Drought Ahead

Posted: Mar 23 2017, 8:43am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 23 2017, 9:04am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Crystallized Salt Deep Inside the Dead Sea Warns of Extreme Drought Ahead
Thick layer of salt recovered from more 1,000 feet below the bed of the Dead Sea. Credit: Kiro/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Scientists find evidence of ancient drought in Mideast and they suggest this condition could happen again

Scientists have found evidence of previously unknown Middle Eastern drought at the bottom of the Dead Sea. The drought was so extreme that such conditions have not been observed in the recorded history and the most concerning thing is that similar event could happen again.

“All the observations show this region is one of those most affected by modern climate change, and it's predicted to get dryer. What we showed is that even under natural conditions, it can become much drier than predicted by any of our models.” Study lead author Yael Kiro, a geochemist at Columbia University said.

The Dead Sea surrounded by Israel, Jordan and Palestinian is the Earth’s lowest spot on land. The surface of the Dead Sea is about 1300 feet below sea level while its bottom extends down another 900 feet. Because it is one of saltiest bodies of water, Dead Sea is also called the Sea of Salt. Its higher salt levels won’t allow marine life to thrive in the water.

In 2010, an international team of researchers drilled 1,500 feet into the deepest part of the floor of Dead Sea. The drilling that went for 40 days and 40 nights yielded the earliest known deposits in the history of Middle East.

Thick layers of crystallized salt harvested from around 1,000 feet below the seabed revealed the evidence of a startling decline in precipitation in Mideast hundreds of thousands years ago. The rainfall dropped to as little as a fifth of modern levels some 120,000 years ago and again about 10,000 years ago as climate warmed.

Earth's orbit brought temperatures about 4 degrees hotter those of the 20th century. That's equivalent to what is projected for the end of the 21st century.

Today, the region is drying again, indicating a signal that a major drought could be on its way. But this time around, hot and dry weather is not the main cause yet, rather booming population in the region that needs more water than ever before. People in Middle East are rapidly sucking freshwater, leaving no constant source of water to keep Dead Sea full. This seems to be a reason why Dead Sea is drying up at an alarming rate.

“The Dead Sea is wasting away today because humans are using up all its fresh water sources," said Steven Goldstein, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty and co author of the study. "Our study shows that in the past, without any human intervention, the fresh water nearly stopped flowing. This means that if it keeps getting hotter now, it could stop running again. This time, it would affect millions of people."

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