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The Dead Sea is Shrinking: A BGU Professor Shares Some Insight

The Dead Sea is Shrinking: A BGU Professor Shares Some Insight

October 19, 2021

Natural Sciences

Israel21C — The Dead Sea has been shrinking at an alarming pace, losing more than a meter (some 40 inches) of water per year for a total of 25 meters since the 1990s, according to EcoPeace Middle East. Giant sinkholes have swallowed up several beaches.

“A Rejuvenating Bath with Dead Sea Black Mud,” photo by Santhosh Manganam of Kuwait exhibited in the virtual Dead Sea Museum

At least for now, with no sure solution in sight for the Dead Sea’s woes, we may have to view the situation the way we are starting to view the Covid pandemic: learn to live with it.

That’s the opinion of Jiwchar Ganor, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at BGU, and former dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

“The decrease in sea level is of course human caused, but people need to drink and eat,” he says. “There is a huge population in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. These areas are starving for water. They use all the available water, and the result is a drop in the Dead Sea level.”

Ganor adds that the net effect of the mineral-mining industry is more salinity. It’s not possible to stabilize both the salinity and the water level.

“We can stop the sea-level drop by adding seawater or desalination brine, but if we do that, we will make the surface water much less salty on the top and this will cause more sinkholes,” he says.

Prof. Jiwchar Ganor,
Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at BGU

“We can stabilize the salinity, but if we do that the water level will go down. All we can do is slow the rate of decrease by adding a limited amount of water from the brine of desalination in the Gulf of Eilat.”

The reality, says Ganor, is that the problems cannot be solved completely.

“We have a huge need for freshwater. And we have an industry that is a very important source of foreign currency for Jordan, and for Israel is major employer in the South.”

However, he agrees with Baer that the salty lake will be with us forever.

“The Dead Sea will shrink but not disappear,” he concludes.

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