According to recent findings, during the last interglacial period, about 120,000 years ago, the precursor of the Dead Sea (Lake Lisan) dried up perhaps entirely. Today, the Dead Sea level is dropping at rates of around >1m/year from the countries surrounding the Sea using all the runoff. Future climate change scenarios for the region suggest even more arid conditions. Even though previous studies suggested that the decrease in water level would stabilize around 100-150 m below current conditions, the Goldstein et al. (2011) core evidence might suggest otherwise. Could the Dead Sea dry up? What conditions could lead to such an extreme? When would that occur?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You've tagged this climate-change, but is that the reason for it drying up? For the Aral Sea it isn't (although of course, the Aral Sea drying up does affect local climate considerably). $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jul 30 '15 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ @gerrit, I forgot to add the connection to climate change that I wanted included. Done $\endgroup$ – arkaia Jul 30 '15 at 11:32
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I remember when I was an undergrad in a university located just 50 km away from the Dead Sea, we had a lecture about it. There was a paradox - the evaporation rate is accelerating, when in fact it should decelerate due to higher salinity. Forgive me for not remembering what was the answer for that. It was a long time ago. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Jul 31 '15 at 5:37

The Dead Sea salt is almost equally Mg-chloride and Na-chloride at about four times normal sea-salt salinity. This combination is extremely hygroscopic whilst, at this ultra low elevation and high temperature, there is very high humidity. People who try to towel themselves dry after swimming in the Dead Sea find that they can't - the salt absorbs atmospheric moisture as fast as they can towel it off. In addition to the chemical characteristics of the salt, at such high concentrations the water vapour pressure at the liquid surface is almost nothing. Therefore, it will require extreme and very prolonged dessiccation to dry out the Dead Sea completely. On the other hand the sea-level still has a long way to drop before it becomes a sort of slushy paste.


Lately, a couple of scientific discussions came up and challenged the conclusions of Goldstein et al., 2011 (see Katz & Starinsky comments to Torfsteins’s et al., (2015) paper, in EPSL) A recent paper by Neugebauer et al. (2015) published in Climate of the Past discussions, interprets the gravel layer (which was presented as the main evidence for dry up or at least massive drawdown of the lake) as an artifact of the drilling process. So it seems that there is today no evidence for a complete dry up of the paleo Dead Sea.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.