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Image of the Day : Lowest Place on Earth

by Santosh Singh

Dead Sea is a actually a lake sandwiched between Israel, West bank and Jordan. It is known worldwide for one of the most saline(33.7% salinity) and lowest land elevation(-423 MSL) on its shores. It is a popular tourist destination due to religious,  scientific, and recreational factors. The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. Biblically, it was a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world’s first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers.

The below image shows Southern part of Dead Sea. This image was acquired by SPOT 6 sensor from Astrium. Satellite images from SPOT 6 satellite sensor are provided at 1.5m resolution.

Satellite image of Dead Sea from SPOT 6 Sensor
SPOT 6 image of Dead Sea in the Middle East. SPOT 6 imagery is provided at 1.5 m spatial resolution. © Astrium Services

Download Higher Resolution image(40mb)

Due to its Hyper-saline nature this water body has no aquatic life except for some microorganism and bacteria. Hence the name. Geologically Dead Sea is actually is formed on a rift valley formed due to plate tectonics. This left lateral-moving transform fault lies along the tectonic plate boundary between the African Plate and the Arabian Plate.

Environmental Concerns

Over the years the surface area of the Dead Sea has shrunk upto 30% of its original area. This mainly due to diversion of Jordan river by Jordan for Hydroelectricity and water for its parched cities.

The dwindling water level of the Dead Sea
The dwindling water level of the Dead Sea. Animation courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The only water that flows in the lake is the sparse rain or sewage effluents. Shrinkage of dead sea has become a cause of concern for the involved parties viz Israel, Jordan and Palestine. The Lisan peninsula which used to be separate from West Bank has now fully connected to the land in west due to  shirnkage of Dead Sea. Previously there used to be Lynch Strait which separated the peninsula from the West Bank.

Tourists floating in the heavy saline mineral rich water of Dead Sea. Photo Courtesy: Philipp Kortin

At public forum meetings in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories in February, officials from the World Bank outlined several proposals to solve the problem. Under the most ambitious plan, engineers would use canals, tunnels, or pipelines to link the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, pumping ocean water 100 miles downhill from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. The water’s descent would power a hydroelectric desalinization plant, providing fresh water to the arid region.

Some Middle East environmentalists oppose the Red Sea link, though, arguing that an earthquake in the region could break a pipeline or canal and contaminate groundwater with saltwater. They worry about the unknown effects of pumping ocean water into the Dead Sea. (It could create an algal bloom, or cause a chemical reaction turning the surface of the sea white.)

If this project comes through there should be a demand for satellite imagery in order create digital terrain models or creation of maps.

SATPALDA provides satellite imagery from variety of sources. Be it High Resolution or Medium Resolution. Imagery derived products such as Digital Terrain Models, Land Cover Maps, Change Detection Reports have been popular products offered by SATPALDA.

SATPALDA is a privately owned company and a leading provider of satellite imagery and GeoSpatial services to the user community. Established in 2002, SATPALDA has successfully completed wide range of photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Projects.

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