TH!NK post

The Dead Sea Is Dying!!!

Published 08th October 2010 - 27 comments - 7360 views -

Another consequence of the drastic decrease of the flow of the Jordan River, are the consequences on the level of the Dead Sea. In the case of the Jordan River level, this is mainly due to the diversion and to the dams built by Israel, Jordan, and Syria (on the Yarmouk, the main tributary of the Jordan River), but indeed lower precipitation and higher temperature (due to climate change) have also an impact on the river. For this reason, the level of Dead Sea is falling every year by more or less 1 meter, losing more than 25 meters in the last thirty years. If no actions will be taken, the risk is that within fifty years this sea will disappear. This phenomenon in the last years has generated another new visible consequence: more than 2,000 sinkholes.

A sinkhole is a natural hole, a depression, in the surface of the land surrounding the sea and it is formed suddenly. These sinkholes are supposed to be caused by a groundwater level drop – as a consequence of the Dead Sea level drop – forming cavities underground, where fresh water used to be previously. Incoming water will then dissolve salt layers, causing internal holes that collapsing, will suddenly create the sinkholes around the Dead Sea. This phenomenon, happening suddenly, may be seriously dangerous for workers and people happening to be in the area where the sinkhole will form. As a matter of fact, a farmer together with his donkey died falling in a sinkhole that was forming under them while he was working on his land. A sinkhole can open at any time swallowing up everything on the surface, like an earthquake.

Together with the risk for the local people, there are two other problems: firstly, it is dangerous to cultivate the area near the Dead Sea; secondly, many economic activities such as industries have been seriously damaged and had to close for security reasons. For instance, in the village of Ghor Haditha, along the Jordanian side of the southern Dead Sea, more than 100 sinkholes appeared damaging agricultural lands, forcing the farmers to abandon these areas, as well as damaging economic industrial activities. In fact, in the same village a factory producing Dead Sea’s soaps and beauty products had to close for security reasons after that it has been seriously damaged by this phenomenon.


In this picture you can see the impact of sinkholes on the factory in Ghor Haditha

In this picture you can see the impact of sinkholes on agriculture in Ghor Haditha




Both photos were made by myself on the 12th of May 2009 in Jordan.

Category: Climate Reporting, | Tags:


Hussam Hussein on 08th October 2010:

Thanks Francesco!

Glad that you liked it! I find the issue of the shrinking of the Jordan River and of the Dead Sea of great importance.
There is a project called Red-Dead projet, you heard of it?

Jan Marcinek on 10th October 2010:

So ironic! I look forward to your posts about climate change.

Hussam Hussein on 10th October 2010:

Thanks Francesco and Jan for your interest in the effects of climate change on the Jordan Valley and on the Dead Sea. You may be interested also in the article I have just posted on the effects that climate change will have on the biodiversity of this area:
Looking forward to your feedbacks! smile
@Jan: cool to see you again on this platform! smile

Jan Marcinek on 10th October 2010:

@Hussam Nice to see you too ,)

I’m surprised how much trouble is around the Jordan.

Hussam Hussein on 11th October 2010:

@Jan: Indeed, Jordan is facing, as other countries in the region, many water problems, and global warming in simply amking the current difficult situation worst.
@Francesco: That’s basically the idea. However, some NGOs are concerned about the project mainly because the local unique ecosystem of the Dead Sea could be negatively affected and also because it wouldn’t solve the issue of the Jordan River, that according to some experts is supposed to shrink and disappear by the end of the next year.

Hussam Hussein on 12th October 2010:

I have just apload a new video on this post that may be on your interest! smile

Hussam Hussein on 13th October 2010:

Well, according to some experts of some NGOs, yes.. have a look to:

Hussam Hussein on 18th October 2010:

Glad that you liked it, Irene! I think it gaves a good general overview of the NGOs working in that area concerning the Dead Sea issue. smile

Hussam Hussein on 21st October 2010:

Thanks Yvonne for your interest. This phenomeno is happening both in the Eastern and in the Western side of the Sea. For more info on the Western side, see:

Hussam Hussein on 23rd October 2010:

Hi Mark!
Interesting question. Actually, I only interviewed some local farmers or employees of some factories of the Jordanian side, so my answer won’t be complete. However, especially the farmers, were very fatalist about it, saying that they have always been working there, and that therefore they were going to work there even if some people think it’s dangerous.

Hussam Hussein on 28th October 2010:

Thx, you’re welcome! smile

Hussam Hussein on 30th October 2010:

@ Henry,
indeed interesting discussion the one you mentioned. The Jordan River lost 98% of its original water resources, and being it the main affluent to the Dead Sea, indeed has played na important role in the shrinking of the Dead Sea. However, studies have highlighted how climate change is strongly affecting the income water resources of the Dead Sea, because of the less rainfalls in the area. Therefore, would conclude saying that both climate change and the shrinking of the Jordan River are effecting the Dead Sea.

Hussam Hussein on 12th November 2010:

Thanks Mrs Wagner for your support. I’m glad you liked the video. You may have noted that in this edition (compared to think3) I learned how to use pictures, and therefore now my posts are (supposed to be) more interesting and multimediatic with pictures and vedeos smile

Hussam Hussein on 15th November 2010:

Thanks Franz! Please let me know more about your activities in London! smile

Hussam Hussein on 02nd December 2010:

Thanks Giovy. Yeah, I tried to give a general overview of the sinkhole phenomena. Glad you appreciated it! smile

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