Rodrigo’s Science Journal #6

March 12, 2014

Yesterday EMIS went on a trip to the Dead Sea, and it was very interesting to float in the lowest dry point of the planet. It was an amazing and relaxing experience.

dead-sea-salt

Although most people might think The Dead Sea is a sea, it is actually a saltwater lake. This lake is located in the Middle East, on the border between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan and is fed by the Jordan River. It has an area of nearly 1,050 square kilometers, with a maximum length of  80 km and a maximum width of approximately 18 km. Since it is about 425 meters below sea level, it is considered one of the largest absolute depressions in the world.

The Dead Sea’s water is composed of sulfur, magnesium, bromine, potassium, chlorine, iodine, calcium, zinc and other elements. It has a high degree of salinity, so that the maintenance of animal and plant life there is impossible, except for the bacteria Haloarcula marismortui. This bacteria is very resistant to hyper saline soils.

Dead-Sea

In general, seas and oceans have a salt level of 5% (35 grams of salt per liter of water). However, the salinity of the Dead Sea is close to 35% (300 grams of salt per liter of water). Being surrounded by land on all the sides, its only water supplier is the Jordan River.

The climate of the region is usually hot and dry, with very low humidity. There, the sun shines directly 330 days a year on average. In spite of the hot and dry weather, the sun’s rays (particularly UVB) are weak and less dangerous than elsewhere. The evaporation of water, the atmospheric density and the ozone layer create a natural filter against the sun’s rays so that there is less risk of getting skin diseases such as melanoma in the region.

2-day-best-of-israel-tour-from-tel-aviv-jerusalem-bethlehem-masada-in-tel-aviv-43521

The water’s evaporation is very fast. However, all the minerals that are in its composition remain in the sea, which results in a high degree of salinity. Also related to the level of salt, the Dead Sea is known to be a place where you can float due to the buoyancy forces.

Unfortunately, the Dead Sea has been suffering in recent years from a gradual reduction of its volume of water mainly because of the operation of the Jordan by fertilizer industries. Furthermore, there are some Israeli companies which have authorization to exploit the Dead Sea, which might cause environmental impacts on the lake.

the_dead_sea_hotels_area_ein_bokek_1728_xjpg2306

Israeli scholars ensure that the Dead Sea does not have any risk of drying. However, in order to prevent this to happen, the governments of Israel, Palestine and Jordan are studying the possibility of creating a channel taking over the Red Sea Water to the Dead Sea and Lake Tiberias. Before the deployment, there will be a study on the environmental impact on the site.

I highly recommend a visit to the Dead Sea. It is a great and relaxing experience. I hope you enjoy floating there. However, do not dive! Do not open your eyes! Do not drink the water. Very dangerous, haha.

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Written by Rodrigo Ferreira

Edited by Carlos Sevilla

Copy-edited by Maria Tirnovanu

References:

http://www.extremescience.com/dead-sea.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea

http://www.pensamentoverde.com.br/meio-ambiente/curiosidades-sobre-o-mar-morto/

http://www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Tourist%20Information/Discover%20Israel/Geographic%20Regions/Pages/The%20Dead%20Sea%20General%20Info.aspx

http://twistedsifter.com/2012/06/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-dead-sea/

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